Robyn Heals Her Chronic Skin Condition by Losing 127 Pounds
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Full name:Robyn Russell
What was the turning point that prompted you to lose weight?I've battled a chronic skin disease called Hidradenitis Suppurativa since the age of 15. I suffered for years with painful clusters the size of golf balls under my arms. After numerous treatments and ongoing medication, my doctors told me there was nothing else they could do besides surgery, which comes with the risk of death. The condition is more common in overweight women, and the older and heavier I got, the worse the disease became. On top of that I battled high blood pressure, severe depression, and a leaking heart valve.
When did you start trying to lose weight?I tried countless fad diets in search of magical, overnight weight loss. They were all temporary fixes, and each time I found myself right back where I started. With no physical activity and bad eating habits, I was a walking time bomb.
I was fed up, aggravated, depressed, and tired. On September 29, 2011, I reached deep down within myself and found an ounce of motivation to say, “enough is enough.” I prayed and asked God to please give me the strength to change my way of thinking and give me for the new journey I was about to begin. On that day, I made a solid promise to myself that I would never look back.
What was your biggest challenge?My biggest challenge was changing my bad eating habits, like eating late at night and eating tons of fried foods and carbs. It was hard to exercise, because after just 15 minutes of walking, my thighs would burn from chafing. But I never gave up. Eventually, those 15 minutes turned into walking seven days a week (no chafing!), and a year later I completed my very first 5K. Today, I've completed 14 races and counting. On March 1, 2015, I completed my longest race: a 10 miler. Who would have thought that was ever possible? Not me! I’m currently training for my very first half marathon and am very excited about it!
Were there any times when you wanted to quit or give up?Before I got into the groove of my new healthy lifestyle, there were many times I felt like throwing in the towel. My mind was saying, “you’re not going to make it; this is too hard.” I felt myself losing sight of why I started my journey in the first place. But I was actually experiencing great progress with my skin disease, which quickly snapped me out of it! I kept educating myself on health and fitness, and I didn't allow myself to fall into a comfort zone.
If you reached a weight-loss plateau, how did you break out of the rut?I reached a few plateaus during my journey. What worked best for me was to trick my body with a cheat day. Not a crazy, out-of-control binge — just one splurge like a slice of my favorite carrot cake, or a generous portion of fried shrimp. Then I would get right back on track with my healthy eating and working hard towards my goals. This helped me to break out of the rut.
What’s your current exercise routine?I exercise seven days a week. Five days I go hard-core at the gym with either a Spinning or Zumba class, plus weight training. On my light days, I do at least 5 miles of power walking and often switch things up so I don’t get bored with my fitness routine. Sometimes I’ll go skating at the rink, do some water jogging, or ride my beach cruiser for about 8 miles. The key is to stay active and keep moving. I wear a Fitbit daily, which is a great motivator, and I average anywhere from 20,000 to 26,000 steps a day.
What’s your daily diet look like?I never skip breakfast. Most mornings I have a bowl of high-fiber oatmeal with a banana. I also like making protein shakes or eggs, turkey bacon, and a slice of multi-grain toast with some homemade sugar-free mango jam that my friend makes for me. My lunch is usually my heaviest meal of the day. Being from the islands, I love to cook cuisine like coconut rice and peas, and steamed cabbage and curry chicken, but now I make it much healthier. I prepare my favorite island recipes on Sunday, and have lunch prepared for three days or so. On other days, I eat tuna or chicken wraps, salads, oven-fried chicken, or grilled seafood, plus plenty of fruits and vegetables. I'm rarely hungry at dinnertime, and I don’t eat past 7 p.m. But if I am hungry, I'll have like a bowl of fresh cherries or watermelon, and plenty of lemon water.
What’s your favorite healthy snack and meal?One of my favorite healthy snacks is all-natural, gluten-free plantain banana chips. I also enjoy fruit with Greek yogurt. My favorite meal is my island-style curry shrimp with coconut jasmine rice, steamed cabbage, and purple corn juice. I love it — it’s full of mouthwatering flavor, even though I make it healthy!
How has losing weight changed your life?I am stronger, healthier, and smarter, all because I chose to change the way I eat and start moving my feet! I'm much happier and enjoying life — taking control of my health was the best decision I could have ever made. I've been healed from the diseases that haunted me for years. I have more energy. I've been able to inspire and motivate others with my journey, helping to educate them on how to live a healthier lifestyle. Many people look up to me as their mentor; I'm grateful to have made such a positive impact on so many lives.
Do you have any advice for those trying to lose weight?I didn’t use surgery, crash diets, or harsh pills to achieve my success — just pure determination. It’s not an easy journey, but it's not impossible, either. If you believe in yourself, you will achieve your goals. Find a fit and healthy lifestyle that works best for you, and stay committed to it. Small things add up: park farther away from the building, take the stairs instead of an elevator, and drink plenty of water. Stick to your serving sizes, and practice portion control; eating off smaller plates can help. I highly suggest investing in a Fitbit or a pedometer. Seeing the steps will encourage you to move more each day. Always remain inspired, motivated, and committed to your journey, and you will see your life transform!
Follow Robyn’s weight-loss journeyon Facebook.
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