Robyn Koolen's transformation began in 2010, when she weighed 197 pounds, but there was more to it than the number on the scale. An overall feeling of discomfort had left Robyn wanting—and needing—change.
"I didn't like what I saw when I woke up in the morning," she says. "I wasn't the person I wanted to be." For the girl from a small town in Canada, it wasn't an unfamiliar feeling. Despite her athletic upbringing as a skater, she'd always felt bigger. "I had an athletic build, but girls are taught that they should be small," she says. "I was fit, but not small."
When she moved to Calgary for college, fitness took a backseat to partying. Occasional trips to the gym once every few weeks weren't enough to combat the weight gain that came from partying. Drinking and overeating coupled with cycles of crash dieting and food restriction caused Robyn's weight to increase. In 2010, she found herself on the cusp of 200 pounds. That shook her enough to start making changes.
Robyn's transformation started out small. She replaced chips with pickle spears and roasted chickpeas, started walking the 3.5 kilometers to and from work, and moved more in general. The hard work paid off, and Robyn lost 50 pounds. She was closer to her goal and happy with how she looked, but she still needed extra motivation to drop the last bit of weight. That's where Bodybuilding.com's 100K Transformation Challenge came in.
What started out as a quest for the extra motivation and accountability needed to lose those last 10-15 pounds became so much more. Chipping away at the Arnold Blueprint trainer, learning the basics of nutrition, and striving to see change in progress photos all helped Robyn push forward in the right direction.
Twelve weeks later, Robyn had lost 15 pounds and 6 percent body fat. She was more than a leaner, six-pack-sporting version of her former self, though—she was finally the athlete she'd known she was destined to be.
Q. How Has Winning The 100K Challenge Affected You?
My activities have stayed pretty much the same—I still hike the mountains, compete in obstacle-course races, and seek outdoor adventure—but the attitude with which I do things is different. Winning has given me the confidence to put myself out there, even when I don't think I stand a chance. Heading into the transformation, I had no expectations of winning. After I won, I realized that, even if you don't think you'll come out on top, the only person you hurt if you don't try is you.
What Did You Do With The Prize Money?
I upgraded my old hand-me-down computer, got some new clothes, paid off debt, put some money toward my mortgage, donated to charity, and placed the rest in savings-and-investment funds.
Did You Relax Your Diet After You Completed The Competition?
After the challenge, I still ate clean, but I allowed more flexibility into my diet. The challenge was a great motivator to break through the plateau I'd been stuck at for a year, but my transformation is part of an ongoing journey.
After the challenge, it was easier to find a balance with my social life. A lot of that came from knowing more about nutrition, which made it easier to make healthy decisions when going out. I still enjoy a juicy burger on occasion, but I now plan "cheat meals" around social situations rather than making them an everyday thing. This way, they're a treat.
What Impact Did Your Win Have On Your Family And Friends?
Since the win, a lot of people come to me for advice on nutrition and training. I'm so proud of my friends and family! There have been quite a few who have now embraced a healthier way of life and lost weight by eating better, being active, and staying patient.
What Are Your Future Goals And Plans?
Currently, I'm one exam away from being a certified personal trainer. I want to help others do what I have done—become a stronger, better version of myself. I'm also prepping for my first fitness show in late spring.
After completing the challenge, I slowly found my workouts lacking intensity, so I decided to change my goals. Instead of focusing on strength, which I did during the challenge, I now focus to training for aesthetics and competition.
How Has Being In The Bodybuilding.com Spotlight Affected You?
I've felt more pressure, but in a good way. As much as hearing how much I've inspire others motivates me, it also gives me the drive to continue living a fit lifestyle so that I don't let anyone down.