Three years ago, Kristina Squires couldn’t walk to her car without gasping for breath.
“I’d be drooling and everything!” she said. “I was in rough shape.”
She was obese — tipping the scales at 266 pounds — was constantly drained and felt dejected.
On Sunday, the 43-year-old St. John’s woman will take part in her first Tely 10 road race — and she’ll be a lot lighter doing it.
Squires has shed 107 pounds since 2015 and is feeling better than she ever has.
“My entire life has changed,” she said. “I just feel so good, physically and mentally.”
There was no doubting her energy and upbeat attitude based on her bright smile and the cheerful tone in her voice.
Overweight most of her life, Squires said she had been fairly active and was involved in sports growing up, including softball and soccer. And working in the bakery at Bidgood’s Supermarket in the Goulds, she was always on her feet.
“I’d just do things dragging all the weight with me,” she said. “I’d be in agony some days.”
At the age of 40, she packed on even more pounds after she was unexpectedly diagnosed with epilepsy. The first medication she was prescribed left her lethargic with a huge increase in appetite.
“I just kept eating and eating and the weight just kept piling on and piling on,” she said.
However, after a few changes in medication, she finally felt alive again.
“Oh my God, the change in me was instant. I had energy and my head was clear,” she said. “It’s like it happened overnight.”
Squires cut out the junk food, began eating healthy foods and got moving.
“Exercise has been the key for me in getting the weight off and keeping it off,” said Squires, who walks every day, but also hikes and plays sports.
“I eat more than I ever did. If I get a half an hour break at work, I could take up the whole table with my food, but it’s all good stuff. I always make sure I get my protein.”
She said she owes most of her lifestyle change to her co-worker and best friend, Justin Hayes, who has inspired her and pushed her to keep going.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. He came into my life at the perfect time,” Squires said. “We just got to talking about life, decided to make positive changes and we became soul friends.
“He motivates me, and together we go hiking all the time. We’ve done more East Coast trails than I can count.
“He encourages me so much and has stuck it out with me. … Only Justin and my mother know what I’ve been through in my life. I don’t know what I’d do without him. He’s been a godsend.”
Hayes said Squires help him just as much.
“She’s always so positive,” the 27-year-old said. “If you want some cheering up or to get yourself energized or pumped for something, then a surefire way was to spend some time with Kristina …
“Funnily enough, she doesn’t consider herself someone who others could look to for inspiration.”
But Squires has been an inspiration to many other people, who have followed her weight-loss journey on her Facebook page. She received several messages from others thanking her for helping spur their enthusiasm.
“That’s a nice feeling,” said Squires, better known to her friends as “Pants” because she typically wears shorts for most of the year.
“I know that for all the dark days I’ve had, there is always somebody worse, so I try to stay positive and tell people that they can do it, too. Never give up.”
Squires is thrilled about all the things she’s now able to do — from shopping at regular-size clothing stores to zip-lining, since most zip-line companies have a 250-pound weight restriction.
But she’s over the moon with excitement about participating in her first Tely 10.
“Oh my God, I can’t wait,” said Squires, who will have Hayes by her side. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve watched people over the years and saw so many (Facebook) postings about it. I always wished I could do it.
“To think, not that long ago I would be out of breath just watching people run. Now, here I am doing it myself. I know when I cross that finish line, it’s going to be an amazing feeling.”