People ask “what makes Robbyn Ackner different from others?” My answer is always, I’ve walked in your shoes. I understand your struggles, your dashed hopes, the challenges and blockades that you face daily because I’ve been there. So many people will say “I understand” but do they really? How is it possible to understand what someone is going through if you’ve never experienced it? After many years of being stuck, I finally figured out what I needed to do to make the necessary changes in order to succeed and overcome my challenges. So, now I am here to encourage you, to help you figure out what will work in order to move forward and live the life that you have always dreamed of, but were never certain it was possible.
I have lived through great adversity and have personal experience with many of the challenges that others have experienced or are currently struggling with.
I grew up as a chubby child, the fat kid, into an obese teen and then a morbidly obese adult. As a child, I was bullied in school because of my weight along with a multitude of other things. Anything and everything that the other kids (and adults too) could think of and all of it made me feel bad about myself. It didn’t help that I got no support from home, I never learned how to handle the abuse that I received from the outside world and that followed me in my life for a very long time. When my parents divorced and my mother remarried, I was the thrown into a situation with an emotionally and verbally abusive step-father who also tried repeatedly to molest me. My father disappeared, making me feel even more worthless than I already did. I attempted suicide, spent a few weeks in the children’s psychiatric ward of a hospital, and then my mother chose her relationship with my step-father over me and since my father was off in his own world, I was sent to live in a group home. In the group home, I was encouraged to take my GED test, which I did and passed with flying colors. As I was about to age out of the Foster Care/Group Home system when I turned 18, with no place to go, I was given an opportunity to go to college and so I went. Off to Wilberforce University where I hoped it was going to be my chance for a new life, but I was wrong. In fact, it was even worse as I continued to be ostracized and treated as an outcast. After my second semester, I was raped and Campus Police would not take action, telling me that it would be a “he said, she said” situation. As fate would have it, I became pregnant and I moved for the duration to a home for unwed mothers just outside of Lima, Ohio. I couldn’t have an abortion, so I gave the baby up for adoption. It was a difficult pregnancy, and even though I had support from the people were operating the unwed mother home, I still felt very alone. I was glad when it was over, but once again, having no other place to go, I returned to NJ, back to my mother and in to an even more volatile situation with my step-father.
A few years later, I married a man who I later realized that I never loved, but married him because I thought no one else would ever want me. After all, who would, no one else ever had, even my own father and here I was almost tipping the scale at 400lbs and someone wanted to marry me, so I jumped at the chance. When he initially came into my life, I convinced myself that I was in love with him and I take complete responsibility for our marriage failing. To be honest, he never changed…he was the same person when I left, as he was when I married him. I was the one who changed and I wanted more out of my life.
During the course of our 12 year marriage, I grew up, gained a little bit of self worth, lost some weight and gained the strength to leave, knowing that I wanted more out of life. I had developed a little bit of self confidence, yet still struggled with self-esteem and my life long battle with my weight. I’d been on diets my entire life, but when I left him, I joined a weight loss program, and lost 100 lbs. It was my greatest achievement in my weight loss war in my life. I became even more self confident and was beginning to get a little self esteem when I met another man.
I got sucked into his story (turned out to be all lies) and allowed him into my life. Before I knew it I was in an abusive relationship with a man who was verbally, emotionally, mentally and physically abusive. Sadly and to my shame and embarrassment, I gained all of the weight back that I had lost and more. There came a point where I knew that I had to get out and if I didn’t he was going to kill me. It was my birthday in 2004 when he had me locked in my bedroom, berating and abusing me for hours.
This was not my first physically abusive relationship, there was a short period of time when I was a teenager that I became involved with a man twice my age. I met him and at the time he seemed like a hero to me and I thought he’d rescue me from the abuse of my step-father. But his being a hero only lasted for a short period of time. He was an angry man, mad at the world and he would beat me for any reason. If the car didn’t start, if the dog laid on the bed, if he had a bad day at work, he would beat me. He would beat me first, then he would rape me while he told me that he was showing me how much he loved me. When I got the courage to walk away from him, I was so scared that I kept a letter in my wallet for many years which said if I was ever found dead, the police should look for him. I was young, naive and had no idea that this type of abuse was going on behind so many closed doors. This time, over 20 years later, as an adult and with more life skills, I knew better. Not only did I know it wasn’t my fault, despite his constantly telling me that I made him do it, but I knew that his rage was building with every incident escalating, it would soon become uncontrollable. I stayed much longer than I should have, trying to “fix” him, but there came a point where I realized that I couldn’t, so I left him. Now, this wasn’t as easy as just walking out the door, but with the help of a friend, I did leave him.
I picked up everything and moved to Florida, where I started the journey which has brought me to where I am today.
When I moved to Florida and began to get my life together, I had no idea that I would be so successful in my quest to lose weight and change my life. Something inside me never gave up, even though I felt defeated. This time it was different, I could feel it. For the first time in my life, I made myself a priority which is something that I had never done before. As a little girl, a teen and young adult, I just wanted to be accepted and loved and because of that I allowed people to walk all over me, to use me and yes to abuse me. At 354 lbs, I started a weight loss program and this time, I didn’t let anyone or anything get in my way. When I left NJ, not only did I leave the abusive relationship, I left all the negativity that had surrounded me all of my life, not just that relationship, but other relationships as well and I left the negative thoughts behind too. The negative things didn’t just magically go away however, they continued to come my way, but I pushed them aside and remained focused on the positive and focused on my goals. Before I knew it had lost 50 lbs, then 75, then 100! The more weight I lost, the more determined I became and the stronger I became. This was me in July 2004, just weeks before I escaped that abusive relationship.
