Some people when they hear COVID-19 think of a death sentence, but the deadly virus may have actually saved Jeremy Robbins’ life in an indirect way. Since the outbreak began, he has lost 70 pounds.
He calls it a “corona triumph.”
In the beginning when the coronavirus began in Mississippi, Robbins went home knowing he met most of the criteria of being most susceptible, including being overweight and having diabetes and hypertension at just 44.
“I was literally motivated by fear,” said Robbins, who is an artist and works at the Artwistic studio downtown.
At his heaviest, he was 397 pounds in September 2018, and although he lost weight after that, he eventually gained all but 30 pounds back.
Overall since he stepped on the scale in 2018, he has now lost more than 100 pounds.
His diet once consisted of Domino’s, Popeye’s and Sonic. But after eating everything he had in his house for the first two weeks of quarantine, he began to grocery shop online. He downloaded the Walmart app and from there he began to start reading the nutritional labels, something he would have never taken the time to do in the store.
“When you are in the store, of course you would like to read, but it is not a library and you are pushing a buggy,” Robbins said.
He began to become disciplined in his choices for food, and he quit eating out altogether. He also refused to eat at his parents’ house because while the food choices were not bad, he knew the food would be great and he would not be able to eat in moderation.
One of the biggest things Robbins discovered is how his body is thriving with having the proper nutrition and not a bunch of empty calories. He started to lose the weight immediately. He said it is becoming more challenging now because it was easy to cut back to 2,500 calories a day because that is a lot of food, but now he is at the point where 2,200 calories maintains his current weight.
He said it takes a lot of work to prepare healthy meals, including buying fresh fruits and vegetables and washing and sorting everything. He cleaned off a shelf in his refrigerator and made a salad bar on it with everything washed and cut so he can quickly make a salad each day for lunch. He loves salads but hated all the prep work.
He has been amazed at how he has not had issues with feeling hungry once he began eating the right foods.
Right now he is getting no liquid calories, just drinking water with lemon, green tea and hot tea.
One thing Robbins has been doing is not making himself eat foods he knows he doesn’t like. He is focusing on the foods he does like to eat and that has been a big plus. In fact, he is enjoying the foods that he eats.
Robbins was really into fashion, having worked at The Gap clothing stores in San Francisco, New Orleans and Hattiesburg. Once he got to a certain size, he realized it wasn’t so much about fashion as it was to finding something that fit. He said it is miserable when you have to wear something that is ill-fitted. Men’s big and tall clothes are also more expensive.
“To be able to wear clothes that I have gotten too big for and now I can wear them and some of them are too big. A big ‘oh my God’ moment,” he said.
He also cherishes the small victories too, such as moving another notch on his belt.
Robbins has several goals, including not wanting to revert back to his previous way of eating.
He also wants a new hip. When he was a child, he contracted an infection that ate away the ball section in his left hip. In fact, the C-P featured a story of his struggle on Feb. 4, 1988. He wants to become healthy enough not only for the surgery but also for all of the therapy that will come thereafter. It will be the first time he has had two good hips since he was 11-years-old.
He is looking forward to being able to fly and only be able to take up one seat. One of his dream places is Croatia, which he calls the "Dirt Cheap version of Greece.”
He has received a lot of support from his friends and family. He is looking forward to being able to spend more time with his family now that he is getting healthier each day.
Robbins said he is very sympathetic to parents running a household with children having different tastes. For him it has been easier because he lives alone. He also talks about the expense healthy food is compared to unhealthy food.
One thing is for certain: Robbins isn’t worried about having the perfect body; for him it’s all about being healthy. He has been enjoying the benefit of better health, including with his hypertension and diabetes.
Among the most surprising aspects that get him are the things he doesn’t notice anymore.
“It’s been amazing; I don’t notice if my knee is hurting or any aches and pains. While I may not feel like a million dollars, I love what I am no longer noticing,” he said.
All and all Robbins said he is happy. The experience has made him stronger physically, mentally and more disciplined.
“It feels strange to say it, but I’m happy," he said.