Robin has a zest for life that you rarely see in people, embracing travel and adventure to the max. Her laugh is even zesty, powerfully erupting from deep within. I've had the pleasure of working with Robin in The Body Project and we also have a shared interest in essential oils and a mutual friend we're both quite a fan of. What I love about Robin is that regardless of what she's been through in her life (and there are a handful of things not necessary to touch on), she chooses the side of acceptance and peace, dedication and fire. This project is nothing short of that. What we will document is her pure dedication to saving her own life.
On July 17, 2017 Robin will undergo gastric sleeve surgery. In the months to follow, she has to embrace an entirely new way of living and eating. Simply, she has to be even more mindful than she may be already. Aside from the inevitable weight-loss and reversal of her diabetes, Robin said that the biggest reason she's undergoing such a major surgery is because of her nephew who she wants to be able to sit with in a rollercoaster seat at Disney World in 2018 and know that he's safe. She said, "I'm finally taking my life in my hands." I said, "Yes! Rock on, girl! High five!" and we did, with tears in our eyes.
Join us as we document her journey once a month for a year, and please (even though she has a slew of cheerleaders, myself included, by her side) send her all the love and good vibes you can as she changes not only physically, but likely also mentally and spiritually. We're both not sure what to expect and we have a pseudo plan...and that pseudo plan is to not really follow a plan. We're embracing the adventure of it, true Robin-style.
Session 1: JUNE
Our first session was marked by one emotion—excitement. Robin had secured a date for her surgery: 7.17.17. "My surgeon was like, 'That's a very lucky day!'" She was doing everything in her power to prepare mentally and physically—trying to cut back on some of her indulgence foods so it wouldn't be such a blow to not include them in her diet post-surgery, and she was practicing taking one day at a time in order to keep calm and remember not to set too many expectations for the process. All that we had left to do besides sit and enjoy each other's company was document Robin before surgery.
You got this, Robin. Let's rock it!
Session 2: JULY
Since July 17th was Robin's surgery, we had our interview over Facebook Messenger and opted out of photos right now to allow her to recover a bit more before our August session. Without further ado, here's the place Robin is in a little over one week since surgery.
K: How's everything progressing? Any changes? Worries? Happinesses?
R: So far, everyone has been super supportive which is helpful. I had a few set backs last week, trying to do too much too soon and struggling to get my liquids in. It's hard learning how to do everything all over again. This new stomach is no joke! But I found a new, thinner protein shake that tastes like Kool-aid and got 30oz of liquids in yesterday. A personal best. But I need to get to 64oz! I also get to start pureed foods today. Which is exciting. I have pot roast with carrots and onions in the crock pot as we speak. I have no idea why, but that is what I am craving, and I will puree some of it with the gravy and see how it goes. I told a good friend of mine it's kinda like being a baby all over again...instead of breast milk, I get liquid protein, then pureed foods just like baby food, then soft foods just like you would give a toddler when they start on real food....it's so weird!
K: Wow! That's intense! I hope the pureed stew goes over well. That does sound yummy! I'd be hungry for that after straight liquids forever. Lol!
R: I definitely want food. I'm tired of drinking everything, but I have to go slow so I don't make myself sick. My stomach is still sore, sneezing and such hurt, so I can't even imagine how painful vomiting would be if I over ate! BUT! It's not all in vain! I am down almost 30lbs since you have seen me. I've never lost weight this fast, so it's very emotional. I weighed myself this morning and I cried. Which I'm sure is a first of many tears.
K: Oh I bet it hurts! I can't even imagine! And holy shit that's a lot of weight lost! I'd cry too! What's behind those tears? Relief? Fear? Excitement?
R: The tears were a mixture of everything..relief that it's already working, fear and excitement of what my body will change into...I've always been the fat girl. I don't know how to be the average girl. I don't know what it's like to walk into a store and know I can shop in the regular sections and not be forced to the fat girl corner section. It's a lot to process.
K: Do you have therapy through this or are you going to focus on working through it yourself?
R: I have not set up with a therapist. I'm just going to work through it myself. I saw a therapist during the beginning part of the journey because I had to be cleared. She cleared me in fifteen minutes. Lol!
K: I'm so excited and happy for you.
R: It's crazy...you don't really realize how BIG you are, until you see photos of yourself. I always knew I was a big girl, but seeing those before pics makes me realize I didn't see myself in my mind as that big. It's always an eye opener.
K: I heard that a few times from people during The Body Project, too. I am often shocked by how skinny I used to be, but I had never really realized it. Funny how our brains work.
Is it challenging to see? Or liberating?
R: Right now, it's a challenge to see, but at the same time, it will be exciting to see all the progress photos side by side to compare. Eventually, I won't fear full body photos and will embrace them.
Needless to say, we're both excited for August. Our session will happen one month from the date of her surgery. Can't wait to start documenting the progress! Keep cheering Robin on!
Session 3: AUGUST
It was such a joy to finally see Robin post-surgery! You can definitely see weight-loss, but when I hugged her and said, “Wow, you HAVE lost weight!” she dispiritedly said, “Thanks, I can’t tell, but I’m glad other people can!”
I was excited to get our shots in to compare them to June’s photos, but instead I had a lot of questions about the post-surgery experience and process that Robin is going through. The most lengthy part of our discussion was about food and the dawning realization she (and I through her!) is having about how little food we need to survive, but how much emotional attachment we have to the pleasure of foods, both good and bad. She said that, if anything, this is teaching her to slow down. A lesson we all need to learn from time to time.
