Transformation Story - Our very own Erica Parcio-Cooke

We’re very proud to share the transformation story of one of the owners of FIT HQ Erica Parcio-Cooke. Erica wanted to share her very own story with you all today and we couldn’t be more proud of her health transformation…

“It has been so wonderful to read so many great member transformations over the last few years, so I am excited to finally share with you all, my health transformation.

I thought I needed to start my journey with a little background information first. Like many of you, for as long as I can remember, I have had a struggle maintaining a healthy weight. I was always very active as a child and participated in every sport under the sun, so much so that I was very fortunate and proud to represent Australia for 5 years internationally in Taekwondo in my 20’s. But coming from a South American background where we always tend to party and use food to celebrate every occasion and just “eat, eat, eat”, my relationship and respectful understanding of food has been poor from a very young age. And yes I will admit “I Love Food too”.

When I stopped competing at 25 I was still active however I began to lose discipline as I was enjoying my social life to much.  Add the responsibilities of marriage, work and last but most importantly having my 3 beautiful children and I found myself 40kg overweight and depressed. I used every excuse under the sun to not exercise and to eat junk food. Up until this time I had also tried every diet under the sun, yes you name it and I have probably been on it, but of course like all diets they only work whilst you are on them and are not long term fixes. I had also undergone a 12 week exercise program at my own gym and I lost 12kg and I felt awesome. But then life got busy, I made more excuses for myself as to why I couldn’t train, I slipped back into my bad eating habits and I put all the weight back on again and more.

You would think that being a health professional myself, a former athlete and the owner of a Health Club I would have all the answers, motivation and discipline to be healthy however this was not the case for me and I knew it was always going to be a long term struggle.

In 2014 I was in such a very bad physical, mental and emotional state that I went and saw my Doctor and we discussed the health issues that I was having. From then I started seeing an amazing psychologist Natacha who helped me get my mind positive and under control. Once my mental health improved my Doctor also explained to me that because of my weight I was a candidate for Bariatric Surgery (weight loss surgery). I had heard about it through some of the physiotherapy patients I had treated but never would have thought that this was a procedure that was applicable to me. At this stage I had been so overweight for so long and I felt so trapped in my own body, that I followed my Doctors suggestion and went to a free bariatric seminar run by local bariatric surgeon Dr Ali Zarrouk.

My husband Andrew came along with me to be supportive and particularly being a health professional himself working with unhealthy patients, he was interested in learning about other options out there that may help his patients. We were both very impressed with the seminar so I made a follow up consultation with Dr Zarrouk and when he confirmed that I medically qualified for this surgery, Andrew and I made the decision that I would go ahead. What I had learnt was that the surgery alone was not going to fix my weight and health long term but it was to be used as a very important tool, a piece of the missing puzzle that when correctly combined with exercise, healthy eating and a positivemental state, it would help me to achieve long term health. After that initial consultation I promised myself that if I took up this opportunity I was not going to let myself or my family (Andrew and my children) down.  I am so proud to say that I have not looked back since.

I had the surgery on 13th Nov 2014.  My goal weight for the surgery established by my surgeon was 84kg however since achieving this weight I have lost a further 17kg and this has taken me 16 months in total to achieve this. To achieve these goals I have really changed my eating habits with the help of my amazing dietitians, Angela Askew who specialises in bariatric dietetics and our talented former REHAB HQ Dietician Cendrine, who guided me along the way. I still “love” food but I have learnt to understand the purpose of food in my life and not abuse food like I was doing before. I also started exercising 3 weeks after the surgery with the help of my wonderful husband Andrew, who is an exercise physiologist and who prepared specific post bariatric training programs for me to do at home, to fit in around my surgery, my work and children. I am enjoying all the benefits that exercise brings you like feeling positive, happier, stronger, fitter etc. but I am also really appreciating the things about exercise I never really noticed before, like when I go for my walk/run how beautiful the outdoors is, or how for 30 minutes I am not hearing “MUM” screamed out by my 3 children, or that it is ok to have a break from household chores because they can wait til you get back, or simply just learning to spend quality time on yourself because you ARE important. I am also returning to my psychologist next month for a check-up as I plan to keep training my mind so that it remains mentally strong long term.

I have never been so happy and proud of myself when I look in the mirror because of the way I look but most importantly because of the way I FEEL and THINK about myself.  I also have so much energy to play with my kids, to enjoy with my husband (lots more cuddles ha ha) but most importantly more energy to enjoy life and LIVE cause let’s face it, we only live once.

I wanted to share my journey with all of you now because my passion has always been to help people to be healthy, happy and truly love themselves, no matter what their journey has been. This is why I am so very excited to announce that FIT HQ will be hosting a bariatric support group once a month, to assist bariatric patients with their health journey, or for anyone wanting to learn about the surgery options available.  If you would like to talk to me about my journey, the training programs or the health services I used, or would like to knowmore about the support group, please feel free to message us on FB, call the club or send an email.

Thank you all for reading my story and lastly thank you to my supportive family who have been so positively by my side."