BEFORE she had turned 30, a Cork chef reassessed where she was in life. In a matter of months, she managed to turn her life around, losing more than six stone and inspiring thousands of people with her weight loss journey — achieved naturally through a rigorous exercise regime, healthy diet and lifestyle changes.
Like many women who find the numbers on the scales creeping up mercilessly over time, Trisha Lewis, a chef in Jacobs on the Mall, originally from Kilbehenny in Co Limerick, found she was just eating more, moving less and feeling less love for herself with each passing day and every time the scales climbed higher.
She had tried fad diets and quick fixes and said that over the years she had lost 35 stone, but because she hadn’t lost it the right way, she kept putting it back on again, with more besides.
So what brought her to the point of wanting to change her life?
Trisha said: “Last year, turning 30 was a big moment for me, but I was miserable. I was 26 stone and 5ft 5in. I used to avoid going to the doctor, so I wouldn’t have to hear someone tell me I was ‘morbidly obese’. I knew that my life expectancy was reduced because of my weight.
“When I went to sleep, I was constantly afraid that I wouldn’t wake up. I was so big that it felt like there was a weight pressing down on my throat and I was always short of breath and tired.
“My stomach was down as far as my knees and everything hurt. When I went to my first gym session, I couldn’t even reach my arms over my head and that broke my heart.”
Being one of nine girls, Trisha said that her family and particularly her supportive mother had tried everything to get her to turn her life around.
“My family were waiting for me to hit rock bottom,” she laughed, adding that it is great to chat to her mam at the end of the day, as they talk about lunges, squats, burpees and other exercises, which never would have entered the conversation before.
“My Mam is my number one fan, she loves watching the videos and she is so motivating and encouraging.”
Speaking about previous weight loss efforts, Trisha said that she had looked online and in groups and forums, as well as trawling through social media to find someone of a similar weight who had lost weight naturally, without surgery — but to no avail.
This is what brought her to her own online journey and she started to track her weight loss on Instagram (@trishas.transformation).
As proof of the power of her inspirational journey, she has amassed more than 13,500 followers with less than 80 posts — no mean feat when it comes to today’s over-saturated social media world.
She said that the Instagram profile was a way to be honest with people, but also a way to keep herself accountable and make her stick to her goal.
“Before, I would do silly stuff and lose five stone, but then put back on eight. When I set up the account I was absolutely terrified that I would give up again after losing two stone.”
When she first went to Dennehy’s gym in Cork, she started off at her own pace and worked up her stamina, strength and fitness from there. She knew that there was no point killing herself for the first few days, because she might never go back.
“It is amazing what your body can do when you work with it,” she said.
“I had to start by admitting that the weight gain was my own fault, I ate the food and I was lazy. Rather than trying to toil away on the machines, I went straight to a personal trainer for my first session. I do four half-hour sessions a week and I still find those sessions difficult.”
Trisha said that at first she was consumed by worry that everyone would be starting at her in the gym, but once she got in there, she realised that nobody actually cares and that they are there for themselves and so was she.
“It has been quite an emotional journey. I would look at pictures of myself from before and I know now that I looked miserable. I used to think strangers stared at me because of my weight, but now I think it was because I looked so sad.”
Trisha said that even though she is still 19 stone, for the first time in years, she now feels healthy: “When I get up in the morning, I just can’t wait to move — I was dormant for so long.”
As a chef, she has always known the premise of healthy eating, but never really stuck to it.
“I am eating so much more now than before, but it is all healthy, fresh and colourful. One thing I always say is that ingredients shouldn’t have ingredients.”
Putting yourself out there on social media is a very difficult thing to do, as you are vulnerable to trolls, nasty comments and judgements.
“I sometimes get sixty or seventy private messages a day from people who feel inspired or uplifted by my pictures, posts or videos and one thing I always say is that no matter how you feel before you get to the gym, you’ll never, ever regret a workout.”
Trisha’s posts are honest, unyielding, hilarious, inspiring and real and I think that is what draws people to her account.
“I want to remove the stigma around weight. People should be able to tell a loved one that they need to lose weight, not in a mean way, but nicely, so that they can help them when they are ready to hear it. It’s kind of like your salary, before I would have never said my weight to anyone or asked them theirs. People need to be more open about weight and what they are struggling with.”
Speaking about the journey so far, Trisha said: “I went from not being able to lift my own arms over my head to deadlifting, lunging, squatting, boxing and more. I feel amazing and I just want to help others feel the same.”