Okay! Dig in. Here’s the start of Robin’s post-surgery journey!
K: Biggest triumph so far?
R: Sleeping on my stomach again. *Laughs*
K: Biggest struggle?
K: What is the easiest food to eat?
R: Protein shakes. But everything else is trial and error. One meal will sit fine, and the next sits like a rock. So I mostly eat protein shakes, and peanut butter and pretzels. For some reason that sits well. I just don’t want to be in pain.
K: Is this all normal?
R: Yes. Everything I’ve read and anyone who’s been through this has said the same things. It’s about two-six weeks of healing what’s inside, but I forgot that there’s so much more to the journey than that. Recovery is going to be a while.
K: What makes you feel lighter? When you feel defeated, what has lifted you up?
R: Hmmm...I don’t know. I don't really have an answer...feeling defeated is a daily thing right now so I just tell myself tomorrow is a new day and this is normal...
K: What makes you feel heavier?
R: Dwelling on the struggle to eat.
K: Well, I hope for your sake that eating gets easier. Woman’s gotta eat!
R: *Laughs* It will. I look at people who are three plus months out and they love to eat and try new recipes. So I just gotta be patient.
K: Any fears lingering?
R: That I will become one of those people who get too skinny because I still see myself as fat.
K: Wow...I’ve never thought about that before.
R: I see it all the time on Facebook...these women look perfectly healthy and write, "Getting there! Only 20lbs to go!" It's a slippery slope.
K: What’s your weight loss now?
R: 47lbs! 10lbs away from my first goal. I have to make little milestones so I see the progress. At my next goal, I’m getting two tattoos. I’m also off of one and half of my diabetes pills already!
K: Wow. That’s incredible. I’m so happy for you. That was a major goal of yours! Okay, anything else you feel like sharing from the journey thus far?
R: Everyone's journey is so different, what works for one won't necessarily work for another. It's a fickle beast, this new tummy. And I can only take it one day at a time.
K: Nice answer. Very honest. Thank you. It's okay not to feel light. Sometimes, you just gotta sit in the heavy for a while, right?
My favorite part of the whole day? How much Robin’s face lit up when I showed her the photos we had finished taking for this session vs. the ones we took in June.
K: How do you feel now that you’ve seen the photos from both sessions?
R: Amazed! I’m blown away by the differences. I was actually whining to my ex before the shoot that I couldn't see a difference and it was driving me insane. He and I haven't seen each other in thirteen months and he said it was the first thing he noticed when he saw me. So after the shoot, I excitedly told him I could finally see what others are seeing!
And here’s a perfect example of her happiness:
About a week later, Robin sent me this update: Just left my 6 week follow up...BMI is down another 3 points and I've lost 21% of my excess body weight!!!! I'm almost a quarter of the way to the goal weight!!!! I'm on cloud 9! And I don't have any texture limitations, so I'm open to trying any and every kind of food, so tonight I'm going to attempt salad! And I can have popcorn again! I almost did a happy dance in the doctor's office! Lol!
Hell yeah, girl! Keep kickin' ass! And all you reading, keep those positive vibes comin'! Send Robin love, hugs, and cheers.
Are you currently on a weight loss journey of your own? Head down to the comments and let us know what your biggest feat is right now.
Session #4: September
When I did the “5 Ways That We Hide” post a few weeks back, it was because I was thinking about how if we all let go of the ways that we hide, even if only a little bit of letting go, we’d begin to see ourselves and each other so much more clearly. I want to see people! And I think people want to see themselves and others, too! This includes Robin who said the most beautiful thing during our session:
And then, of course, we both teared up.
Maybe she stopped over-comparing or over-analyzing her body. Who knows! The point is that she’s coming out of hiding!
The focus of our conversation during this session centered around food and our relationship with it, and I love how Robin is treating her relationship. She eats whatever she wants (in moderation or she’ll get sick!), and she doesn’t judge herself because she trusts that her body is doing the work it needs to do. She listens to her body’s signal to stop. And she understands that satisfying a craving curbs it. She feels like this process is already hard enough that she doesn’t need to make the process of eating even more difficult. Plus, does judging ourselves and carrying guilt ever help while navigating challenging transformations?
K: What’s been your greatest challenge this month?
R: Trying to stick to my eating schedule on the weekends. It’s a lot harder to get my liquids and protein in on Saturday and Sunday because I’m almost always in the car doing field work with my mom for real estate. Which makes my energy lag and lots of light-headed dizzy spells.
K: What’s been the easiest to overcome?
R: Nothing has really been easy to overcome...this whole journey is tough. It is getting a little easier being open with people about my surgery choice. I still haven’t come out completely about it, still afraid of negative reactions, but so far the people I’ve shared this with have been super supportive.
K: Any humor that's pulled you through a rough moment?
R: I laugh about my “bipolar” tummy all the time! What works once won’t always work a second time! *laughs*
K: What’s a food that’s easier to eat now?
R: Meats are getting a little easier. I ate a rib the other night, but still have to be careful. Peanut butter and soup are still my go to foods.
K: Are there foods that are still difficult?
R: Chicken and most meats unless it’s in broth. I tried eating lobster the other night and it made me very nauseous, but I am blaming that on my stressful work week because seafood hasn’t bothered me at all post surgery.
