A North Belfast woman has turned her life around after losing seven stone over the last three lockdowns.
Andrena Hamill, 49, was a size 28, drinking 14 litres of Pepsi each week and had pains and struggling with mobility.
The Ballysillan woman is now wearing size 12 clothes and has gone on to climb Slieve Binnian and Slieve Donard after joining a local gym helped boost her confidence.
Andrena first met personal trainer Stephen Phillips, from MyFit in Newtownabbey, around 14 months ago and says she wouldn’t look back.
“My mobility was so poor and had difficulties getting up off the sofa,” Andrena said.
“It was really painful so I thought I have to get moving. My husband once spoke about me being on mobility scooter and just last week he said that he reckons if I didn’t start this journey I would have been in a wheelchair by now.
“When I first came to the gym, Stephen really connected with me and helped me personally to set my issues and not to compare myself to anyone else out there. I had to build up my own journey and start from the very basics of walking and getting mobile.
“Stephen and I have had loads of fun training together. He has a wicked sense of humour and he knows how to push you and motivate you. When you think you’re not doing great, he knows how to push your buttons and get you going.
“I have achieved more than what I thought I could. I have climbed mountains. I have been up Slieve Binnian three times and Slieve Donard once. The first time I went up Binnian I cried because I couldn’t believe how difficult it was – but I did it.”
Andrena, who will turn 50 next month, sadly lost her dad last year, which she says set her into a “real deep depression”.
Stephen and the MyFit team have became Andrena’s friends, and helped her though the days when she struggled.
And proud of herself for how far she has came in her fitness journey, Andrena is not finished yet.
“My day to day life has been so much healthier and happier,” she said.
“I was really down before and suffered with depression. I lost my dad and that set me into a real deep depression. I had tried before that to lose weight and to go to the gym. I had a little bit of success but after the death of my dad I gained everything back plus another few stone more.
“I would absolutely recommend to anyone struggling with mental health or obesity, it is the best thing that ever happened me. I dread to think what would have happened me if I didn’t start this journey and made the first decision. It is the hardest bit but once I came to this gym I was made to feel comfortable and at ease. That helped me and encouraged me to keep coming.
“MyFit members are amazing. They really help you along and I have made some good friends here who I have contact with outside of the gym. The atmosphere pulls you in more.
“I have lost seven stone in the last year and a half through three lockdowns so it hasn’t been easy. The journey has been amazing. I am not finished yet – I have more to go. I don’t have to lose more but I want to. The gym is part of my life now.”
Speaking to Belfast Live, Stephen Phillips praised Andrena for her dedication and her drive to change her life.
“She is a real trooper,” he said.
“When Andrena first came to MyFit, she had very little belief in herself. The first day I met her she told me she wanted help to reduce her pains and to fit into normal clothes.
“She would hide behind a punching bag in the gym so people couldn’t see her. And to look at her now, I am just amazed at her. She is such an inspiration. She has now lost seven stone throughout three lockdowns and doesn’t plan to stop there.
“It is mind blowing what she has achieved in this short period of time and we are all so proud of her.
“Andrena’s journey is real and relatable. She is just a normal woman. She is a foster parent to a child with special needs and battled depression badly. Andrena inspires me and the great thing is, her journey is only getting started.”
For more information visit Stephen’s page here.
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