Tricia Bryan, 34, of Conyers, Georgia, has struggled with her weight her entire life, but when she was pregnant with her son, now 2, she gained around 100 pounds.
Because she was a high-risk pregnancy, Bryan said she was induced at 39 weeks and gave birth to her son via an emergency C-section.
Around one week after delivery, when Bryan was home with her son recovering, she developed a severe pain in her abdomen.
“This being my first pregnancy and first delivery, I assumed it was what all women experienced post-delivery,” Bryan told “Good Morning America.” “That this is just what it felt like.”
Instead, the pain Bryan felt in her stomach was an extremely large, and dangerous, pelvic cyst that had to be treated in the hospital. She also said she had high blood pressure that further complicated her recovery.
“I developed a very bad infection post-surgery [C-section] and that’s what caused the cyst,” she said. “Had I not listened to my body and spoken up when I did, it would have turned out really badly.”
Bryan said the experience crystallized for her the importance of her own health and of taking care of herself.
“There was a point where I had the thought that I have this brand new baby and I’m not going to be able to raise him,” she said. “It drove me to commit to a different kind of wellness this time around.”
Bryan rejoined WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, which she had found success with in the past. But this time she focused on her overall health and mental well-being, rather than just a number on the scale.
“I’m here and I have the chance to make myself better in every way every single day for not only myself but for my son and my family and that’s just what I strive to do on a daily basis,” she said of her new mindset. “I’ve practiced way more positive self-talk and positive reflections and journaling now than I have in my entire life.”
Instead of cutting out food groups or restricting her diet, Bryan said she has learned to eat more mindfully and to listen to her body’s cues.
“Before I would have forced myself to eat all five pieces of bread because I didn’t want to throw them away and waste my purchase,” she said. “Now I’m more mindful and I know to stop myself if I’m full, or if I need to, I don’t feel shame putting food in the trash.”
She also started to see herself as a role model for her son’s health.
“My son right now is almost 2, so he’s at that stage where if something is going in my mouth he wants it too,” Bryan said. “That’s definitely a driving factor in how I fuel my body as well, knowing that little eyes see everything.”
She no longer worked out as a punishment for what she ate. And Bryan began to add movement into her daily life.
“Now as an adult, I realize how important that movement is, even if it’s 20 or 30 minutes a day, for sustaining our body’s health and for our cardiovascular health,” she said. “I make a commitment to myself to carve out at the very least 30 minutes [a day] to jump on the bike and do a ride or grab my iPad and watch a new show as I walk on the treadmill.”
Since beginning her wellness journey, Bryan said she has lost 60 pounds.
“I notice it in the little ways,” she said of her weight loss. “I notice it in the way that I can cross my legs now with ease, and that I’m not huffing and puffing for breath when I go up the stairs or when I pick up my baby and dance with him.”
“I had previously been on blood pressure medications for 10 years and I no longer have to use them and I know that is due to my weight loss,” she added.
Bryan’s No. 1 tip for other people looking to change their relationship with food and health? “Mindset is everything,” she said.
“Start every day with an attitude of gratitude,” she said. “You may struggle. You may want to quit more than once before noon, but don’t. Remember that you are blessed to wake up today and everything else is secondary.”