Progress: Tell us about your lifestyle before you decided to make a change.
Trina: I had moved to Sacramento and things didn’t go quite as planned which led me to a depression.
I pretty much lived on prescription medication, in bed, eating fast food and only going out for doctors’ appointments (and that by car, with my husband). It was hard and everything felt so much harder to do. After all this time and having lost all the weight, it entirely makes sense why it was so tiring to do anything, even just moving.
Looking back, I don’t even understand how this was possible, but at the time it was just so physically hard and I was in so much pain that I just couldn’t get out of bed. My husband would just buy fast-food for me and that’s pretty much what I lived on for a good 6 years.
I was happy with my family, my husband and my kids, and wasn’t aware that this was how depression could kick in, except for the physical pain.
For me depression comes out as pain.
As a background, I’ve also had mental illness since I was young and have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia back in 2000. I think I first went to therapy when I was around 7 years old. This had been a long time thing. And it isn’t easy. My parents are just now understanding how mental illness affects us in our family, as more people speak out.
What drove you to make a change? A particular event?
I ended up going to a doctor who prescribed me Opioids. I was on this treatment for 2-3 years, and although I used them exactly as prescribed by the doctor, I didn’t know that, by taking them, each time the effect would wear off I’d have to take another one as the body pain was really unbearable.
The change actually came when my husband brought home medical marijuana. At this point I was desperately trying to give up Opioids, so I said to myself: “Ok, let’s do this”. It helped immensely, especially with my thoughts.
It was the first time that I realised that only I can help myself, not the doctors, not God. And the only way to do this would be to make a change, even the smallest one, as not changing anything didn’t seem to work at all.
And for me day one was March 23rd, 2014. That day I chose to get out of bed. I went to the couch. It didn’t get further than that. I still stayed in pyjamas :). But I said to myself: it’s ok, this is good, I made a change!
And that’s how it started.
What were the first changes that you made?
Today I’m going to shower and get dressed! I’m still going to stay on the couch after, but I’ll know I’ve done something.
Over time, little things changed. And then a big thing happened.
I had stopped the Opioids treatment, and had switched to medical marijuana in order to deal with the side effects of the treatment interruption. This started in March and then in April, a doctor called me to come in to discuss my blood results. It took me about a month to go in to see him and the lab results were far from good.
I had to do something. But I didn’t know what.
When you’re depressed and you feel so awful, for one your brain doesn’t think of new ideas. You don’t know how you can get yourself out of a situation. But also, even if you do manage to figure it out, you self sabotage. The idea to eat healthier, well that means I have to get up and cook. Going for a walk, means meeting other people. All these things were daunting to even think about.
But fortunately for us, our car broke down three weeks later. We didn’t get to fixing it and we ended up walking everywhere for a good two years!
It started so simple… we needed groceries.
I remember on day one I couldn’t make it to the grocery store. I only made it 10 minutes on a walk. But even that was amazing for me. I was super proud.
And then, the next day, my husband and I said “how ‘bout we get breakfast there”. This started a whole summer where we would walk daily to Walmart, buy fresh fruit, and sit behind the Walmart in this park just having breakfast.
A 3 mile walk. At that time we had to take so many breaks. I was breathing so heavy just trying to get through. But each time we had watermelon, I would recover and… it was nice.
My husband was actually the help and motivation I needed to continue. The reality is that if my car wouldn’t have broken down and if my husband wouldn’t have been there for me, I don’t know where I would be today.
Then my husband ended up getting a new job, which meant he was away from home a lot, so I ended.. putting all of my energy in myself and into exercise.
I started with walking. My first pace for one mile was 24 minutes.
Around 6 months later I got into the 17s for pace, and I was the most excited I had every been about anything. And I have children :)).
Are you following a particular diet?
I still struggle with the diet part. I hate cooking and I really said an ideal house would be one filled with vending machines.
I’ve feel like I made many steps though: my main source of liquid was soda. I loved Mountain Dew more than anything.
When I once went to the doctor, weighed in and saw 271 lbs, I gave up soda right there and then.
I use the MyFitnessPal app to track my food. Today I’ve logged in 321 days in a row. I also bought a food scale to learn portion sizes.
At the end of the day, if I have my carbs at more than 50% I eat an ounce of almonds. I eat a lot of almonds actually. Daily for sure. But during the day my carbs run high I will choose to eat something high in protein.
It takes longer to come off but it’s more manageable to change the thing where I can. I used to eat a lot of cereal. Now I eat fruit for breakfast with a premier protein shake. I’m really big on fresh fruit because it’s so easy to eat. 🙂
What types of struggles have you dealt with during this time? What was the hardest thing? Are there times where you have had to show yourself compassion along the way?
I still have to struggle to get myself outside, even though I know for sure that it’s going to help me. When I first started walking, my tagline became: “at least I walked”. Even though I didn’t have a job, or I was feeling I’m letting everybody down… it helped immensely to feel that “at least I walked”. I’ve done something. That helped me get through the depression.
