Category Archives: Staff Diaries

Introducing Ashley!

Here at Double Take Debate, we pride ourselves in providing the best information from the people who know best, we have searched globally for people who can provide fitness advice for our DTD audience and have visible proof of amazing results. We hope that these ordinary people who have made their lives extraordinary with sheer determination and passion will encourage you to strive towards your goals…

All the way from sunny Los Angeles, CA, we have Ashley Joy who will be contributing her fitness advice and motivation regularly for you all. She shares her story with us:

“My name is Ashley Robinson but I am often nick named “AshRock, AshleyJoy, or Baby Hulk”, I’m from a small town called Apple Valley in CA and the youngest of 6 children.  I doubled majored in Psychology and Communication Studies at University of Rhode Island. I love sports; softball, tennis, soccer, gymnastics, weightlifting, track and field…I was the captain of New England Champion 4×400 M relay and I am the senior record holder of 200M…

I’ve always been in love with sports the idea of a team the challenge it gives you and always having an opportunity to achieve a goal. Being a leader, team player and being able to escape mentally into another world.  I started running track at the age of 13 because I was cut from my middle school soccer team it was my first experience of “politics” in sports. I said to myself I will show them I am someone. 5 years later I earned a full ride scholarship to the University of Rhode Island  and it was my aim to get away from California and experience life .   College sports is not what I thought it was going to be. It required more dedication than I thought. I learned the passion for being and striving to be the best physically fit possible. My freshman year was great; ran well, good grades and lived life. But I was not aware of what was coming for the next 2 1/2 years. The summer of 2006 I became depressed and on medication by the fall. Depression was the darkest and worst pain I have ever felt. It was uncharacteristic felt no passion, always fatigued, no appetite crying spells and a lack of interest in all the things I once loved. My friends did not understand and my family supported me from a distance. I was in therapy from my  sophomore year until the day after I graduated from college.  I wanted to leave college I wanted to be able to laugh again I wanted to run with confidence. Most of my college years I fought through depression which tested class practice, relationships and my friendship with teammates
Etc. The summer of 08 I traveled to Spain for a month and did self searching and living, I decided I wanted to be happy again and was not going to let anything get in the way. The day I graduated I looked back at all I had over come and seeing my family in the audience I knew it was all worth it and my story will make sense later in life.

After-college life was not as bright as the SoCal sun. The first year after graduation my parents divorced my dad lost his job and I was searching for a place to belong. I trained for a fitness competition but was side swiped by my dad loosing his job and needing to find a job to support myself. But the feeling of passion dedication and striving to be the in the best physical shape came rushing back to me! Another 2 years went by, working and getting back into school, dating hardship and barely stepping foot into the gym. I found myself drinking more, going out, eating terribly and working nonstop – just unhappy. The summer of 2012 I met a guy named Brian at the Santa Monica stairs and he introduced me to Herbalife and other health coaches. There was this sense of team and passion I was immediately introduced to. I felt I could get back into shape and change my life around. I started attending bible study Wednesday nights working on my faith and becoming the woman I desired to be and was envious of others who were already there. I started tracking my spiritual growth and fitness progress on Instagram and my story touched others; people could relate and I found my passion once again. I train and am a health coach to people who seek my help. I plan on always helping and inspiring others to get back their happiness!”

Introducing Jessica!

We are excited to introduce to you another fitness expert who is a part of the DTD family, her inspirational, moving and motivational story is sure to get you looking for your nearest gym. We have sourced real people, with real stories who have tried it all to eventually get great results and in doing so, would like to share with you what worked best for them. So all the way from the USA, we introduce to you, Jessica Smith…

“My name is Jessica Smith and I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Born to a teenage mother, we had a very strict budget and nutrition was not a main concern. I grew up on frank and beans and butter sandwiches. That’s right, not peanut butter and jelly but just straight up BUTTER. I never thought twice about what I put in my mouth and my favorite things to eat were quesadillas and ice cream. Aside from my mother, I was the only girl in a house of men so I’ve been a tomboy pretty much my whole life. I never participated in sports but I loved video games and riding bikes. I had always been fairly thin but all that changed when I hit 18 and my metabolism came to a screeching halt.

