Ashley has always been an active woman but one who struggled with her weight. In 2019, she was unexpectedly sidelined from training when multiple tumors were found in her body. What the tumors didn't know is that Ashley is a fighter.
Read on to see how Ashley fought her way back to health and found self-love at the end of her TrifectaME journey.
I've Always Been Heavy
I've always been a heavy person. When I was a cheerleader in middle school, they tried to make me a flyer. That was the one and only time they tried to lift me. I say this because it shows that I’ve always struggled with my weight. More recently, it’s been a battle for my health in general.
About six years ago, I lost a bunch of weight. But like many others, I wasn’t able to keep the weight off. I wanted to make this time different
Halting My Training
Prior to 2019, I made the decision to train for a half marathon. Even though I'm as slow as molasses and turtle in mud, I was committed to doing this half marathon. I was doing a lot of walking and running which helped me get active.
Then, my life dramatically changed in February 2019. I was diagnosed with benign liver tumors. When I first heard the news I thought, 'Oh my gosh, I might have to have a liver transplant.'
My medical team realized that they were a side effect of the medication I was taking due to other health issues I was having. We decided that I would stop taking the medication to see if the tumors would shrink on their own.
Luckily, I was blessed and did not need to have a liver transplant - the tumors have been shrinking since I stopped the medication.
But this was only the beginning of the slew of medical complications and setbacks that I would experience.
18 Months of Uncertainty
The next major diagnosis was a tumor on my pituitary gland. For those that don’t know where it’s located, the pituitary glands are located between your eyes and your ears, at the base of your brain, in the middle of your head.
Due to the tumor’s location, it presses on your optic nerve. A common effect of a tumor on the pituitary gland is blindness. This is actually how most men discover they have a tumor there.
Treatment for this is either medication or surgery.
Upon discovering my tumor, I was scheduled to meet with a neurosurgeon in the next 24 hours. This was terrifying.
I thought ‘This isn’t good. Neurosurgeons don’t make appointments within 24 hours. It just doesn’t work like that.’
The next day, I took an hour's drive to see the neurosurgeon near Boston. The entire drive there all I could think about was that I’m going to need brain surgery. The closer I got, the more convinced I became that they were going to keep me there. I was anxious, nervous, and scared.
The doctor wanted to wait and see what happens. With this being a tumor in my head, I decided to get a second opinion. In the end, we opted to try medication again. I was lucky - the medication worked.
I wasn’t at the end of the road yet.
When Rubber Meets the Road
For the 18 months, I was battling to get myself to a baseline state of health. My pituitary gland caused all my other glands to shut down. None of my hormones properly worked. I’d previously told my endocrinologist how I was worried about my weight but we couldn’t focus on it. We needed to get healthy.
Then, I heard the news - I was on the right medications and my hormones balanced out. I got the all-clear to change course. He said ‘I think you can start to lose weight. I think you can work at it.’ I was so excited.
At this point, I weighed 229lbs.
Considering my mountain of health issues, he recommended intermittent fasting as he said there were great hormonal benefits. I got started right away.
My doctor suggested a 16/8 schedule. I fasted for 16 hours and had an 8-hour window to eat. I made my 8-hour period 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm. This was only an hour and a half later than when I’d typically have my first meal. We normally ate dinner around 8:30-9:00 pm which meant I needed to get home from work earlier.
At first, it was challenging! I would get hungry in the morning and I realized I had a habit of snacking later in the evening. To battle my hunger in the morning, I’d drink some water. I also became more in tune with when I was eating food.
I’d look at the clock and see that it was 8:15 pm which meant - no more eating. Practicing intermittent fasting helped me create strong boundaries with food.
I was off to a great start on my own but deep down, I knew I wanted more. I had weight loss and exercise goals that were stopped due to health complications and I wanted to meet my goals now more than ever.
Inspired by Brian Shaw
I started with intermittent fasting and saw some success. For my meals, I knew that I should be eating healthy, low-calorie, high protein macronutrient balanced meals.
One day, I was watching a strongman competition with my husband. He’s really into the sport. While we were watching, we saw Brian Shaw competing and watched some of his YouTube videos. We saw one of his videos where he was meal prepping with his wife. My husband turned me and said, ‘You should try Trifecta.’
Thinking about it, I said, ‘why not?’ My previous career was super time-intensive. I was leaving the house at 7 am getting home about 8 pm not much time for anything, including cooking. My husband has different nutritional needs than me so I needed to make separate food for myself. So with all of that in mind, I ordered some meals.
I decided to start with the Clean Meal Plan. It felt like the best plan for me and a good starting place.
I was really excited when my meals arrived and I could finally try them. They were great!
They helped me get more time in my day and I didn’t have to worry about cooking for one anymore. I could either in the microwave or on the stove. And since I love cooking, the meals helped me get creative in the kitchen.
About halfway through the challenge, I decided to try the Paleo meals. I wanted to check them out because they sounded good.
Sometimes I would pull out different parts of a meal to make something new that was equally delicious and healthy. It also meant that I didn’t have to worry about wasting food anymore. I was no longer buying a whole package of chicken sausage that I didn’t use before it expired.
