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."
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