K: How much weight have you lost since we last saw each other?
R: I don’t remember what I was at when we last saw each other, but I’ve lost a total of 62.4 lbs since July 1st!
K: What’s your next goal?
R: To lose another 45lbs. That will put me into “onederland.” I will be less than 200lbs which I haven’t been in...I couldn’t even tell you when!
K: Any other noticeable differences besides weight?
R: My energy is better, although, because of the low caloric intake, I get tired quicker, but my arthritic pain is significantly less!
K: How are you feeling? In general or right this moment?
R: In general I feel great! I still have my moments where the post surgery depression hits, but my body is going through some crazy hormone fluctuations, so my doctor said it’s normal.
K: Anything else you want to share about what you’re experiencing?
R: This choice has definitely been life changing, it took a lot of mental preparation to get here, years worth, but I’m so grateful that I did it. Watching the numbers on the scale go down, having more energy and less pain, make the struggle worth it.
I am so unbelievably happy to hear Robin say that she has significantly less arthritic pain! As something I have struggled with on and off for the last few years, I know how relieving it is to have some or all of it dissipate from areas of the body.
Something I noted this last time was how Robin isn’t focused on numbers. She doesn’t share what size pants she’s on or what bra cup she’s made it to or what the number on the scale is. Weekly, she’s not obsessed with how much she lost.
I admire her ability to continue focusing on the bigger picture. In the grand scheme of things, she’s not going to give a shit that she ate five potato chips and maybe only lost 4oz one week, she’s going to remember the moment it was humid as hell in September and she realized her arthritis wasn’t acting up. Or how we had a good laugh about how she’s always cold at work now that she’s losing her insulation. ;) I hear that, Robin! Story of my life.
Right now, Robin’s sticking with her LuLaRoe clothes, grateful that her boobs are shrinking, and looking forward to eating a Taffy Apple in Disney World. <3
INTERESTED IN DOING A PERSONAL STORY PROJECT? I'D BE HONORED TO BE A PART OF IT. CONTACT ME HERE.
Session #5: October
This session was short and sweet due to Robin and me having full schedules, but it wasn't short of hugs, good convo, and laughs, as always. And there are still juicy nuggets we discuss (both challenging and easy). So let's dig right in!
K: So, how was Disney World with this different body?
R: Disney was amazing! Mom and I split all of our meals. I fit on all the rides more comfortably, and I didn’t get tired as quickly! Also, let’s talk about the plane! I could use the tray AND I had to tighten the belt! I was so excited about this!
K: That's the best. It's the little things!
K: What has changed since we last saw each other?
R: I can eat chicken now!!! That seems odd, but that has been a huge struggle till now.
K: What food is easiest to eat? Hardest still?
R: Easiest food to eat is all seafood. I still haven’t tried beef, I fear that will be a struggle.
K: What's made you feel light?
R: My amazing support system (online and close friends) helps to keep me feeling light.
R: I still deal with occasional depression from hormone fluctuations, but it doesn’t usually last long. And my hair has started falling out, which sucks! I knew it was going to happen, but damn! I didn’t have a lot to begin with!
K: Woah! What the hell?! Why?
R: Because I have lost so much weight so fast it throws the body into a crazy shit storm of wtf, so the hair comes out. I take a ton of biotin so it’s growing back in, but it doesn’t stop it from falling out.
K: Wow. That's intense! Will it one day settle and stop freaking out?
R: Oh yeah, once the weight loss slows down. I realized this morning I’m just a little past my halfway point!
K: Oh good. And congrats! Okay, explain the new tattoos!
R: I decided to reward myself with tattoos when I hit milestones. My first milestone was a 50lb weight loss. So I got some feet tattoos: my dad’s signature and a Swedish dahla horse on one foot and my mom’s signature and a clover on the other. That way, I have a part of them with me forever.
*Pro tip: Click the image to enlarge it and see the detail*
K: I love that so much. They're awesome. I might steal that idea! Anything else you feel like sharing?
R: This journey is hard...but it is very rewarding. As my body is changing, I started having fears that I would look like a different person, that my nieces and nephews wouldn’t recognize me...I never voiced this to anyone, then I get a text from my best friend, Rita, that Renly (who I consider a nephew) saw a photo of me from Disney and said, “Who's that?” He didn’t recognize me. But when she said, “That’s Aunt Robin,” he recognized me again and asked why I looked so different. She explained that I was getting smaller and he asked if I would fit in his pocket. My irrational fear was momentarily validated, but then reassured quickly.
K: Do you have a mantra/affirmation you tell yourself every day?
R: No, not really. Just, one day at a time, I suppose. If I think beyond today, I tend to get a little obsessed about what I'd look like with some of this skin removed or my butt plumped a bit or my breasts lifted. Everything is kinda saggy right now. *laughs* But I know that it's a process.
Probably my favorite moment of her session was when she pulled her pants out and said, "These aren't going to stay on me much longer!" and I attempted to get one of those classic "look at how much room there is now that I've lost tons of weight" photos and failed. That made us both burst out laughing. I get so ecstatic capturing Robin's laugh. It's infectious.
Robin's update to me on November 8th:
R: So I just had my 3 month follow up (almost 4 months post surgery due to schedule conflicts lol) I have lost 37% of my excess body weight, my bmi is down 11 points and my blood pressure is 98/60!!! My bp has always been high, even on meds I average in the 120s/70s! Absolutely amazing! My mind is blown! The nurse even commented on how better I move around, which I always thought I moved pretty good for my size but it made me realize I don’t grunt and moan getting in and out of a sitting position anymore!