I moved out to attend college for a semester and ended up experiencing the dreaded “Freshmen 15.” I lived off of potatoes and top ramen for half a year, gained a bunch of weight, developed psoriasis and horrible acne. My acne was so bad that I had to see a dermatologist once a week to get shots in my face (oww). I ended up moving back home and met my future husband. This was great for my love life but horrible for my relationship with food. My husband and I both love food and video games. When we first met, we ate out several times a day, everyday. Often times, we would pick up restaurant food and park in front of the TV for hours. At one point, we would plan out our fat adventures far in advance. We would go to sleep around 6-7pm specifically to wake up at 3am and eat at Carrows. Then we would go right back to sleep. These were just our weekday shenanigans. On the weekends, I would binge drink to the point of belligerency. I was normally the person being dared to do something really stupid and thus “Jess the mess” was born. Aside from my horrible eating habits, I wasn’t very active. I have always loved being outdoors and participating in various activities but I never did this on a regular basis.

Around 2005, I decided I was going to change. I joined Ballys and hired a personal trainer but I didn’t commit to a nutrition plan. I’m not sure why I thought I could lose weight when I religiously ate crumb donuts, Starbucks, guacamole chips, and snickers on a daily basis. Oh yeah, I would lose weight because I pounded Hydroxycut pills.  I ended up gaining even more weight and I looked very solid, like a pit-bull. I was also tired all of the time and jittery because of the Hydroxycut. In 2007, I tore the meniscus in my right knee while playing airsoft. I didn’t have the money to pay for surgery so I avoided jumping and running for several years. A couple of years later my knee buckled and caused me to fall down the stairs. I may or may not have also been drunk at the time.  A knee surgery and several months of physical therapy later, my knee felt like it would never be the same. People told me it would never be the same and I thought they were right. My injury caused me to pack on even more weight. By this time, I was depressed and I hated the way I looked. My husband had also gained 30lbs and we both decided it was time to make a change. In our ignorance, we ended up doing a crash diet. We ate nothing but small amounts of lean meat and veggies. We ended up losing a massive amount of weight and we looked sick. I dropped 30lbs and ended up weighing around 98lbs. With all of that weightloss, I STILL hated the way I looked. I was 98lbs with a gut and no curves. We went through a vicious cycle of starving ourselves and binge eating for several months. I tried to find balance in my diet but didn’t do any research. I ended up eating pseudo healthy food and maintained my unhealthy weight loss. I also picked up yoga and playing tennis.

In 2009, my world spiraled out of control when I received the devastating news of my little brother’s passing. Heartbroken, I turned to alcohol and food. I started binge drinking daily and could careless about nutrition. I was depressed and angry all the time. I am not a person who easily shares my emotions so a lot of people didn’t know what I was going through. My husband was there for me and made it clear that I was headed down a dangerous path. For next couple of years I continued my failed attempts at fitness. In 2011 I became a “cardio queen.” I did about 10 Zumba classes or more a week and sometimes did cardio for hours at a time. When I decided to incorporate weight training, I would seriously walk around the gym aimlessly and choose random machines. While I was on the machine, I picked a very light weight and would sometimes even Facebook while lifting weights.         

In Nov 2011, I got a call from the producers of the show “Wipeout” saying they wanted to interview me from an application I filled out years prior. The possibility of being on the show gave me a new motivational purpose and made me see working out in a different light. I didn’t want to look like a fool on TV so I decided to focus on my agility, strength, balance, and endurance. I had always been a fan of the show “Ninja Warrior,” and “Wipeout” was kind of like that so I was super excited. I joined Instagram shortly after that and saw all of the amazing people who are into fitness. I started doing research and months into my endeavor, I didn’t even care about the show anymore. I started weightlifting (for real this time) and tracked my workouts. In Aug 2012, I became very serious about my training. This is when I’d say I became obsessed with fitness. From August 2012 to about November 2012, I went from having a muffin top to having a 6 pack. I worked on building strong leg muscles to support my knee. I stopped paying attention to how much weight I’d lost. This also motivated me to start eating clean and caused me to have a different relationship with food. I never ended up on the show “Wipeout” but I’ve gained so much more. I now have a happy healthy body free of aches and pains.

