Category: Health Written by CNN
by Stephanie Goldberg
(CNN) -- Deidre Robinson's cheeks flushed as two ride attendants tried to push her safety guard into the lock position.
At 310 pounds, Robinson knew she'd have restrictions at the theme park, but that didn't make her feel any less humiliated when she was told she couldn't ride the roller coaster with her daughter.
"There was a big guy next to me and his snapped," she said. "I thought, 'There's something wrong with that.' Obviously I was a lot bigger than he was."
The 2007 event was one of several turning points for Robinson, now 31, who was eventually inspired to join Weight Watchers and start doing Zumba, a Latin-inspired dance fitness class, in February 2009.
Less than two years later, the South Carolina native had dropped more than half her body weight -- going from a size 24 to a size 2 -- and was ready turn her healthy lifestyle into her livelihood.
"My mom always called me thick," Robinson said. "Back in the fourth grade, I remember my mom measuring my cereal ... three-fourths a cup of Cheerios."
Nobody in her family had ever battled weight problems, she said. They couldn't understand why she gained weight while eating the same things as her sister, who "to this day is just genetically thin."
By high school, she had tried just about every diet out there: from eating only chicken and rice every day for a month to "the no-carb thing."
The quick results were nice, she said, but nothing ever stuck.
Things didn't get any easier after graduation. Robinson's parents and sister, who she said she's very close with, tricked her into attending a weight intervention under the false pretense of discussing a bill.
She showed up with her boyfriend at the time, who wasn't overweight.
A few years ago, they tried again, giving Robinson a gym membership for Christmas.
"For my family to come at me like that ... they didn't intentionally try to hurt my feelings, but they were trying to wake me up," Robinson said. "They didn't know what it was like. They never had weight problems. They ate the same food (as me). They're the ones who took me to the restaurants."
Robinson said her family's well-meaning gestures did nothing to motivate her to lose weight. Rather, they made her defensive and caused tension.
Robinson's dad wasn't overtly hard on her, but she could tell he was disappointed -- "like he thought I let myself go," she said, which might have been unfair considering he had his own vice.
Just as Robinson considered eating a habit that she had little control over, her dad had smoked cigarettes since he was 20. He died at 45 in 2004 from coronary artery disease, five years before Robinson lost the weight.
"The one thing I hate the most is that my dad never got to see (me thin)," she said. "I know how proud he'd be that I got that weight off. He was always so proud of me for my job accomplishments, but he could never understand why I couldn't get that part right."
The tipping point
From what she could wear and drive to where she would sit at restaurants, Robinson's size dictated many aspects of her daily life.
"I didn't have one pair of shoes that had laces," she said. "It put me out of breath to tie them. ... I would go into a restaurant already determining in my head whether I'd need a table or booth. I couldn't drive a sports car. I literally couldn't fit behind the wheel."
And the theme park incident is just one bad memory of a too-snug safety belt.
Robinson hadn't been on an airplane in about five years when she jetted off to Miami for a work trip with her husband in 2005. She cringed as a flight attendant yelled out for someone to bring a seat belt extension over.
"In that situation, you almost feel like ... yes, you are a human being, but not only do you not fit into society because you look different and you stand out, but you literally do not fit," she said. "I wouldn't even go to a concert because the seats (were) too small. You don't want to put yourself in those situations because they're so embarrassing."
Robinson said her daughter McKenzie, who turns 10 in November, is the main reason she ultimately decided to get fit.
Up until McKenzie was 6, Robinson hadn't been in a pool with her because she didn't feel comfortable in a bathing suit. "She started asking me, 'Mom, why are you not swimming with me?' "
And as parents slid down the giant slide at the carnival with their children, Robinson waited for her daughter at the bottom.
"Why won't you go down with me?" McKenzie would ask her mom.
"I felt like I was missing out," Robinson said. "I was there. I would take her to the events, but I couldn't participate. I'm at all the events, but I'm in none of the pictures."
Thanks to Weight Watchers and Zumba DVDs, the weight started to fall off, Robinson said.
After losing 30 pounds and gaining confidence, she began taking Zumba classes at a gym. She started going a few times a week and loved it so much she continued to go every day. More than 150 pounds later, Robinson decided to open her own fitness studio in Greenville, South Carolina.
Within two months of opening Fitness Shakers in May 2011, Robinson said she quickly lost another 15 pounds -- bringing her total weight loss to 170 pounds in two years -- just from being the only instructor at the time.
