Ken Robbins of Murrayville lifts weights at the gym four days a week, runs a business in Atlanta with more than 70 employees, is a proud father of three and is celebrating 24 years of marriage with the woman he loves.
In his own words, Robbins feels like “a million bucks.”
But, things weren’t always so good.
WEIGHING HIS PROBLEM
Back in 2012, he was more than 100 pounds overweight. The 6-foot-1 businessman felt terrible most of the time. He had trouble participating in activities with his children. And he suffered from constant pain in his right leg — an old injury from a car wreck on Labor Day in 2006 — which was strained and intensified by his body weight.
Robbins’ weight had been a problem for him for more than two decades. In 1993, he gave up meat. Soon after that he gave up alcohol.
“I quit eating meat 23 years ago and gained 100 pounds over 19 years,” Robbins said. “That was just a spiritual observation.”
When that didn’t work, he went vegan, eliminating dairy and eggs from his diet.
But, he kept gaining weight. Having reached 326 pounds in 2012, Robbins said “enough.”
Through weightlifting and a whole lot of self-discipline, he’s dropped all the excess weight. Currently 205 pounds, Robbins said he has accomplished all that he has through “calorie management and head games.”
When he reached his heaviest in 2012, Robbins was making up for the lack of meat and dairy products in his diet by eating large amounts of carbs.
“It was nothing for me to go to Waffle House at 6 a.m. and have four orders of hash browns — something like 1,600 calories, and when I got home at night I’d have pasta for dinner or spaghetti and broccoli or no-cheese pizza,” Robbins said.
Not only were the carbs killing his progress, his health seemed to be getting worse.
Then, one day in 2013 an employee of his at Response Mine Interactive — an Atlanta digital marketing services firm — mentioned how excited she was about CrossFit.
“She told me she’d just done her very first pull-up,” Robbins said. “After she left, I said to myself, ‘You know, I’d like to be able to do a pull- up again one day.’”
Without telling anyone, he attended a two-week CrossFit boot camp in Buckhead and lost 15 pounds “right off the bat.”
As an added bonus, Robbins said, his leg was no longer in pain.
“It was an incredible,” he said, about not having pain in his leg.
A “Biggest Loser” contest at his workplace shortly after that led to him losing 35 more pounds, for a total of nearly 50 pounds in four months. In order to do it, he cut four main carbohydrates from his diet – rice, potatoes, flours and sugar.
“I said to myself, ‘Man, this is great.’ I didn’t ever want to go back,” Robbins said.
Since then, he’s continued to lose weight by finding new ways to motivate himself.
That’s his nature, said Amanda Sparks, a business development manager at Response Mine Interactive who’s worked with Robbins more than four years.
“When he takes on goals, Ken’s enthusiasm is very infectious,” Sparks said. “He is the most disciplined person I’ve ever met, and when he sets his mind to something he always follows through with it.
“Ken never quits.”
Robbins maintains it’s just a matter of making a good plan and sticking with it.
“Everybody has a different method for losing weight, but no matter what you’re doing you have to fight through not being motivated,” he said.
Robbins method, he said, has been mostly about “fork management.”
He eats what he calls high-volume foods that will fill him up. Usually, that means salads, fruits and juices.
“It’s nothing for me to be walking around the office, sitting down at a meeting at 10:30 in the morning with a mixing bowl of salad in front of me,” he said, adding about half of his total diet is raw foods.
SLIPS AND SUPPORT
He admits, though, to having a weakness for popcorn and tortilla chips.
“When I go to a movie, it’s the hardest thing in the world to hold back on popcorn … tortilla chips are my kryptonite,” he said. “Going to a Mexican restaurant is usually where I blow it because I’ll tear into two baskets of chips.”
But slip-ups like those have been the exception rather than the rule. Since restricting his diet and lifting weights, he’s gone from a 52-inch waist to a 36-inch waist.
Beyond the weightlifting, he tried boxing for six months.
In February 2015, he began watching videos on how to throw different types of punches. He bought a heavy bag, spending 15 minutes per day on it three days a week. Robbins enrolled in lessons and got his USA Boxing license, scheduling his first fight for Nov. 17. His mother died on the day of the fight, causing him to cancel.
He has since quit boxing, but through that, weightlifting and “fork management,” over the past three years, Robbins has discovered a richer life.
His wife, Liz Robbins, said she was “pretty amazed because he was so driven … he just got the bug and was set to lose it all. He did what needed to be done.”
Liz said she’s helped her husband by cooking various vegan meals and “supporting him in what he was doing.”
She added the husband she knows now is different than the one from three years ago.
“Ken three years ago used to sit on the couch all the time and watch TV,” she said. “Now, he can’t sit still. He’s constantly doing yard work or playing with the kids.”
Robbins attests to that.
“I have as much or more energy than my kids do,” he said. “I can keep up with them now. We have a blast. And, honestly, that’s the greatest, most gratifying reward.”