How I lost six stone to complete my first triathalon: 'I was always bullied because of my weight sometimes by my own family'
Trish Rovira tells Joanna Kiernan why taking part in Bressie's 'A Lust for Life Ironmind' triathlon is just part of her ongoing healing process after being taunted for being overweight as a child
A little over seven years ago, Trish Rovira (34), who stands just 5ft 1in, weighed over 15 stone. These days, Trish - who is from Barcelona but lives in Oranmore, Co Galway - is fit, healthy and about to take part in her first triathlon.
"Although I was always smiling, I was always crying in the inside," Trish says. "Until I decided to make a change that is. It has taken me two attempts, but all of those baby steps eventually took me to where I am now, a healthy, fit, nine stone girl with her mind in the right place."
As a child, Trish remembers being constantly teased about her weight.
"I was always bullied because of my weight, and the bullying not only came from other children, but from my own family as well, which I think made it much worse," Trish says.
"I had to grow up with all of that going on," she adds. "And when you grow up with that happening, with everyone telling you that 'you won't be anybody in this life because of your size', or that 'nobody will love you' - that goes into your head and you get very low because you think you are a good person, but everybody is just constantly telling you, 'you are very fat.'
"One day, I just said to myself, 'this is enough for me; who are they to criticise me and to bully me?' And that is when I started getting fit and losing weight. So time has proved them wrong, that I am able to do whatever I want, whatever I put my mind to."
Trish's health and weight loss journey began in 2007. Initially, she joined Weight Watchers.
"I had to join a group because I needed support, I felt I could not do it by myself back then," Trish explains. "So I started with Weight Watchers and then I swapped to Slimming World. I have gone my own way to a point because I don't really agree with all of what they say about nutrition, but I needed that support and I have found the support and teamwork involved more important for me than anything. I needed that to keep focused."
Trish began her fitness journey with walking. "I started with very basic exercising because I was so heavy - I couldn't do much," she admits. "As a child, I was active and I did plenty of swimming, but I had stopped it all over the years and found that I had to start again with very easy things like walking.
"My journey has been full of ups and downs, but now, finally, I've lost the weight and above all, I have become fitter and healthy," Trish says. "This is a journey and like life itself, it requires constant movement and effort, but one thing is for sure - after losing the weight, and getting fitter and healthier, my self-esteem has improved by 200pc and I'm doing things now that I never thought I'd be able to before."
Trish's most pressing challenge is Bressie's Ironmind beginners' triathlon, which she has signed up for this Saturday in Mullingar.
"If you had told me a few weeks ago, never mind months or years ago, that I would even think about doing this, I would have died laughing," she says. "I really need challenges like this one to overcome fears, doubts, to break routines and to push my limits because, as the tattoo on my arm says, 'I don't know where the limit is, but I know where it is not!' Challenges like this keep me going.
"I have to show myself that I am able to do these things. I am not afraid of the triathlon, I am more afraid of the transitions between disciplines if anything - from the swimming to the cycling and so on, but I know that I am able to do it, I just have to prove it to myself now," Trish adds. "I don't have to prove it to the world. It is just for me. I am not out to break any records, I am doing it for myself and I compete only against myself. It doesn't matter what your time is, as long as you finish and you are enjoying what you are doing."
Despite her dramatic weight loss, Trish sees exercising as more of a mental practice than a physical one.
"For me physical activity is mainly for the mind. I don't see it as a chore; it is 'me time' and it keeps me grounded," she says. "Exercise is for my head. So once I began walking, I began to feel better and eventually I started running, which I never thought I would be able to do, and now I also swim and cycle.
"There is nothing better for your mind than being outside in the fresh air," Trish adds. "I would not enjoy being in a class or a gym, that is not for me; I prefer to do my own thing."
So how is Trish preparing for the Lust for Life Ironmind triathlon, her biggest fitness challenge to date?
"I have to adapt to my capabilities," Trish says. "I know that I will finish it, but the important thing is not the pacing or timing, it is about being a finisher.
"When I look at old photos and see myself as I was back then, the important difference I care about the most is not the number on the scales, but all of the baggage I have left behind," Trish adds. "Because my journey was not only about training and losing weight, it has mostly been about healing myself."
* A Lust for Life Ironmind triathlon will take place on July 9 in Belvedere House and Gardens, Mullingar. For more information see alustforlife.com
Swim, cycle and run...
The Ironmind triathlon includes a 750m swim in Lough Ennell, an 18km cycle and a 4km run to the finish at Belvedere House and Gardens, Mullingar.
The Ironmind Triathlon is run by A Lust for Life, a social enterprise set up by Bressie, which is dedicated to the promotion of physical and mental well-being.
This triathlon was born following Bressie's successful two-part series, Ironmind, which aired on RTÉ last November and the success of the A Lust for Life 5km and 10km runs in the Phoenix Park, Dublin earlier this year.
Health & Living