Thrive Grand Champ Lives on the Bright Side


Julius Warren won $25,000 thanks to his hard work on the path to becoming healthier and happier.

“Everyone goes through trials and tribulations. I have no regrets. That’s the past, and you’ve just got to move on,” says Sam’s Club associate Julius Warren, who has overcome a lot to build a joyful life.

As one of seven kids, Julius enjoyed a happy childhood. But when he was in his late teens, his mom started struggling with mental health problems and alcoholism, and his anxiety grew.

Julius started taking opiates to numb those feelings. Eventually, his whole paycheck went toward pills. “It was a nightmare,” he shares.

Driving home from work one day, he passed out at a stop light. Luckily, he woke up before the car rolled into traffic. “I could’ve gotten myself killed,” he recalls.

“That was a turning point for me.”

A new direction

Julius realized it wasn’t helping him to keep blaming his mom for the things going wrong in his life. “I had to take responsibility for my own actions. So I took all the pills and flushed them down the toilet.” He is grateful his girlfriend, Ashley, supported him through that very difficult time.

That was 12 years ago. He’s been sober ever since. (His mom is sober and doing well, too.)

These days, Julius and Ashley have a 6-year-old son (pictured below). When Julius started struggling with his weight and with the challenges of parenting during COVID, he knew he needed help. “My diet was terrible. I wasn’t exercising, I was overweight, and I wasn’t active with my son,” he shares. Family means everything to Julius, and he didn’t want to let Ashley or their son down.

Help came when Julius wrote a Facebook post about his past addiction and everything he overcame. After reading the post, his Team Lead Patty Kennedy encouraged him to start the Thrive Challenge.

The Thrive Challenge is a free Walmart-sponsored program offered to all of us (plus our friends, family members, and customers). It’s all about making small, better choices in your everyday life using the Thrive app. Thrive can help you with a variety of life’s most common struggles — from losing weight to saving money and even improving your relationships.

“Thanks to the Thrive Challenge, I’m a stronger person.” – Julius Warren

Taking steps and supporting others

Thrive teaches the value of making small changes — microsteps — toward big improvements. Julius’ first microstep was drinking more water. Then he cut out processed food and started making healthy meals, like ground turkey and vegetables or salmon filets.

Julius works out every morning at the YMCA. “I’ve learned a lot about exercise and fitness,” Julius says. He’s even training his co-worker, William, who has lost 85 pounds.

Being a good father remains a top priority. “Because of J.J.’s autism, he needs extra support, which I’m giving him now,” Julius says. “We’re doing lots of activities together. We take him to the zoo — he loves the tigers and elephants!”

Julius and Ashley are also busy planning their beach wedding in 2024. (He proposed to her on his birthday while surrounded by their extended family. It was the best birthday gift ever because she said yes, he says.)

Looking on the brighter side

His hard and many lifestyle changes paid off in a big way: Julius was named a Thrive Grand Champion and awarded a whopping $25,000! 

“The struggles I went through in my past led me to where I am now,” Julius shares. “I always look on the brighter side. And if your mindset is right, everything else will fall into place.”

“To me, Thrive is about making better choices, changing your life for the better, and being able to inspire others,” he says.

If you or someone you know has a problem with addiction or opiates, we have resources that can help.