Trapped in an abusive relationship, severely depressed, and binge eating to numb the pain, Lydia Dzuibanek felt worthless. She resolved to take her own life, but didn’t want her three young boys to think they were the cause of her despair. So, she devised a plan to make her death look like an accident by driving off a cliff. While en route to her final destination, she took a mysterious and unexplainable detour and ended up at an Anytime Fitness asking for help.
Working with an Anytime Fitness personal trainer, she lost over 100 pounds, going from a size 22 to a size 6. Instead of feeling humiliated and powerless, she is now strong and fearless. She left the relationship that was the source of so much pain, quit smoking and is off anti-depressants for the first time in years.
Lets hear Lydia’s incredible journey from the start.
Women Fitness: What was the exact time when you realized that you needed to lose weight?
Lydia Dzuibanek: The exact time I realized I needed to lose weight was the moment I decided not to commit suicide. I had been suffering from extreme depression and anxiety for a long time. I felt trapped in a marriage that was emotionally abusive. I had become so overwhelmed with shame for staying that I had told no one of what I was going through in my relationship. I had been holding up a mask, pretending to my family and friends I was fine. Only my three boys knew the truth and I felt so guilty for not being strong enough to leave for them. I was at my heaviest weight, 250 pounds. It got to a point that I couldn’t bear the depression and anxiety anymore. I left my house with the intention of committing suicide by driving off a cliff. Somehow on the drive, I made my way to the local Anytime Fitness, instead. I remember thinking as I stood in the gym that I had to ask for help, I had to make some huge changes and I had to do it right away.
Women Fitness: How has your weight loss journey been? What were the milestones that you had to overcome?
Lydia Dzuibanek: My weight loss journey has been a battle! I have had to learn how to fight my food addictions, my impulse for comfort food when I am upset, sad, angry, scared or depressed. I have had to fight to learn that exercise is the best tool for me to combat my anxiety and depression. Therefore, I have trained myself to hit the gym regularly to maintain my mental health, but to also resort to physical activity when waves of depression are stronger or life is more challenging than on a normal day. I have had to train myself to meal prep religiously so I am prepared every day with healthy food choices. My journey has not been easy. I have just gotten stronger. Two years after I started my fitness journey, I was down 94 pounds and a size 4 (156 pounds). I felt amazing. Then in April 2016, I started taking a birth control shot which I had a horrible reaction to and for the next three months, I gained weight rapidly. Over those three months I gained 35 pounds back. I was still going to gym 5-6 days a week, but my food choices were off because I was struggling so much with the weight gain. By Christmas 2016, I was back up to 190. I remembered how far I had come and fought to get my head back in the game. Since December, I have lost 20 pounds and am determined to continue to fight. I am currently 170 pounds and a size 6.
Milestones I have overcome outside the gym include leaving my husband and getting divorced, living on my own with my three boys, earning my Master’s degree, finishing four Spartan Races, publicly speaking about my journey in front of 3,000 people and writing a physical education curriculum for grades 1 – 5.
Women Fitness: What was your fitness regime like during this period?
Lydia Dzuibanek: My fitness regime during this time has had many variations, but one staple is Anytime Fitness and my trainer Mike Rike. Since the night I first walked into the gym instead of taking my own life, we have trained together. We train either 2-3 times a week, depending on my available funds. Besides training with Mike every week, I go to Anytime Fitness and do weights and cardio workouts four additional days a week. I also attend Spin class at Anytime Fitness at 5 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday and afternoon classes on Monday and Wednesday every week. Additionally, I love to throw in some variety with hiking or by taking HIIT style classes. All in all, I work out five days a week, either every day or twice a day. I schedule in rest days when my body calls for them.