K: WOAH! That is so amazing, Robin! I'm ridiculously happy for you. How relieving is all that?!
R: It's incredibly relieving. My body is changing so much that I don't always notice it until someone else makes me see it. It's crazy and exciting!
And then I looked up the word "badass" under GIFs and accidentally sent her this one:
Her response was perfectly Robin: Lmao! I can dig it. That 'stache and windbreaker are pretty badass!
Session #6: November
Before our November session, I sent my questions to Robin with the disclaimer: We're gettin' deep, here. She answered the questions like a champ and then surprised me with an even deeper topic I would've never guessed was a frustrating occurrence in post-surgery life: stalling. Keep reading to see where Robin's at physically, mentally, and spiritually, and to learn about stalling and how she's dealing with it.
K: What major physical changes have you started seeing this last month?
R: This is gonna seem weird, but putting fresh sheets on my bed is so much easier now! I used to dread it because it would exhaust me, but not anymore! I can even sit on the floor in, what I call the cheerleader pose, one leg bent out to the side. I’ve never sat like that in my adult life and subconsciously sat like that the other day for a long time. And it didn’t cause any hip or back pain!
K: What major mental shifts have you discovered?
R: I haven’t really noticed any mental shifts. I still deal with occasional depression, but I remind myself why I did this in the first place, and it doesn’t usually last longer than a day.
K: Anything shifting for you spiritually? I know it seems like such a funny question, but sometimes that part of us changes due to physical and mental changes.
R: This is a hard question...I don’t think anything has changed in that aspect. I’ve noticed some things coming full circle, like my affirmation from The Body Project has definitely come full circle during this journey: “Beauty doesn’t have a weight limit.”
K: What does that affirmation mean to you?
R: The affirmation means the same thing as it did then...your weight doesn’t determine your beauty or your worth...it still doesn’t, but shedding some of it has helped me see myself again. I was hiding behind my weight. I had been hurt a lot, both physically and mentally, so food turned into a temporary comfort, and the extra weight was a veil to hides the wounds. I can see the scars again, but they aren’t negative to me anymore. They are a part of who I am, and they helped mold the person I have become.
K: Oh my goodness, Robin. I love that, and you, so much. Okay, now, what's been your biggest frustration?
R: Stalls! This whole month has been so frustrating! My nutritionist told me that when a stall happens, we usually are losing inches. The body is good at balancing out what needs to be done, but when that number on the scale doesn’t change even an ounce for 3 weeks, it’s super discouraging!
K: I know you always tell yourself one day at a time, but is there any mantra that's different to help you through?
R: I am not much of a mantra person, but I still remind myself one day at a time because each day can be completely different. Being stalled all month was driving me crazy, but I kept reminding myself one day at a time, and then Thanksgiving morning I got on the scale and was down 2lbs.
K: It's amazing how much you're constantly having to learn patience with and trust in your body's process. So what's been your biggest triumph?
R: Ok, this one is going to seem odd, but I’ve had this weird scar tissue bump on my hip/upper thigh area of my right leg from where the seat belt buckle rubs against me. It’s shrinking and disappearing! I’m no longer so wide that the buckle is rubbing against me! And when we go to the theatre, I can actually use the arm rests now! My fat rolls no longer use them!
K: That's so exciting! Are you seeing any changes in how the outside world treats you now?
R: In all honesty, yes. Men have been more likely to hold doors open for me at stores than ever before, which is both nice and odd. I’ve always been the type to smile at strangers but more people are smiling back now.
K: How does/do the different attention/reactions from people make you feel?
R: I’m grateful to the kindness from strangers. I refuse to dwell on how I was treated in the past. I know there is a negative stigma to obese women in this world, but I always remained kind to everyone. The universe is bringing that kindness full circle.
K: You have such a great spirit. Thank you for being you. ♡♡
**Fun side note and outtakes I hadn't intended on using**
Robin and I had a good laugh about her clothes and how useless her pants have become! Lol! So we documented (the best we could) how much room is actually in those pants! Lol!
She's lost in these clothes now, and that's a beautiful thing. :D
Session #7: December and January
Robin and I really clicked this session more than previous ones, and I couldn't tell if it was just holiday cheer that hadn't worn off or if we both needed a good talk, but what I did notice was that Robin seems more comfortable in her own skin than I've ever seen her.
I also think both of us have shifted into new places in our lives since we met in November that has made us both much more confident and open. For the first time, I felt compelled to take a portrait of Robin outside our standard shots, simply because she radiated light this day. It was magical to witness.
Be prepared, people, we really have gotten to the point where Robin is completely lost in that outfit she always wears to show her progress. No complaints from her! We laugh heartily about saggy butt jeans. ;) Also, this is by far my favorite quote of the session:
Keep reading to find out why and for more juicy details of happiness.
K: What has been the biggest change since November?
R: I think the biggest change has absolutely nothing to do with the surgery...well, I guess it kinda is. Because of the post surgery depression and feelings of being alone, even though I have an amazing support system, I unblocked my ex boyfriend several months ago. We had reopened our communication with each other and he quickly turned into an emotional support system I didn't realize I was missing, but then we accidentally got back together and fell right back into our old problems. So I was forced to step back from him and go back to being just friends. Then he broke down his walls and got vulnerable before Christmas. We made a plan and got back together. He is right there to support me in everything, cheering me on when I'm frustrated and reminding me how far I've come.
