Emily Robinson: Family, College, Health, and Weight

Emily Robinson, AuthorMy struggles with weight and health began when I was 3, after my parents got married and my mom got a promotion. Her job became more stressful, home-cooked meals became rare, and healthy living wasn’t a priority. My mom, my dad, and I all began to put on weight. We tried cooking at home more and working out as a family, but time never allowed. I was bullied throughout elementary school and in the 5th grade, could no longer shop in the kid’s section for clothes. The impact of my weight worsened in middle school.

I longed to play school sports, but I was scared of going to the doctor to get a physical and the inevitable conversation about my weight gain. I began playing for recreation leagues instead. As I continued to gain weight, my fears of trying out for the school team grew.

Online Research

Instead of going to the doctor, I researched diets online for hours. Nothing worked. By the time I was 15, I weighed 247 pounds at 5 ft. 9 in. I remember the day I stepped on the scale and spent the next couple of hours crying in my room. Every day after I told myself, “Today is the day …” For a while it worked, but some days I would eat so little that by the time I came home, I was starving and would binge eat. But I kept trying. I thought if I starved myself and exercised more, I would see a change on the scale.

The first time I ran an entire mile, it took me 13 minutes and 43 seconds. I will never forget that number. I fell in love with working out. But, my temptations regarding food persisted. I was so tired of constantly fighting for little success. Eventually, I turned to low-carb diets.

Lost Weight and Health

In my last semester of high school, I lost 43 pounds. I felt elated. Finally, something worked. Everybody told me how amazing I looked. I fit into smaller clothes. I shopped for my senior prom dress in stores instead of online. But, truth is, I was miserable. I had not done my research. I was eating roughly 600-700 calories a day, and burning 400 calories via fasted cardio. Some days it became a game. Could I burn more calories than I had eaten today? I felt constantly tired and my priorities shifted from friends to calorie intake and cardio. The worst part? I thought I had finally done something right, and society encouraged my unhealthy behavior because it made me thinner.

A Saving Grace

My saving grace was working at the Student Recreation Center during my sophomore year of college. I finally had a community that supported me and fitness goals in a healthy way. They gave me confidence in the gym that I had never experienced before. My friend Allison introduced me to weightlifting, and I fell in love. For once in my life, I felt strong, and not just physically. I finally felt like I was worth more than a number on the scale. I finally understood that food fuels my body, and isn’t something to fear. I prioritized friendships and living my life, rather than dropping numbers on a scale. I finally felt like I was not alone.

I am now 21 years old, and I weigh 178 pounds (not that it matters). I still have a BMI that states I am overweight, but I am happy.

Our thanks for today’s guest post on weight and health go to Emily Robinson, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill studying Economics, Management and Society, and Education. Robinson is Vice President of OCEANS, an organization working to empower young people with obesity through themselves, their community, and society. OCEANS’ founder, Faith Newsome shared her own story here last year.

Emily Robinson and Faith Newsome, photograph © Faith Newsome

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August 22, 2019

4 Responses to “Emily Robinson: Family, College, Health, and Weight”

  1. August 22, 2019 at 8:46 am, Allen Browne said:

    Thank you, Emily. Yours is a great story.


  2. August 22, 2019 at 1:42 pm, Shannon Newsome said:

    Very inspirational! A plight many teens face!

  3. August 22, 2019 at 10:25 pm, Claudia said:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences.
    Where can I get more info about OCEANS? I know many teens in my community who would be very interested in joining.