With Trifecta, I was able to do things like taking the chicken sausage out of the meal to use in something else then use the vegetables from the original meal it works, and then use the vegetables for something else. So that's two meals for the price of one - and more time!
Creating Healthy Boundaries
Back when my doctor told me I could start focusing on weight loss, I weighed 229lbs. Through my own effort, I was able to lose about 10lbs before the start of the challenge. I was 5’4” and weighed 219lbs.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it created fewer boundaries for me between home and work. Previously, I was leaving the house are 7:00 am and not getting home until after 8:00 pm. Then, I was constantly sitting at home - not going anywhere. I was getting less than 3,000 steps a day. I was also working longer hours with increased distractions. My life felt like it had less balanced than before and I wasn’t happy.
I started eating Trifecta when I was in the middle of working from home. It was nice because I could use the skillet to heat up the meals. I knew I could get in a 10 minute, healthy lunch, and then walk my dog to get in a little exercise.
When we decided to work out again, there was no exercise equipment to be found. Luckily, we had what we needed. We were also able to piecemeal equipment and create our own workout space at home. Now, I was able to work out at home.
This helped spark the beginning of new habits. So, I signed up for the TrifectaME 90 Day Transformation Challenge. I knew this was my chance to commit to myself and really make lasting changes.
A Chance to Make Lasting Change
I’d lost a bunch of weight before but gained it all back - and then some. I wanted to make this time different and the challenge really helped me do more than just lose weight.
I tend to be an overeater - which I get from my dad’s side of the family. Plus, being at home more and not seeing people due to the pandemic also made it feel completely okay to eat an entire pack of Double Stuffed Oreos. No one was going to see me for however long so - why not, right?
Prior to the challenge, I was using a different app but I wasn’t tracking consistently. I immediately downloaded the Trifecta app and got started. The Trifecta App helped me learn to track what I was eating consistently. I started tracking my food, nutrients, water, and calorie intake. It became important to me to track everything.
Then, I started tracking my weight. Previously, I’d never taken a progress picture in my life. I just wasn’t that kind of person but I started doing them with the help of the challenge.
Finding Motivation In New Places
Before I got sick, I had a decent workout schedule. Since I was training for the half marathon at the time, I would leave the office around 4:00-5:00 pm, go to the gym, then head home for dinner. With being sick, then being home, I struggled a bit to find the desire to work out. The challenge gave me the motivation to exercise.
I already started making time to work out at little but now, I was ready to do more. Being at home meant that I could throw on my clothes, go work out and then come back and sit back at my computer for a while. Then, I’d log my workout to make sure I got my points!
I really felt like I had my nutrition dialed in. I knew I had my Trifecta, the app helped me with my macros, and I was doing all the right things there. The points attached to workouts helped me make sure that I exercised frequently. I would think “Oh, I need to get my points!”
I’m a person who likes routine so I took the points, wrote them on a post-it note, and taped it to my computer so I was always reminded of what I needed to do each day. I would weigh myself and take progress photos in the morning. I would log everything before bed so I would know I earned all of my points for the day. I didn’t want to lose any credit!
The challenge also helped me connect with great people who kept me inspired to keep going.
Seeing other people in the Facebook group was a benefit I didn’t expect.
While there weren’t any point benefits attached to it, the group helped me want to keep going on days that were more difficult than others.
Seeing what other people were doing made me want to step up to a challenge. I also enjoyed seeing other people’s recipes and trying them at home!
Through my weight loss and health journey, my husband has been incredibly supportive. He came to all my doctor's appointments, and he had a rough time watching me struggle. He is a supporter of mine and has always been my biggest cheerleader.
At our wedding, one of my friends called him my protector in her speech. In this case, it was very hard for him to be a protector because it was my own body. And there was not much he could do. It probably made us stronger.
While he didn’t join the challenge, he was also supportive of me completing it. He’d ask if I was working out that night and would workout with me. Before the shutdowns, we would go to the grocery store together and do our shopping. He would help unpack my Trifecta deliveries and even organize them for me.
A New Me
Over the course of the challenge, I lost another 26lbs. In total, I lost 35lbs. When I talk to my friends and family about my weight loss, I like to use a butter analogy. I say how a pound of butter is basically a pound of fat. So I picture it as having lost 26lbs pounds of butter and stacking them up. That's a whole lot of mass!
Since the end of the challenge, I’ve been able to lose another 10lbs.
In the end, the challenge helped me become a better version of myself. I realized that I wasn’t focused on one thing. It helped give me a holistic approach to changing my life. From sleeping at least six hours a night to prioritizing time to exercise - it gave me the freedom to take care of my entire self.
I’d been interviewing for new job opportunities and none of them panned out. The 90 Day Challenge process helped me learn more self-love and embrace my best self which came through as I interviewed for my current role. It’s been a big learning and growth process but definitely a journey I’m so grateful for.
Starting your journey to improved health doesn't have to be hard.
We know that it can feel scary to make a change to your diet. Just thinking about it can feel overwhelming. To help you take control and make small steps towards your weight loss goal, we offer the Trifecta App for free.
Knowledge is power. Download the App today and start tracking your calories each day to learn how you can make small steps in improving your diet. Get the app for free and start your transformation today.