As we turn the corner on 2015 and say hello to the new year, for us it’s time to put down the fudge, step away from the bag of caramel corn and put the cork in the champagne. We know it’s never easy to do it alone. Thankfully, we are surrounded by 50,000 ChiliHeads who support one another like family—we’ve got one another’s backs. In the restaurant world, there are always indulgent choices to pick from our menus. But there are tons of fresh, healthy options too. Which is why we wanted to share Nikki’s story—a brand new ChiliHead who found herself seeking out her best life. The personal journeys of wellbeing are such an inspiration to us all. Her journey reminds us why we love what we do.

“Back in May of this year I made a decision to change my career and my life all at once. A job behind a desk and no people involvement had finally gotten the best of me. I found myself about to be jobless, extremely overweight and just unhappy with where I was in life–all while anticipating my 39th birthday. I wasn’t ready. All I could think about was the idea that 40 was around the corner and I am not where I thought I would be before that milestone. I said to myself, “Self… What do you want to do? When and where were you at your happiest?”  I heard myself answer, “When you were in restaurant business you were happy, healthy and financially secure!”

That moment had me ready for a new job search. That’s when I stumbled upon my new home at Chili’s. I kept telling myself if I start this new journey with Chili’s, I want to start my own journey back to a healthy me. I knew once I committed to Chili’s I would be committing to an active lifestyle. No more sitting and eating all day. Constantly walking and talking would now be my way of life, and an everyday workout session. Long story short, I got the job as assistant manager and I got my health back.

The first week on the job was the toughest. Food everywhere. I had to figure out what would be my go-to meals while working all day. For 5 weeks, plain ancho salmon and broccoli would be my meal of choice along with at least a gallon of water a day to wash it all down. About 2 weeks into the new job I knew it was working. I woke up energized and ready to go every day. I went out and bought a scale and downloaded a step counter app to measure my progress. Weighing myself everyday was the best motivation I could ever find. It made me pep talk myself into challenges. I challenged myself to take 100 more steps a day than I did the day before, and I challenged myself to commit to smaller portions. Those two challenges were a breeze. Then I decided to get rid of the things l over indulged the most, BEER and BREAD. When I finally saw those pounds coming off, my happy became “ecstatic”! Before I knew it, I was 30 pounds lighter in a matter of months. Now I want even more. I decided on a gym membership and now take neighborhood walks every free moment I get. I’m proud to say at this 6 month mark with Chili’s I am 43 pounds lighter and heading into a new year with a new me!”

Nikki Thompson

Manager – Chilis @Austell, GA #636

Congratulations Nikki. Your wellbeing journey is an inspiration to us all.