K: What has been the biggest challenge?
R: Biggest challenges are still stalls...I am 21lbs away from a 100lb loss. I was hoping to have hit that by the new year and I failed because I've been stalling so bad! So, I readjusted the goal to hit it by my bday, which is March 18th. *fingers crossed this stall finally breaks!*
K: What's been your greatest joy?
R: The greatest joy is having better health! I've been taken off several medications, I have more energy, less pain...it's amazing!
K: We're halfway through this project, how does that make you feel?
R: We aren't quite halfway yet. I go next week to the surgeon for my 6 month followup. The time has gone so fast! It's crazy to me! And seeing my side by sides still blow me away! I sent Rita a selfie the other day, and I didn't have to take a million photos to get one halfway decent one. I can now get a good looking selfie on the first take because my face isn't as fat! I still do double takes when I look at the mirror because I forget it's me. I'm indescribably happy that I finally decided to do this, to take my life back into my hands and be the best version of me that I can possible be.
K: Where are you at personally with your progress?
R: I didn't hit my year end goal, which sucks, but I'm so freaking close! So I just had to readjust the end date and remind myself how far I've come and that it's not a failure.
K: How's the food situation coming?
R: Food is easier, some days are easier than others. It's still weird that I can only eat maybe a cup worth of food per sitting, usually less. My mom still makes comments "We will have to try that restaurant when you can eat more." No, there will never be a "more." This is my life now. My life is getting 3-4 meals out of 1 entree and that's ok! I'm food rich! LOL!
K: Any major physical changes aside from weight/in loss?
R: The most major physical change has been the hair loss...my hair has always been fine, but I had a lot of it...now I have fine, thin hair, and it sucks! I'm thinking about cutting it so the regrowth can catch up...
K: Anything else you want to share about your journey so far?
R: I'm the happiest I have ever been...for the first time in what feels like forever, I can honestly say my heart is full and happy! It's not entirely from the weight loss, but that definitely helped. Everything in my life is finally settling into place. And it feels amazing!
*6month follow up report: "Just got back from my 6 month follow up...I am officially no longer a diabetic! Woot Woot! I have lost 46% of my excess weight and my BMI is 36! I am officially the healthiest I have ever been in my adult life! It blows my mind! I am only 56lbs away from the end goal!"*
Honestly, the fact that she's no longer a diabetic is one of the things I wanted badly to hear from Robin, and it happened in 6 months. How much joy do you feel for her, people?! This is incredible. KEEP GOING, ROBIN! You got this.
Session #8: February
When Robin pulled up to my house, I literally had to do a double take because I didn’t realize it was her. She’s small! It’s wild. When she walked down my sidewalk, I thought, It IS Robin! It’s easier to wrap my arms around her when we hug! I can’t get over the difference. I’m so proud of her.
K: What has significantly changed in your mind/body/spirit since our last session?
R: I don’t think I’ve had any significant changes, I’m still trucking along trying to hit all my goals. I do my best to stay positive and still treat every day as a new day.
*Side note: In actuality, she has had significant changes, but I think they’re noticeable more by others than by her. ;) Read on to see why I mention this.
R: My biggest triumph is reversing my type 2 diabetes! That was the main goal of doing this, and it goes to show I made the right choice in having this surgery. It was never about the number on the scale, it was always about being a healthier version of me.
*Another side note: Later during our session, I asked her about the reversal of her diabetes and if she was off all of the meds. She explained that one med that helped her diabetes also helps her polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but that the huge loss of weight and this lifestyle change has actually increased her chances of having a baby and may decrease or rid of her PCOS altogether. Listening to her talk about the possibility of life with a child (though scary in all of its challenges) was incredibly beautiful, and it lit her up...though I think she was making sure not to get too overjoyed by the thought of it.
R: Food will always be a struggle. There are days when I literally have to force myself to eat. The desire just isn’t there. And I still have issues with certain foods working one day, and then the next, the exact same thing can make me sick. It’s so much easier to just drink the protein and skip the eating part, but that is frowned upon.
K: I’ve been curious, has anything had to change in your self-care routine since your surgery/great weight-loss?
R: Nothing really changed in that department, but things have gotten easier. Like, it’s easier to shave my legs because bending over and flexibility is better, but I still hate to do it. Lol!
K: What have your shopping experiences been like (if you’ve shopped for new clothes yet!)?
R: I still haven’t really gone shopping, so I still don’t know what size I would wear in jeans and things like that, but I need a swimsuit for the cruise I’m going on in May. So, I took a leap of faith with a good coupon code and ordered a size 14 swimsuit, and as of a few weeks ago, it almost fit! There is a good chance it will be too big in May. But for comparison, my swimsuit from last summer was a size 24! There is a 2 piece Minnie Mouse inspired skirted bikini at Torrid that I am eyeballing for the cruise (since it’s a Disney Cruise, it would be perfect), but I’m still not sure I could pull it off. And I have no idea what size to even buy! But I love it so!
K: Do you feel different besides physically?
