Northsider featured in documentary

In the spring of 2012, at the weight of 296 pounds, Northsider Erica Robinson threw away her scale. She couldn’t bear to see her weight surpass 300 pounds, a milestone which, at the time, seemed inevitable. Now, seven years later, she has been featured in Follow Me, a Canadian documentary that chronicles the stories of 16 people who have sustained significant, long-term weight loss.

Robinson, a brand manager at the Jackson-based creative firm Maris, West & Baker (MWB), had tried different diets over the years, but the result was always the same. She would lose weight only to ultimately gain it back and then see the numbers on her scale rise even more.

The turning point for Robinson came after a close friend, her dieting partner, passed away following a routine surgery. Her friend’s unexpected death, and the fact that the friend’s weight had been a complicating factor, led Robinson to a period of self-reflection about her own health. “I was finally ready to acknowledge that my lifelong love affair with sweets was an addiction,” said Robinson. “It gave me the push I needed to commit to better health through, not just a new diet, but a total lifestyle change. I saw it as a way to honor the memory of my friend.”

Ultimately, Robinson lost 120 pounds and has kept it off for more than seven years, an accomplishment which attracted the attention of Follow Me producer, Tony Vassallo, a man who had, himself, achieved longterm weight loss after many years of obesity. “Tony connected with me through a mutual friend, Dr. Vera Tarman, the author of “Food Junkies” and organizer of a weekly online support group that I had joined,” said Robinson.

The Follow Me production team came down to Jackson to record Robinson’s interview in late 2016. “Erica’s reflections on her journey were key to a segment in the documentary on coping mechanisms. said Vassallo. “Erica’s story helped me grasp the concept of ‘food serenity,’ a tool for those who struggle with weight management and food addiction to successfully crowd out the ‘noise’ of food in their daily lives.

“One of the keys to Robinson’s weight loss is her trusty scale, though not the same kind of scale she tossed out in 2012. She weighs her food at every meal, without fail, to keep close tabs on the amount and type of foods she eats. Desserts are strictly off limits. It’s a practice she intends to maintain for the rest of her life. “I take a small food scale with me and weigh my food, even at restaurants,” said Robinson. “I’ve found that restaurants are typically very accommodating with portion size modifications and other requests like additional vegetables. For me, it’s become just part of daily life.”

Follow Me premiered at Hot Docs Toronto Cinema in November, 2019, and Robinson was invited to attend. The film was also selected for the Windsor (Canada) International Film Festival (WIFF) and will be shown at other festivals in upcoming months. “It has been such a truly amazing experience, and I am so honored to have been part of it,” said Robinson. “My hope is that people who see the documentary – especially people here in Mississippi, a state where so many people struggle with obesity – will be encouraged by my story and inspired to start their own journey to better health.”

To learn more about Follow Me and watch the film’s trailer, visit followmefilm.ca.

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