Robynne Devine and I met in high school at the north end of Vancouver Island. We were in several classes together, however, most of my memories of her are from volleyball. She was a strong player with a wicked serve, while I cowered behind my teammates, afraid of the ball. Volleyball wasn’t my thing, so I went back to riding bikes and Robynne landed a spot on our high school’s elite volleyball team.
We lost touch after graduation, but then Facebook came along and we reconnected online. Her profile was mostly of her kids with a few old photos of her and her husband, but nothing recent. I didn’t think much of it until one day Robynne posted a family photo, and I was shocked to discover that she was no longer the athletic person I remembered. Robynne weighed 378 lbs.
Robynne met her husband when she was in her early twenties, and that’s when her weight first started to creep up the scale. She said it was the typical, “Get comfortable with a guy, eat and drink what he does. I was probably 50 lbs overweight when I had my first child.”
In the next few years, they would have two more children. “I suffered post-partum depression throughout all my pregnancies. Weight just slowly came after every kid and I was too sick to care. By the time I started to care, it felt hopeless. I was trapped in body that didn’t reflect the things I still wanted to do in life.”
In January 2014, Robynne decided it was time for a change. She registered for Weight Watchers Online and her family started to take her on hikes. Watching a family member die from complications of obesity a few months later was a wake-up call—Robynne realized that could be her if she didn’t do something about her weight. However, she wasn’t expecting her weight loss to be successful. “No one just loses 200 lbs,” she said.
A year later, Robynne had lost 141 lbs. “For the first time. I was putting myself before anyone, including my family,” she replied when asked how she lost the weight.
“I became a complete control freak, I controlled everything that came into our house and every time we visited family, I told them I can’t have certain trigger foods around. My immediate and extended family was amazing, everyone completely bought in and supported, never complaining that they want the junk food around.”
While controlling the food in her environment, Robynne also became increasingly more active. She started to focus on reaching the summit of every hike and as she became more fit, she turned to running and started to register for races. Her first event was the Goodlife 8K Road Race, which she ran in November 2014 with her brother Darren, daughter Brooke, and other family and friends. She felt great for the first half of the course, but midway Robynne started to falter when she started to feel dizzy and a little ill. She had to walk the last kilometer, but her daughter Brooke never left her side. She was the first person to give Robynne a hug when they crossed the finish line.
Robynne continued to register for races to give herself a goal to work towards. Soon she would find herself completing the Tough Mudder in Whistler and eventually half-marathons. Races that she would never had imagined entering—let alone completing—a year before.
“My family hikes that we did every weekend at the beginning of my weight loss journey were a huge reason why I eventually became active. That new goal of getting to that summit of whatever mountain we were tackling that day ended up translating into running goals, biking goals, etc.”
By November 2015, Robynne had lost 204 lbs and had reached her goal weight of 174 lbs. But she discovered that losing the weight was the easy part. “Once I hit my goal weight, transitioning to maintenance was hard. It’s weird, I almost felt lost because I suddenly didn’t have a goal to work towards,” Robynne said. “I had to shift my mind to working on other goals, like my fitness.”
“Physically, the hardest part is the excess skin,” Robynne had a tummy tuck in June 2016, but the other surgeries to remove the excess skin from her arms and legs are considered cosmetic surgery, which isn’t covered by her healthcare plan. “The tummy helps, but I still struggle to come to terms that no matter how hard I work, I won’t have that perfect body I want.”
Her advice for anyone who wants to lose weight is, “to make sure [you] are approaching it as a lifestyle change. This can’t be a fix to get to a place so you can enjoy those old bad habits.”
She also recommends setting small, attainable goals. “Only focus on what’s directly in front of you and set a time frame. For example, I would set a goal to lose 10lbs in six weeks… I would crush that goal, and then that would motivate even more. Suddenly, I became unstoppable. Nothing was going to get in my way.”
Robynne continues to stay active and is relearning how to mountain bike. “I can ride a bike again. I will never forget the day I got my bike [as a] Christmas present, I cried,” she says.
“I always wanted to ride again, but it wasn’t until I went to Whistler in 2015 for my first Tough Mudder that I thought, ‘I need to do this.’ [It] looked so much fun, I had to try it.”
Now that Robynne is fully recovered from her tummy tuck—a recovery that took longer than she expected—she’s back to running and making plans for new adventures.
Robynne is also looking forward to spending more time on her bike this season. If you see her on the trails, give her a high-five!
You can read more about Robynne’s weight loss journey at https://robynnedevine.wordpress.com