R: I do, it’s weird. I don’t have as much mind fog and I’m not as moody. I read somewhere that fat cells hold hormones, so as you lose weight fast, you have crazy weird mood swings that happen quickly and with no rhyme or reason. I found I was depressed one minute then pissed off for no reason the next. That doesn’t happen as often, which is nice. And I’m not as tired as I used to be. I’ve lost 95lbs so far, so I never realized how much that extra weight was wearing me down. I can function on less sleep now, and I wake up feeling refreshed, unlike before where I would wake up wishing I could take a nap.
And of course, we had to have fun with the saggy pants again. This time we got a good one of the significant loss in inches! And Robin channeled Steve Urkel for a hot second. ;)
K: What’s your next goal?
R: The next goal is to lose 5lbs to hit that 100lb mark, then after that, it’s a smaller goal. At that point, I will only be 37lbs away from the goal weight, and the less I have to lose, the slower the loss will become, so I’m decreasing the goals to every 10lbs. I’m hoping to hit my end goal by the 1yr mark. Wouldn’t that be amazing?!
K: Anything else you’d like to share with me about your journey so far?
R: This journey has been a very unique struggle of self awareness and learning. I knew I used food as an emotional support, but I didn’t realize just how much and how often until I was forced to reflect on my life and how I got to the weight I was. It has been the wake up call I needed to make healthier life choices, both with food and mental health.
One thing I noted sitting and talking with Robin is that she’s softer, energetically…(her skin has always been soft). ;) Robin, in my eyes, always came with a bit of spunk...an edge, perhaps, that made her sassy. And while I always appreciated that side of her and the fact that it still pops out every once in a while, this softer Robin is just as awesome. It feels like she’s settling into herself more, and she definitely makes it vocal that a huge amount of weight (in all manners of speaking) has been lifted from her mind, body, and spirit. It shows.
You're kicking ass, Robin.❤
Session #9: March
This session was playful, full of chatter and excitement due to Robin reaching a major milestone! She's definitely lighter (in presence) more now than I've ever known her to be and she exudes peace and calm. No doubt this process requires all the patience in the world, and I commend her for her ability to embody strength when there are certainly days to feel otherwise. I love this interview. It's ripe with change. Just in time for Spring.
K: So, you have exciting news to share! What is it? ;)
R: I finally lost over 100 pounds!!!!
K: YES! How does that make you feel?
R: Amazing! It’s so crazy! When I stepped on the scale I actually let out an exasperated “Finally!” I just felt like I was never going to hit that goal!
K: What’s the next goal?
R: The next goal is to hit “Onederland” and officially be under 200lbs. Only 5lbs to go!
K: Aside from weight, what has been the most significant change in your life as a result of all of this?
R: Definitely my energy level and sleeping! I can function on less sleep because I get better sleep now. My fitness and sleep tracker has been an interesting knowledge tool for this. I used to toss and turn for hours before falling asleep, now I fall asleep in a matter of minutes of laying down (even when my bf leaves the TV on all night!). I’m still not a morning person, but I can function on less coffee now.
K: Any changes to your physical routine?
R: Physical routine is still the same: wake up way too early for work, shower, get ready, make a protein shake, and work. I’m a creature of habit, so I tend to stick to my routine like my life depends on it.
K: Anything weighing you down?
R: This is going to seem like a weird answer...but I’ve had a lot of stress and anxiety over the fact that I don’t look like my license and passport pictures anymore. Like, you can tell it’s me, but a much larger version of me, and I leave for a cruise on May 8th, so I’m worrying that TSA and the Port check-in will question who I am. My brain is fun!
K: What’s been lifting you up on hard days?
R: I still just remind myself tomorrow is a new day. I still have issues with eating on some days, everything sits wrong and makes me nauseous for no real reason, and I just tell myself tomorrow will be easier and it usually is. I just have to accept that this is my life now.
K: Do you miss your bigger body?
R: I still look down and see my bigger body...I still don’t see myself as smaller. When I’m in a crowd, I still survey the layout to see where I can fit to squeeze past people or which side of the booth in the restaurant is larger. It’s a hard thing to let go of when you have been doing that most of your life. I always get surprised when I fit somewhere with extra room.
K: Do you find that this huge change has made you want to try something different or do/think something differently than you have in the past?
R: It definitely has changed me into wanting to try new things that I was scared to try otherwise, or go find old habits that I used to love. When I was a kid, I rode my bike like crazy, then stopped when I learned to drive. Now I’m looking into buying a bike so I can start exploring the trails by my house, if it ever warms up. I’m looking into doing the 5K on the cruise! I will walk it, but it’s still a huge thing that I am even excited to try! And I’m going to try snorkeling for the first time. I’m allowing myself to step out of the shadows, and I’m more willing to be seen now.
K: Anything else you wish to share about your journey so far?!
R: I’m a size 14! I had a coupon for Kohl’s and decided to attempt to try on some Bermuda shorts. I cried in the fitting room. To go from a size 22 to a 14 blew my mind!
After reading through all of Robin's answers, I was bawling and had to tell her this:
K: I'm crying right now. It's crazy everything you're going through and all the mental shifts that have to keep happening or are still yet to develop. I'm amazed at your courage to try.
R: I got emotional answering these questions. It's definitely a huge mental shift that might never completely happen, but I'm just trying to enjoy the ride!
Well, I'm enjoying the ride with you, girl! Love you!
