Thrive Champ: Health Scare to Happiness

Thrive; Celebrating You

How microsteps helped Chris Armendariz find a path toward healing.

What’s on your bucket list? Maybe it’s to go skydiving? Or to visit Scotland? Chris Armendariz, an associate at Walmart Store 5337 in Clovis, California, always said he wanted to travel someday. He and Tim, his partner of 25 years, talked about it all the time.

Then in 2018, “someday” was almost taken from them. Tim was on a hike one day when he felt chest pains but was in an area with no cell phone signal. It was a scary moment.

And it turned out to be serious: Tim needed triple bypass heart surgery.

“What a wake-up call!” Chris recalls. “It made us realize life can change in a second.”

Neither Chris nor Tim had thought much about their health — they were drinking sodas and living on fast food. With Tim’s heart event and Chris’ family history of diabetes, both agreed it was time for a change.

So, Chris downloaded the Thrive app and began his inspiring journey. (And he has been sharing it with the Thrive Community ever since!)

Building healthy habits

Making big changes starts with a small step. Thrive refers to these as “microsteps.” Chris’ first microstep was drinking water instead of soda. “Switching a sugary drink for water became a checkmark each time I did it,” Chris says.

Microsteps are a great way to help you develop good habits. After checking off a microstep for 21 days, it becomes a new, healthy habit.

Chris tried other microsteps, like walking more. Instead of sitting in the break room, he walked around the parking lot for 15 minutes. Now, he goes to the gym and invites other associates to go with him.

“Thrive is accountability; it’s progress,” he explains. “I was doing microsteps so often that it just became what we do.”

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Enjoying “someday” today

Thrive helped the couple shift their priorities, taking small steps to make their dreams a reality. Instead of shopping or dining out, they save for one incredible trip each year. They’ve been to Scotland, Mexico and the Philippines.

In fact, Chris was in Scotland when he found out he was a 2019 Thrive Challenge winner! Naturally, he used the $5,000 prize for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Iceland.

Supporting the LGBTQIA+ community

Chris has been with Walmart for 31 years — and loves that the company provides growth opportunities for associates. “I have a voice, and if I have an idea to improve something, I know I can share it.”

In 2015, Chris used his voice to get Walmart involved with the Rainbow Pride Parade in Fresno, California. Managers, associates, parents, grandparents, and siblings all showed up to support the parade “It was a lot of work, but it meant a lot to me,” he says. And he made a lasting impact: Walmart became a Rainbow Pride Parade sponsor — and still is.

“It was groundbreaking for us,” Chris shares. “We want everyone to know they can come to work as their true, authentic selves.”

Healing from grief

Chris and Tim have endured losses. Chris lost both parents and his sister. Tim lost his mom to Alzheimer’s.

Strong family bonds are helping them heal. Their eight grandchildren love spending time with “Grampy and Papa Chris.” Future graduations and weddings motivate them to stay healthy.

Meditating on happy memories

Chris’ backyard provides its own healing powers and health benefits as well. He exercised his green thumb to create a gorgeous garden, where he meditates, focusing on happy memories of his mom, dad and sister.

The Thrive Challenge changed Chris and Tim’s life — just in time for Chris’ 50th in 2023. “It’s hard to imagine life without the changes I’ve made,” Chris says. “My confidence has improved dramatically.”

“I’m healing from grief, I’m here for our family and I believe in myself.”