I’ve been overweight and I’ve been underweight. I’ve tried every fitness craze from cardio belly dancing to ballet booty workouts. What I love about fitness is that it’s for everyone! It doesn’t matter where you’re from, who you were yesterday, or who you are today. It is never too late to become the person you want to become. I’d be happy if my story motivates even one person to make a change for the better. I can truly say that fitness changed my life for the better. I’m happier with whom I am and everyday I have a sense of accomplishment. Currently, I’m training for my first NPC Bikini Competition and I’m helping people on Instagram daily with health and fitness questions. I would have never dreamed I’d feel comfortable in a bikini, let alone compete in a bikini competition. I’ve had adversities but I finally learned to use them to propel me forward. I’ll leave you guys with my favorite quote;

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?……And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Jessica is a regular Instagram user and below are some shots of her pictures that have inspired hundreds of people:


The story of the 19 Stone man [120kg or 266.0lbs]

The story of the 19 stone kid [120kg or 266.0 pounds]

So here it is, my story. Now I decided to write this in hope that maybe it can help someone [even if its just one person] to turn their life around and know that its never to late. Even if I only inspire a small handful it will feel all worth while.
Growing up I wasn’t the most active of kids and I hated running. However, I did play basketball until the age of 16. Apart from that, my physical activities were next to zero. I started smoking at the tender age of 13, which then led to drinking and smoking weed at 14. Whether this was to do with my parents divorce or simply the company I kept is neither here nor there. However, at this time I was slightly chubby but still a respectable size. It wasn’t until I turned 16 and went to college that it all started to go downhill.
During my college years, my motivation for learning and sports dropped to a new low. I never attended class and spent my entire two years at the pub [bar] from 11:00am till 18:00-22:00. If I wasn’t there I’d be off somewhere smoking weed. Along with the copious amounts of beer I drunk, the mandatory fast food came quickly along with it [a steady daily diet of fried pub food, McDonalds and KFC]. During these two years, I soon ballooned from 15stones [95.25kg] to 19 stones [120kg]. The weight of course had managed to sneak itself on and I simply hadn’t noticed or didn’t care. Mentally I was depressed and fed up, using drink as a crutch to help forget just how sh*t I truly felt. However, like most of us who have been overweight, I’d convinced myself I was happy and my size really wasn’t an issue. Of course it did effect my life. I was now drinking to be ‘accepted’ [at least in my head, looking back] as I could out drink most people with ease, including adults so I’d always play up to this. Of course with the weight came low self confidence, which would also attribute to my behavior. Not only that but it destroyed any real chance I had of having much of a sex life, instead I usually ended playing the role of the ‘safe friend’. I mean, who wants to end up with the fat, smoking, drinking ginger bloke with no confidence? Welcome to my 17yr old thought process.
This began to change though shortly after I left college. I was at my uncles house attending a family wedding, when I decided to step on the scales. I was horrified to find 19 stones [120kg] staring back at me. We had no scales at home at the time, so I had no real idea of just how big I’d gotten. Looking back, you would think the stretch marks would have been some indication to me, but like all the other signs I’d simply chosen to ignore them. With this I dropped my weight down to 17stone over the course of a year, no real achievement really as I continued to drink and smoke as heavily as before, just taking a little more care of what I’d eat. Years went by like this, going through terrible relationships, being unhappy with myself and my weight going back and fourth between 16-17 stone. The sense of loneliness and depression that this can create for yourself is terrible, but like most people we just grin and bare it or feel we somehow deserve it. I was unhappy, and of course that fed the cycle of eating rubbish because I’m fat and being fat because I ate so much rubbish.