The first free weeks I’ve literally had to force myself everyday to get out of the house. And at one moment, I felt it’s actually working for me and I’m starting to enjoy it. That was something.
Also, I have a vision disorder, which means for example I can’t drive since 2010, because I can’t see very well. So this was another struggle, as walking, even in my neighbourhood, took a lot of effort. I used to trip so much at the beginning. Now, I even know where the bumps in the sidewalk are.
I don’t eat fast food very often, but still eat processed food sometimes. I’m still struggling with the home cooking part. My husband is a long distance truck driver, which means I’m home by myself most of the time and the motivation to cook for one doesn’t seem to be strong enough. A good help on this was reading When Food is Comfort.
It’s easy to to make a plan, it’s really hard to stick with it. What kept you motivated?
I feel like I’ve been on track for 4 and a half years, getting healthier, but it feels like each year I reinvent myself in a new way somehow. Like in 2017, somebody recommended a book called The Self Esteem Workbook and for me this was life changing.
It rewired my brain into understanding that not everything is about me and stop questioning myself all the time about what other people are thinking regarding me.
I’m 41 years old, I had got down from 271 to 215 two years ago and I realized, after reading the book, that it is OK to LOVE YOURSELF even at 215 lbs, or at 271. You don’t have to wait to lose weight to love yourself, but rather love yourself first and then you’ll feel the need to take care of your body and mind.
After this, I started focusing a lot more on building up my self-esteem… I even ended up doing a photo shoot, doing some silly poses. And silly is not me at all.
And that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do. After beating depression I felt like I got a second chance in life, so I’m trying to enjoy it more.
What was failing to me? Well, one example was breathing so loud that people around you are stopping and asking you if you’re feeling ok :). This was my biggest fear. And I have conquered that. People have asked: Are you okay? And I answered: Yeah, I’m just having a really good time!
It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone, but it’s surely worth it.
How has your life changed since you transformed? What are you most proud of?
I’ve gone from a size 24 to a size 12 and I’ve lost 101.4 total lbs since 12/12/12. But my goal wasn’t this. This was just a lovely side-effect. My goal was to make a daily change in my life to fight off depression.
An interesting thing is that 48 lbs of that is since 1/31/2018, since walking daily. Then I added Fitbit Coach on 3/5/2013. Then took my first measurements with Progress on 3/13/2018 and I’ve lost 6.2% body fat and 53 total inches.
In 2015 we started tracking. We took a trail that was supposedly marked as moderate. My kids call this “the trail that almost killed mom”.
We only did a mile (I think it was a 7 mile total), the first time. And then a year ago, my kids came to town and we went on that trail again. And guess what? We ended up finishing it. The difference? It was still hard, but then.. it was pretty hard for everyone, so I feel proud of this.
I’m also very proud of my times. Tracking my times with Runkeeper really motivates me. Knowing that I started at 24 minutes / mile and now I can walk only jogging across the street at a 14 minutes pace.
I’ve lost weight in the past by medication. But I didn’t learn anything from it.
This time, the weight-loss meant something.
My goal was to change something everyday and this would lead to progress.
And now for the first time, I’m building mass. I’m actually doing this.
Knowing that I went from depression, where just having a shower seems like an impossible thing, to motivating myself each day to exercise, even though my brain is saying “stay in bed all day and read” is what makes me proud.
Are you exercising too? What advice do you have for people who are thinking about starting exercising?
I have a Fitbit Charge 2 which I love. Each day I start these solo challenges and the next day I try do get a few more steps. For me, it’s motivating. They spoke to me, turning exercise into a game.
And then Fitbit Coach I use on my iPad and I do the exercises in the house. I’m really an introvert, so gyms aren’t my thing. FitBit Coach is pretty much a workout where each time you tell them how many reps you did and how hard it was for you and then the next workout is tailored for you. Some days, when my muscles are really stiff, I’ll do the yoga ones.
This year I’ve also started body weight strength training with FitBit Coach and that’s changed everything for my body composition. I’ve been doing that since March [ed: 2018]. My husband is getting me an Apple Watch, so I’ll let you know how the change goes :).
1h is only 4% of your day, a workout can be even only 30 min long. That’s 2% of my day. This mind-set has helped me a lot.
All in all, my thoughts for those just getting started: you will not believe the power of saying “at least I walked”, at the end of a crappy day! Start with a little change, it will improve your entire day. And don’t compete with anybody but yourself.
What would you want other people who are struggling with their wellness to know?
Get passed the mental block, and get passed the thought that you’re tired because of depression and make the first change.
I can remember in the dark ages, fighting depression, I was thinking that I’m of no use to anyone and I’m a burden to my family because I am always in bed. I couldn’t find a purpose in life… There were just so many thoughts I had. I’ve been there.
I was on “Depression Island” and I didn’t know how to get off. But then there were so many things that played into my new life, each thing brought me here :).
In the movie Cast Away, they say at one point: “I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
I say the same…
You don’t know what the tide will bring tomorrow to help you get out of the island!
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