ALWAYS remember you have the right to change your mind about who you are.
That’s the heartfelt advice from Trisha Lewis, who has recently marked the fifth anniversary of her ‘transformation journey,’ which started out as being about weight loss, but which has evolved into something so much more.
“I was a chain-smoking, unhealthy chef, who had no exercise regime… and now I’m a person who is doing the Camino this summer,” said the 35-year-old.
Trisha has shared her incredible weight loss journey with tens of thousands of people – or rather her Transformers – on social media, has written two books, and already this year has appeared as a guest on The Late Late Show.
Reflecting back to when it all started, she said proudly: “I feel now like the girl I wished I was going to be in five years’ time.”
She honestly admits that she thought she might be a ‘different stone’ at this time.
“Maybe I thought I’d be further along but what I’ve realised on this journey, in the five years, is that anything drastic doesn’t work.
“What I want is a sustainable way of living, so that means I won’t always be a ten, in the same way I won’t always be a zero, but I’d be looking for a good seven!”
In other words, she said, her life has now become so much more than steps, calories and scales.
“Yes, I want to get the scales down for my health. It is still my goal, but I’m doing it in a way that’s sustainable for me. I’m not doing it so the scales will tell me I’m good enough, I’m doing it so I can climb a mountain, so I can take part in Quest in Killarney, swim 1,000 metres. I want to be here for a long time, and to have the best possible chance at being strong and fit. So while weight loss is still my goal, it’s a by-product of the actions I’m doing,” she said.
Trisha has already shared her eating disorder diagnosis, and late last year she bravely disclosed her previous gambling addiction.
“Everyone has a past at the end of the day. I shared it when I was ready, and I was very proud that I came out of it. It felt right to share it in that moment. I’m in recovery and I don’t regret any of my past,” she said.
And Trisha knows there’ll be bumps in the road going forward – but she’s ready for them.
“After a while, the issue is never the issue, it’s the symptom, not the cause. What I found over the last five years, yes, weight loss is great, but I’m digging deeper, and realising it’s a lot to do with learned behaviours and if I learned it once, I can learn something else new. That’s the most beautiful thing.
“For me, it was about figuring out the causes, what makes me over-eat, the triggers, setting boundaries, and looking after myself a bit better.”
That means less people-pleasing, learning to enjoy her own company, better time management, and often times saying no to things first… just to say yes later.
Like many people who put themselves out there, she has been on the receiving end of less than kind comments on social media.
“Look, unfortunately you can never shut it off, but I no longer hold on to it. Before, I might have screen shot the message, now I just drop it like a hot ball. When people are my True Transformers, social media is probably the most beautiful place on earth! But yes, being called fat is still really hard to hear, I’ve been hearing it since I was four or five, but it’s my decision if I hold on to it or not.
“If someone thinks I’m not the right size, they’ve way more free time than I have. You go for it! I would never look at someone and think they’d be better off if they lost or gained a few pounds.
"That’s a learned behaviour, to put a value on someone based on their size. It’s not their fault, everyone should take a step back, we’ve all learned something we need to unlearn. Find me the perfect person and tell me I’m not perfect.”
A lot of this balanced approach, looking to herself rather than laying the blame on everyone, has come since she’s started attending therapy. It’s one of the best investments in her health she’s ever made.
“It’s just amazing to sit in a space with no judgement. If anyone is thinking about it, I’d 100% recommend it and would direct people to the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (iacp.ie), to find an accredited professional to work with.”
At the moment, she goes whenever she feels she ‘needs a top up’.
“It’s like a relationship. You have to build it, and at the start it’s so awkward, and I was like ‘I’m telling you nothing’ and my therapist was like, ‘if it’s all grand, why are you sitting in front of me?’ You have to let go, and know that you won’t be judged. All that’s happening is you’re stopping yourself learning something new about yourself. It’s scary and hard but it’s the best thing in the world.”
Going forward, Trisha is as busy as ever with her knife business, ‘Sharp by Trisha Lewis’. But as the former head chef in city centre restaurant Jacobs on the Mall, she admits she’s still obsessed with the place, and is only delighted to work there on the odd occasion.
She’s also very busy with her corporate work, cooking at festivals, TV cooking slots while also working full-time with VHI’s motivation team.
As well as all of that she’s hosting a summer party on Saturday May 27 in the Vienna Woods Hotel. Guest speaker will be Gerry Hussey and The Navigation Coach, Tara Rafter with a focus on investing time in yourself – with good food, music and dancing thrown in too!
“I’m doing the Camino in July, walking 25km every day for five days.
“I’ve also a third book in my head and am meeting publishers in next few weeks and will hopefully get that over the line for 2024.
“The future looks really exciting. I became the person I never dreamt I’d be, taking on challenges left right and centre and I’ve discovered that anything is possible if you get out of your own way.”
For ticket information for the May 27 Summer Party see www.trishastransformation.ie