Of course, after such a length of time I’d settled into the idea of ‘this is just how my body is’, I’ll forever be the overweight one and almost accepted this role.
Years went by like this, however, in May 2012 something changed. There was no major change in my life, or a massive influence that drove me to take my health more seriously. I’d turned 27yrs old in January 2012 and I remembered a friend once told me that a man’s physical prime is between 28-32yrs old. For some reason, I was just watching TV one day and the reality of this statement hit me like a ton of bricks. How can I be in such poor shape for a man supposedly closing in on his ‘prime years’. The thought alone disgusted me. So gradually I changed my diet and the way I saw food. The drink and smoking was cut right down as well.
I remember going to buy a bike so I could ride to and from work [about 3-4miles at the time] to get in a little cardio. However, I didn’t have a lot of money and the bike store I went to wouldn’t sell me the cheaper bikes due to my weight… So I Jogged. I would jog the 3 ½ miles home from work almost every day. Lets not forget, I hated running with a passion but I knew I just had to make a change. Slowly the run became easier, I worked through the shin splints [they were terrible to say the least], the swollen knees and all the other ailments that came with it. As the weight gradually fell away I found myself enjoying each run more and more, until I began to extend the distances [up to 12miles on occasions]. I was hooked! In 4-5months I managed to fall from 17stone to 13.5 stone [or there about]. That’s a drop of 3.7 stone [23.5kg or 51.8lbs]. I’d never felt happier with myself. Of course with the exercise came the diet. The more I exercised the easier I found eating healthily, as fast food or junk just made me think of undoing all the hard work I’d expended through running that day. Along with my new found love of dieting and exercise came a desire to learn [unlike ever before, as I said, I was never much of an academic] so I also hit the books hard, learning muscles, how to train, how to eat, workout regimes, theories, nutrition etc.

Unfortunately late last year I hit a bad spell. I’d started to move into weight training where I injured both my shoulder and back. On top of that, me and my partner had a stressful house move along with losing our un-born baby daughter [still-birth]. With all of these things happening at once, just weeks before Christmas as well, old habits soon snuck back in. The diet didn’t change too drastically, but I was eating more junk again as well as not training. Of course the drink managed to find its ugly way in there again. We have a 3yr old son, so I wasn’t drunk 24/7, in fact I was very rarely drunk at all, although I found that I was drinking 2-4 beers EVERY night, back to my old emotional crutch again. Thankfully this time I’d learned from my past mistakes and accomplishments. Mid February 2013 I stepped on the scales and found 14.4 stones glaring back at me. However, this time I took notice, so late February [the 25th I believe] I dusted off the old running shoes.
Thanks to this site, the support of those around me and an iron determination like never before, I’m well on the way to the best shape of my life! I’ve already shed a lot of the excess weight and my fitness levels are almost back to where they were. Along with with my rejuvenated sense of diet and exercise also came my desire to learn again. I’m now getting through a few books a week and holding on to each new piece of information for dear life. This is continually fuelled by my desire to become a Personal trainer so I can help others who are/were like me. [I’m currently studying so I can take the course to be fully qualified, although I’ve been told I’d walk through the exam knowing what I know…a true compliment indeed and one I’m very proud of, especially since I’m completely self taught]
So I’d like to take a moment to thank you all, from the authors to the readers, as well as my loving wife and son who allow me to pursue my dream. Reading your posts and seeing your own improvements continually inspires me to improve and push myself harder than ever before, plus I love the competition!
Thank you!

Finally, please remember that you’re never to old or too big to make a change in your life! This is the main reason I want to make this fitness section a success, to provide you with a support system that I never had. I’m a full time father, the house chef, I work long hours and I was heavily overweight, unfit & unmotivated, so just know that if I can do it, there’s nothing stopping you! The hardest part is simply starting.