Session #10: April
Holy shit, you guys! Robin is feelin' herself! 🔥It's the first time I've observed physical confidence from her. The moment she walked in, I thought, Something's changed. Dress hugging her body. Wedged heels (that she can now try again!). Standing taller. Smiling like she's in love.
When I told her we should do her fun, impromptu photos first instead of last this time and then paused to consider a pose, she said, "I really love the sitting poses we've been doing. Let's do that!" That was the first time Robin had been enthusiastic about portraits and willing to express her desires for posing.
She truly has come out of hiding and may be starting/willing to believe her size, even if her habitual mind still tells her she's bigger.
It's beautiful to see her so happy (despite some recent sad news about her beloved kitty). Read on.
K: What's new since we last saw each other?
R: Honestly, not much has changed...the good, I was able to buy a size Large dress! The bad, cancer won, and I lost my sweet kitty. She was 18 and led a great life, but it’s lonely without her.
K: Aw. I’m so sorry. Losing a kitty is so hard...
Are you meeting appropriate baby goals you've set for yourself?
R: Baby goals? What are those? Lol! I’m not supposed to start trying until 15 months [post surgery], but I already went off my birth control so it can be out of my system and hopefully happen when the time is right.
K: What is the biggest thing you're working toward now?
R: Definitely having this skin cut off! I am going to request a referral to the plastic surgeon when I go for my one year follow up. I probably have 20-30lbs of skin on my stomach. And I want it GONE!
K: Anything heavy or frustrating?
R: My heart has been heavy for a week from losing Daisy, and work has been super stressful, so eating has been difficult. I don’t like to eat when I’m upset. And the stuff I want to eat is crappy for me. I might have had ice cream for dinner last night and breakfast this morning.
K: Lol! Hey, do what you gotta do! Anything making you feel super uplifted?
R: Vacation! I cannot wait to be on a ship in the middle of the ocean with no cell phone, no internet, and no work!
K: What did you feel when you saw the last progression of side by sides I made?
R: Amazed! I know I’ve said this before, but I still look down and see that obese girl. I still don’t see my smaller self, so it still blows me away to see the photos.
K: Have you bought yourself any new clothes yet or still taking it slow?
R: Lol! See question 1! I don’t buy a lot, but when my dresses start swallowing me up, I allow myself to buy a new one. The red dress is my newest.
K: Any new discoveries with food? In general about your body?
R: Nothing new with food. I do have less hard days, but I still have to remind myself to eat. With my body, extra skin floats, which is hilarious and disgusting. Lol!
K: Anything else you want to share about your journey so far?
R: Even though I have a hard time seeing myself the way I look now (two old friends didn’t recognize me just recently!), I’m still so happy I decided to do it. It’s been hard and a struggle, and sometimes I question my choice, but the struggles are minor to a lifetime of better health.
And the big picture: I have way more good days than bad days, and it’s just going to continue to get better and better!
I believe that, Robin. Because it's you. 💕
Session #11: may
As these sessions near their end, a few things have become quite clear: #1. Robin and I are closer than we've ever been. #2. Robin exudes a strength, calm, and contentment that I've had the pleasure of witnessing develop over these last 11 months. However, Robin's also in a bit of a lull regarding major changes physically. Doesn't mean she isn't still proud and rockin' herself.
K: What's new?
R: Not much. Got a new tattoo for hitting Onederland (weight in the 100s). And already made plans to get my next tattoo at the one year anniversary in July. I can’t believe it’s been almost a year already!
K: How was the cruise this time compared to your last trip?
R: The cruise was better because Mom wasn’t in a wheelchair this time. Lol! It was a smaller ship than I have ever been on which was kinda nice, saw a lot of the same faces and made some friendships. I went snorkeling for the first time in the ocean which was amazing! I was literally swimming with a random sea turtle! Such a beautiful moment! Mom and I walked the 5K on Castaway Cay; my brother ran it. It was considered a “fun run” so they didn’t judge you if you cheated a little, which we did. About halfway through, Mom started limping; she’s still building her leg back up after the break, so we skipped the last half mile. But still, we did awesome!
K: Any major changes since we last saw each other?
R: No, nothing major, still just trucking along.
K: Do you miss anything about “old” Robin/your previous self or body?
R: I am still the same Robin, just in a smaller body. I do not miss being larger; it’s nice to be able to go into a store and know I can find clothes that fit now. Shopping is no longer cringe worthy. I was able to find cute tops in all the ships gift shops that fit on the first try! It was so exciting!
K: What are you most looking forward to right now?
R: Plastic surgery! Lol! I know I’ve said it in the past, but I want this skin cut off!
K: Have you told anyone about your surgery yet or are you still keeping it personal?
R: I tell some people, but I have not yelled it from the rooftop. I’m still afraid of any kind of negative reactions. This was a deeply personal decision and a lot of people see it as a cop out; they don’t understand the struggles and how hard the choice was to make. I’m proud of myself for taking the leap and doing it, but I’m not sure I will ever go fully public with this information.
K: The people you have been telling people, what are their reactions?
R: The people I have told have been very supportive. I’m lucky in that sense. And I’ve learned several of my friends have been considering it, so I’ve turned into a confidant for them and they ask a lot of questions. I’m honest with them about the struggles I faced and how the positives outweigh all the negatives. I even share the link to the blog with them so they can read about my journey.
K: For the longest time, food was the main focus. What's the main focus for you now?
