Overcoming Long Odds Along the Weight Loss Journey

Weight Management

Patient overcomes long odds in weight loss journey.

When meeting Robin El-Ibrahim for the first time, one would never guess the long road she’s traveled to become a weight management success story. Robin topped out at 399 pounds and she entered an eating disorder program in early 2010. She dropped 150 pounds in four months. But her struggles weren’t done. She yo-yoed up and down until starting with the CentraCare Weight Management Program in 2013.

Outfitted in trim workout clothing and moving through some weight training exercises at a local gym, it’s hard to imagine a woman who once topped the scales at 400 pounds.

Robin’s “day job” is serving as an operations analyst for the Department of Employment and Economic Development office in east St. Cloud but her true passion is body building. Recently certified as a personal trainer, Robin works several shifts a week as a personal trainer, assisting clients with their workouts and training.

Arriving at this happy point in her life hasn’t been easy for Robin. At age 53, she’s experienced more than her share of loss and trauma. Childhood bullying, divorce, a short
period of homelessness, the temporary loss of her children and the deaths of both of her parents have all been contributing factors in Robin’s struggle with weight loss and eating disorders. It began in childhood

The struggles began when she was eight years old. “My German mom loved baking and cooking. I was always chubby and the neighbor kid asked ‘Why are you so fat? ‘Why are you so stupid?’” Those biting words took their toll and Robin struggled with anorexia, bulimia and food addiction for years.

“I still battle it every day, I still see the old me in the mirror,” Robin states matter-of-factly. “But now I have the tools in place for my brain to better understand my eating disorders.”

"The day of my weight loss surgery changed my life. With the support of the staff, I got the tools I needed to help me focus, and everything began to fall into place." -Robin El-Ibrahim

Life-changing events

“I had been unhappy since my dad died in 1993 and then when my mom died in 2009, my anorexia eating disorder kicked into gear full-force. I started going to the gym and over-exercising on cardio,” Robin explains.

Her recorded weight topped out at 399 and she entered an eating disorder program in early 2010. She dropped 150 pounds in four months. But her struggles weren’t done. She yo-yoed up and down and tried out many gyms in the area.

Fast forward to June 2013 and Robin entered the CentraCare Weight Management program and began to meet with a team of professionals to get her weight under control and life back on track. She dropped from 335 pounds to 298 pounds in six months.

With a master’s degree, Robin enjoys research and reviewed her options for weight loss surgery. She felt the adjustable lap band would work best for her situation.

On Jan. 21, 2014, she underwent the surgery at St. Cloud Hospital. “It was the day that changed my life,” she says. “With the support of the staff, I got the tools I needed to help me focus and everything began to fall into place.” Today her weight hovers in the mid-170s.

Her 19-year-old son, Alyx, manages a vitamin store and was instrumental in getting Robin started with bodybuilding in 2015. She knows she has to eat to fuel her body and she carefully tracks her “macros” (protein, carbs and fats) through an app on her phone. With the CentraCare Weight Management Program, Robin lost more than 35 pounds in six months. Along with surgery for an adjustable lap band, her weight now hovers in the mid-170. Robin is now an active bodybuilder and works as a personal trainer.

She’s built a lot of muscle which she can now see when she looks in the mirror. But she’s not done. Having suffered from fibromyalgia, arthritis and pancreatitis, Robin knows what it’s like to try to work out when in pain or discomfort. She’s now pursuing an added specialty: corrective exercise certification so she can work with those experiencing significant health issues.

Her advice to others trying to lose weight?

  • Eat whole foods (she doesn’t believe in strict diets)
  • Prep meals ahead of time (she spends time each Sunday mapping out her week)
  • Don’t deprive yourself (everything in moderation)
  • Determine a goal you want to achieve

And what’s Robin’s goal? “Bigger biceps!,” she says with a grin.