"It's amazing to think I used to have these huge round chubby thick arms and now I've got this muscle definition," she said. "Pounds don't even bother me anymore. Now it's body fat percentage."
Her studio, as well as her story, now helps inspire others to be active and healthy, if the testimonials on her website are any indication: "I could never thank Dee Dee Robinson and her team enough for all they have done for me through Fitness Shakers," Jessie E. writes. "I immediately felt love, support, and acceptance walking into my first class."
"They trust me because they know where I've been," Robinson said of the members at her gym. "They know I can relate."
She now has a staff of 10 and a second location in Taylor, South Carolina, which opened in November 2011.
"I work out every day of my life," Robinson said, who also credits her fit physique to knowing what foods to eat. Salmon is one of her favorites because it's filling, yet low on the Weight Watchers' PointsPlus system.
"Do I have my one cheat day a week? Yeah," she said. "Is one cheeseburger going to make me gain weight? No."
Robinson has also noticed some other positive changes in her life since losing the weight. In addition to strengthening the bond she has with herself -- gaining confidence and happiness -- she said her relationship with her family has flourished.
"They say, 'We finally got out Dee back. Her personality is back. She's her bubbly normal self,' " Robinson said. "We're definitely closer."
She said she used to remove herself from situations, such as family cookouts, because she wasn't comfortable with her size, but now she's a lot more involved.
"I did it for me," Robinson said of losing the weight. "But maybe this whole weight loss process wasn't just for me. Never did I think I could inspire others. ... I get more gratitude from that than just knowing what I've done for myself."
Have you lost weight? Share your story on iReport.
Last Updated on Sunday, 05 May 2013 18:41
Category: Health Written by CNN
ALICIA KEYS (WHITE HOUSE POOL PHOTO)
by Saundra Young
(CNN) -- You know her best as a multi-platinum recording artist and a 14-time Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and producer.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 18:08
Category: Health Written by CNN
In an ischemic stroke, a blockage in a blood vessel stops essential oxygen and nutrients from reaching the brain. (Photo/American Stroke Association)
by Caleb Hellerman
(CNN) -- Despite public outreach campaigns, a third of all stroke patients don't call an ambulance to get them to the hospital, leaving them vulnerable to delayed treatment and worse outcomes, according to a new study published in the journal Circulation.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 15:52
Category: Health Written by Associated Press
HOSPITALIZED--Dejah Reed, an Ypsilanti, Mich., teen was hospitalized for a collapsed lung after trying the cinnamon challenge. (AP Photo/Frederick Reed)
by Linsey Tanner
AP Medical Writer
The fad involves daring someone to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. But the spice is caustic, and trying to gulp it down can cause choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs, the report said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 09:54
Category: Health Written by Courier Newsroom
Dara Mendez, PhD
Where you live affects your health. Neighborhood environments are important for understanding racial health disparities, especially during pregnancy and birth. Neighborhood environments differ by race and ethnicity in the U.S. For example, harmful air toxins and lead-based paint are more likely to be located in communities of color. Qualities that promote health, like grocery stores and parks, are more likely to be located in White communities. This difference is due to zoning policies and business practices. But many studies don’t ask community members how they think their neighborhood influences their health.
Recently, researchers from the University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health worked with The Birth Circle. The Birth Circle is a community-based doula program. Community-based doulas are women who received specialized training but who are no health care professionals. They provide pregnancy services, like labor and delivery support. They also educate mothers about childbirth and nutrition. If a mom is having trouble breastfeeding, they offer support and help. The researchers asked mothers and doulas to talk about their views of neighborhood factors and health during pregnancy and birth.
The doulas and mothers talked about a wide range of neighborhood-related issues that they felt were important for pregnancy and birth. These included good, affordable housing; jobs; grocery stores; parks and access to high quality health care services. The group felt the most important issue was services related to health.
The group also talked about the relationships between affordable, fun activities in their neighborhood and how they relate to safety. Challenges were also shared about public housing environments for mothers and children. Transportation was thought to be very important to access health care resources. Mothers noted recent public transportation changes that affect how they’re able to access health care and other services.
“Cost of transportation is one thing,” one mother said. “But, it goes beyond that. Is there actually a bus that goes past your house? In certain neighborhoods, entire bus routes have been cut.”
The results from this study can be applied in future research. They can also be used for support in making connections between policies and better community programs in housing, transportation, urban development and health.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 10:50
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