My abusive step-father, still in my life was still a bully at 65 years old, except I was no longer that little girl who was terrified of him. I’d been through much worse than his abuse and instead, I saw him as a pathetic old man, who needed to make me feel bad about myself in order for him to feel better about himself. Oh he tried, over and over…yet this shift had already happened in me and the harder he tried, the stronger I got and the stronger I became, the harder he tried. It was actually quite satisfying to see him trying so very hard to get to me and failing to do so. I took my power back from him, the power that he stole when I was 15 or 16.
It turns out that my trying “one more time” was going to be the last time that I would start a diet. It’s no longer a diet, it’s my daily life, a journey where I have lost all of the excess weight through proper eating and exercise. I did have reconstruction surgery to have the excess skin removed and I continue to maintain my weight loss. Despite the critics who say that you cannot lose a significant amount of weight without having gastric bypass or lap band or some other weight loss surgery, I have proven that you can. There are also the critics who say only a small percentage of people keep the weight off, I have proven them wrong as well. My attitude has changed from being stuck in that negative place where I was for most of my life, to instead focusing on the positive. It’s not always easy to find the positive, but I do, even if it is “Well, things could have been worse.”
Sure, I could be angry and bitter and there are some people would say that I have every right to be but I say that it is not who I am. My life has taught me compassion and empathy for others. I give back to the community and am taking my life story and using the lessons from it to empower others to change their lives. I believe that all of the things that happened, while they sucked when it was happening, there is nothing that I can do to change the past. However I can use those experiences, the lessons learned to help others find their own inner strength and overcome whatever challenges they are facing in their lives.
I think that by reading this you can see that I am very passionate about empowering others and helping people to find and tap into the strength that they hold within themselves to change their lives. I am very passionate about empowering young people to see that they can overcome the challenges in their lives and that they too have the ability to change their world. For a very long time, I never believed that I had that strength, but I was wrong and the strength to change my life was right there, inside of me, the entire time. I just didn’t believe in it, I didn’t believe in myself. I do now…I know what can be done, I know what is possible and I am here to share it with the world.
I am an active Board Member, Website Chair and past Newsletter Editor with the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches. For 2 years, I was the Web Data Chair for the Junior League of the Palm Beaches, and now I Co-Chair the Advocacy Committee, which is giving me a HUGE opportunity to make a difference in the lives of women and children and to be the voice of those who have no voice. I was on the Inaugural Board of Dress For Success Palm Beaches, and I support the YWCA Women In Power series and since 2010 I have the honor of sitting on the Domestic Violence Advisory Council. Through the Junior League, I volunteer at Vita Nova, a residence for youth who have aged out of the Foster Care system and with Nelle Smith a residence for young girls who are currently in the Foster Care system and with the Juvenile Justice Centers in Riveria Beach, through their GEMS program, (Girls Empowerment Mentoring sessions) with the young girls who are incarcerated.
I talk about the choices they make and how their lives are impacted and I teach them that where they are today, does not have to define who they become tomorrow, or next month or next year. From 2010 through 2014, I was on the Advisory Board for the Arthur R. Marshall Environmental Foundation as a volunteer and supporter. In 2013, I was honored to be the Chair for their annual fundraiser, the River of Grass Gala.
Already working as a motivational and inspirational speaker, I wanted to be able to work one-on-one with people, so in January 2013, I received my certification as a Life Coach. As a Certified Coach, I work with individuals who have challenges in their lives keeping them stuck where they are, or who find themselves unable to move forward from the past.
I work with women to find and develop their strength and bring out the strong, powerful and confident women that I know they can be, but they don’t know it’s in there. In an ironic twist of fate, I also work with men to show them that women are very special and if they want to be worthy enough to be in the company of a woman, then they have to be gentlemen, they have to step up their game a bit and reach the bar that has been raised. I work one-on-one or in a group setting with women’s circles and with the men, I teach them individually, the lessons of manners, etiquette and what a woman wants, how to stand out from a sea of men who to put it bluntly are simply looking for an easy target for sex. I am not male-bashing in any sense of the word, as I know there are plenty of good, quality men out here. Unfortunately, they are overshadowed and lumped into one big category beause of those who are not so good. Kind of like how everyone looks at lawyers and lumps them into one negative category. I know quite a few good lawyers who want nothing but the best for their clients and they do good things in this world of ours.
If I can help you, please reach out to me for additional information and click on the contact button to submit your questions or comments. You may also email me directly by clicking that little round button with the envelope on this page or you may call my hotline at 406-27-COACH
As a speaker, I am available to travel almost anywhere. As a Coach, I am available in person if you’re local to South Florida or there’s always Skype, Facetime, telephone and email. Having been my audience, I have a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of so many women, children and yes, even men.
What makes me different from other Life Coaches? I am my client, I am you, I am that child who was abandoned and taught that they were worthless, I am that woman who has put herself last for so many years and now struggles to put herself first. I am that person who has been on diet after diet and has nearly given up, thinking there is no hope. I am YOU! That is why I stand out from others, they don’t have my background, they don’t have my experiences. I have your experiences and together, we can create an action plan for you to finally succeed in changing your life.
I look forward to hearing from you and working together!