What Happens After Rock Bottom: My Interview with Abby Rike Rockenbaugh

The Do It Scared™ Podcast with Ruth Soukup provides weekly motivation, inspiration, and practical instruction for anyone tired of settling for “good enough.” Each week we tackle topics like goal-setting, overcoming procrastination, finding the time, energy & know-how for accomplishing our dreams, and overcoming the obstacles that stand in our way. Don’t miss an episode; subscribe here.

Each one of us has a story to tell, but few are as tragic and inspiring as the one EBA student Abby Rike Rockenbaugh has to share.

About a decade ago, Abby shot to fame on the NBC reality series “The Biggest Loser.” If you were as obsessed with the show as I was, you probably know that she endured a horrific disaster before she became famous. But in Episode 8 of the Do It Scared™ podcast, Abby opens up candidly about the day that changed her life forever and reveals how she found the strength to pick herself up and discover her new purpose.

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What Happens After Rock Bottom with Abby Rike Rockenbaugh | Do It Scared Podcast with Ruth Soukup | How to move forward when tragedy strikes

In 2006, Abby lost her husband, her 5-year-old daughter, and her 2-week-old son in a terrible car accident. In an instant, everything she loved was gone.

Abby spent several years trying to find a way just to keep living. Each and every day was a painful struggle, she didn’t know who she could talk to, and she even began to question her faith. In 2009, she hit what she calls her “rock bottom day.” It was then that Abby realized she needed to make a drastic change.

She decided to audition for “The Biggest Loser” in an attempt to force herself to start taking care of her body. Then, to her surprise, the producers chose her to be on the show. But she wasn’t sure she wanted to expose herself to the world in such a raw and naked way. The scariest moment, she explained to me, was when she had to get out of the car at the airport to catch her flight to Los Angeles and begin filming.

But Abby took that frightening step, not knowing that it would be the beginning of a journey that would give her life an entirely new purpose.

After being on the show, Abby was a celebrity. There was an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” speaking engagements all over the country, and endless opportunities Abby couldn’t have imagined.

Although none of that could bring back Abby’s family, the experience made her understand that she the best way to honor them is to live each day with love, laughter, and joy. She’s become an author, a motivational speaker, and founder of an amazing online ministry called Rock This Revival. She also did something she never thought she would: she remarried.

Abby taught me so much during our talk, and you can read some of her incredible advice below. But I encourage you to listen to the whole episode and hear it straight from her. You can find it on iTunes HERE or on Google Play HERE. (Or just search for “Do It Scared” wherever you prefer to listen!) You can also visit doitscared.com for more notes from this episode. Never miss a new episode by subscribing on iTunes.


Life is a journey. But if you’re constantly thinking about where you’ve already been, you won’t be able to appreciate where you actually are. Whether you’re dwelling on past disappointments or trying to recapture joy that you used to feel, it’s not going to do you any good today. Abby will never stop loving the family she lost, but she chooses to honor them by living the best life she can. “If you spend all your time looking in the past, you never see what’s right here,” she said. “I thought, ‘This is not what I picked. This is not what I would have picked. But this is where I am, and I will make the most of every day that I’m here.’”


It’s easy to sit back and assume that everything will work out in the end. We think that if we just wait patiently, the universe will eventually reward us for making it through the hard times. That’s what happens in the movies, isn’t it? But life is not scripted by Hollywood. You have to write your own story. “We’re never promised an easy life,” Abby said. “To think that everything’s going to magically fall into place at one time, you are wasting your life. Because we can’t control our circumstances. All we can do is choose how we respond.”


Everyone has an opinion. And these days, it’s easier than ever to share it with the world. Sure, it’s important to listen to the advice of people you love and trust, but that doesn’t mean you have to do what everyone thinks you should. And you definitely shouldn’t worry about random Facebook comments or dirty looks from strangers. “At the end of the day, I serve an audience of one,” Abby said. “You do what’s right, and either people will like it or not. But it really doesn’t matter. I always say, ‘Don’t go looking for trouble. Don’t read the comments. Just stay off that. Do what’s right and move on. Keep your head down and go.’”


From an early age, we’re all conditioned to avoid making mistakes. Don’t spill the milk. Don’t be late. Don’t get distracted. It’s how we learn to be successful at whatever we’re trying to do. But we often forget that NOBODY is perfect and that making a mistake is really the best way to grow. Abby explained that there’s no sense in beating yourself up about a bad decision. “When you do things and when you have a pure heart in what you’re doing, you’re going to make mistakes,” she said. “It is going to happen. Say you’re sorry and move on. Don’t get bogged down on the mistakes. It’s not a big deal.”


We’re always looking to others for guidance. It’s human nature. If there’s something we want to do, we find someone who’s already done it and try to follow their road to success. But sometimes that road doesn’t exactly line up with our own personal beliefs or values. Abby said it’s up to each of us to decide what’s right for ourselves. “I think that it’s just paramount that you learn from the people that have gone before you, but that you’re not obligated to take that same exact path,” she said. “Never, never do anything that you can’t look yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m good with that.”

I think that it’s just paramount that you learn from the people that have gone before you, but that you’re not obligated to take that same exact path. Click to Tweet

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These are just some of the highlights from this episode, but there is SO much more to hear! You can listen to the entire episode on iTunes HERE or on Google Play HERE. Visit doitscared.com for show notes from this episode, and never miss a new episode by subscribing on iTunes.


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