Getting fit: a Wondr-ful idea!
It may have been a “horrible” driver’s license photo or that she was “just unhappy enough” with what she saw in the mirror. It may have been the work-life imbalance. But whatever the motivation, Kristn Trimble decided to participate in the 2022 Get Fit Texas! challenge. It was first time in her 20-year career as parole officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice that Trimble would carve out time in her busy days to take care of her health.
“I was a jock before I began my ‘grown-up’ life,” Trimble said. “Then life happened, and I quit taking care of my body.”
This year, however, “something clicked” and she started working out on her lunch hour. “The Challenge had live, virtual exercise sessions at noon,” she said. So, instead of a trip for fast food, Trimble would “lock the door to [my] office and say, ‘This is my time. This is me working out.’”
Trimble doubled her odds at getting healthier by simultaneously starting the Wondr weight management program, made available at no cost to her through her HealthSelect of Texas® plan. “The program makes you hyperaware of what you’re eating,” she said. “I couldn’t sit here eating Taco Bell while watching videos about how to take care of myself.”
Wondr has helped Trimble remember to reach for healthy snacks, like fruit instead chips or candy, and drink more water. She now eats more vegetables, conceding that “the shredded lettuce on top of a taco” doesn’t count. “Through Wondr, I’ve improved the quality of my meals.” Through Wondr, Trimble also learned to eat slowly, which has helped her better recognize when she is truly full and helps her not overeat.
The one-two punch of diet changes and exercise has been successful. In addition to re-experiencing that after-exercise endorphin rush she used to get as an athlete, Trimble has lost 20 pounds.
A mother of two girls, a teenager and a preschooler, Trimble has also gotten better at prioritizing family time. “Managing balance has been big hurdle for me. When I got on a roll at work, I wanted to keep going. I got used to staying late,” she said. “I had a lot of conversations with my husband, the gist being: ‘We never see you. You have to, like, come home.’” By the time her younger daughter was born, Trimble managed to find a little bit better balance. Still, she knows how strong the pull of bad habits can be—especially in her stressful job (see story below).
Trimble knew that once the Get Fit Texas! Challenge ended, her next hurdle would be to keep doing the things she found so helpful. It’s a good thing she has other motivations: She wants her girls to see her taking care of herself and to understand the important responsibility they have to attend to their own physical and mental health. “I don’t want to be the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do kind of mom!”
As a result, Trimble now makes time to exercise at home, with her teenager, on the weekends. “I’ve started doing yoga and encourage my daughter to practice with me,” Trimble said. She wants her daughter to be “purposeful” about her physical activity. “Just as it does for me, I want my daughter to experience how movement can calm an anxious mind and help boost self-confidence.”
Work at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Stability and benefits are a draw; promoting peace and effecting positive change are a bonus
When Kristn Trimble graduated with a degree in public relations and Spanish from Auburn University, she thought she would take on the advertising world, not realizing that “at 24 years old, I wasn’t going to start out as an executive.”
Following 9/11, needing benefits and a salary, Trimble decided to be more pragmatic in her job search. Through a family friend, she decided to apply to become a parole officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). It was a good decision. On January 2, 2022, she celebrated 20 years with TDCJ, the bulk of that in the Dallas II District Parole Office.
Trimble joined TDCJ, in part, for the robust health benefits available to State of Texas employees and their dependents.
“My husband’s job was not as stable as mine and had no benefits,” she said. Now, although he earns more money than she does, “he doesn’t have benefits like mine.”
The work was another reason Trimble chose TDCJ. She liked the idea of helping clients learn how to re-enter society. Part of Trimble’s job is to figure out what options are available for her parolees’ education, employment and/or rehabilitation. “I really enjoy the public safety side of what I do,” she said. “But I also like being able to help people who want help and change.”
Her caseloads have been diverse—from first-time offenders to hardened gang members and sex offenders—but her message is the same to all parolees: “You have the opportunity to start over.”
Now, as a Unit Supervisor for the Dallas II Parole Office, Trimble must pass along what she’s learned to her staff, both seasoned veterans and new hires. With it being a job seekers market, Trimble said, “It’s getting harder to find and keep good officers. We have a lot of people coming and going, and that affects everyone’s work and stress levels.”
Still, Trimble is proud to be part of one of the largest criminal justice agencies in the country. “Offenders don’t learn how to be ‘free’ people in prison,” she stated. In her view, her job and that of the officers she supervises, is to help parolees “gain the social and decision-making skills they may have lacked and which may have led to them going to prison.”
Trimble knows that she’s done her job when, on that rare occasion, a parolee comes back and shares their successes and says, “Thank you.”