R: Nutrition is the main focus, hitting my protein, water, and calcium goals, and taking my vitamins. Some days, I don’t want to eat so I have to make sure I’m still getting protein and calcium in other forms. It’s a constant conscious understanding of what is going into my body.
K: Anything else you want to share about your journey so far?
And this is why you totally inspire me, Robin.
Session #12: june
One year ago, Robin and I got together for her before surgery portraits. She was excited and nervous, but had tremendous faith that she would persevere the healing process because she knew that this decision was going to change her life. Though, she had no idea just how much it would.
K: We're coming up on the one year anniversary of your surgery. What's going through your head?
R: I have many emotions going through my head, but the most prominent is just gratitude. I’m so grateful that I finally took the leap to do this, I’m grateful to my amazing surgical team, and I’m grateful to my insurance for covering most of the cost. I’m grateful to have better health and a better life thanks to this journey.
K: Have you reached all the goals you wanted by this time?
R: I have not reached all of my goals, but I reached a lot of them. I was hoping to have lost a little more weight by now, but my body keeps fluctuating between the same 5lbs, so I think my body found its comfort zone. Which I’m OK with. I know I have 20-30lbs of skin that needs to be removed from my stomach, so I probably am right where I should be, but can’t see it because of the skin. I went from a size 22 to a size 14 pant, my chest went from a 44G to a 40F, and I can wear a size Large top. It still blows my mind.
K: What has changed the most for you, besides weight?
R: I’m more likely to choose the furthest parking spot. Lol! I don’t over-heat anymore, so I’m more likely to willingly walk further distances now. I no longer circle looking for that closest parking spot to the door.
K: This past month, what kind of changes have you seen?
R: I’ve noticed more confidence in myself; I used to look down when I walked and I’m noticing I’m holding my head up more now. I’m not as quick to try to hide.
K: Any lingering frustrations?
R: The frustration is looking down and seeing the skin. Even though I know it’s just skin, that little voice in my head screams that it’s fat. It’s hard to shut that little voice up. I can’t wait to get a referral to a plastic surgeon to get the ball rolling to have it removed. But that creates its own fears.
K: What are you most looking forward to this next month before our final session together?
R: I go for my 1 yr follow up before our last session; I’m excited to see where my BMI is at. I’m excited to get that referral to the plastic surgeon, and I’m really excited to see what my surgeon has to say about my progress. He is such an amazing cheerleader for all his patients and is so genuine.
K: Anything else you want to share about this journey?
R: I just want to say thank you! Thank you for being such an amazing support during this past year. I can’t imagine going through it without you!
Honored to have been your witness, friend.
Session #13: July, the final session of the series
It's difficult to put this final session with Robin into words. We did the interview in person this time, so there was a lot of talking and laughing as we caught up on Robin's last month. There were tears. Robin seems to have settled into a groove with where her body is at and exudes a hope for a different future than she likely saw previous to considering surgery. It's hard to imagine an end to this project and no longer getting to artistically express Robin's journey, but the fact that we were able to do this together is beautiful. And Robin's beautiful. Always has been.
K: It's been a year since we documented your first changes after surgery. What's going through your head?
R: It blows my mind. The time flew by so quickly, and the changes; the journey’s been insane. It’s hard to put to thought because there’s so much. It’s still crazy. It’s weird. When I look in the mirror, I still see me, but other people don’t see me that way anymore. My smile looks different! Theme of this year: It’s weird!
K: When you reflect on this whole project, what stands out the most, aside from your weightloss?
R: My confidence and self-awareness. I’m more comfortable in my own skin now. I don’t hide when people take pictures now. Being more comfortable with myself. I walked around a mall alone! I would’ve never done that before. I always was afraid of people saying, “Look at that fat girl by herself.” Now I don’t think that way.
K: Overall, what was your biggest challenge?
R: Learning how to eat! *laughs* Because that was hard. Literally like a baby: liquids, softs, solids. Learning what it’s like to eat again is weird. Your stomach is learning how to digest and reprocess things.
K: Overall, what was easiest (if anything!)?
R: I don’t think anything was easy. I guess how quickly the weight came off was easy. Everything really was a struggle. You saw me go through it. I had easy days, but I had a lot of struggle days. The last two months have been the easiest because my body is comfortable now. My stomach is healed. My brain understands better. I don’t force myself to eat. That mental shift was difficult.
K: We'll recreate your Body Project photo today. How does that make you feel?
R: I’m both nervous and excited to see them side by side. That was so long ago. It’ll be interesting to see how much has changed.
K: Where are you now in your goals?
R: I’m at about 25lbs to hit goal weight. That could all be skin. I go to the plastic surgeon in two weeks to find out what’s next.
K: So what is next?
R: Skin removal. And two tattoos. A watercolor rose for my Surgerversary and the phrase “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere” with the enchanted rose compass when I hit my final goal.
K: What are you gonna do with your outfit?
R: I think I’m going to keep it. It’s my reminder of what I don’t want to return to.
K: Anything else you want to share about your journey thus far?
R: I lost 105lbs in a year! I lost almost a Katy! *laughs*
K: What are you most grateful for through this journey?
R: My surgeon. It’s thanks to him. He’s given me the tools to live. 💕
Peace, love, and health to you, Robin. Cheers to your future! Xoxoxox
INTERESTED IN DOING A PERSONAL STORY PROJECT? I'D BE HONORED TO BE A PART OF IT. CONTACT ME HERE.