I wasn’t always a spokesperson for living healthy. In fact, I was quite the opposite. Growing up, I lived for the after dinner snack (mostly made up of Cheese Balls, Munch’ems-remember those? Doritos, or Bugles). I remember eating and eating and eating until finally my mother would say, “Ok, Natasha. I think you’ve had enough.” It was the same routine every single night- and I never once stopped until my mother gave me the five minute warning. It almost became a challenge. Maybe I could finish this entire bag before she notices. Oh! Just another handful more, mom! But I’m still hungry, mom! I can remember this starting around the days of 90210, and continued on for most of my life. To this day I struggle with cravings once 7:00 pm hits. Grey’s Anatomy just isn’t as good without a bag of something salty.. ?
I wasn’t as focused on my weight during elementary school, but during Junior High and High School a lightbulb came on. I was about 130 pounds throughout Jr. High- and I remember this so clearly because a couple friends of mine at the time were talking about another classmate and how “fat” she was- weighing in at 129 lbs. If she was fat, then I must be too, right? (Disclaimer…”fat” is such an ugly word.. And not one that I feel should appropriately describe anyone).
During high school, my average weight was about 145 lbs. Definitely not big, and not small. I was right smack in the middle of average. “Normal,” is what my skinny friends would tell me when discussing my size. Easy for them to say.. It didn’t feel normal to me not being able to share clothes with my closest friends when they all did, and it certainly didn’t feel normal how obsessed I was with food. I stopped eating lunch during high school, thinking a couple of things; 1) I could save the calories and lose a few pounds, and 2) I wouldn’t be judged for what I was eating. I even went as far as stopping most food intake altogether. I remember slicing an apple and those 8 slices would be my meals for an entire day. This would last only a couple of days and then I would binge on everything I could get my hands on.. Often making myself throw up afterwards due to the guilt and shame I would feel for what I had just done.
Despite all of these tortures and efforts, I remained about the same weight throughout the first couple years of college. Then.. Something drastic happened. No, not really. I was just your average single college girl, nursing some low self esteem after being cheated on by an ex boyfriend. I was a little lonely, and food made me happy. I also happened to turn 21, which meant late night partying with my growing group of friends, followed by those 2 am stops at the Taco Bell drive-through. I started gaining weight. Fast forward through that year or two and add another tumultuous relationship, and I was at my heaviest (pre-pregnancy which is a whole other story and years later) at about 175 lbs. This ex of mine also liked food and alcohol, and that combined with our other daily drama added a lot of stress, both emotionally, and on my arteries.
The big a-ha moment with my weight actually came in a very cruel way. I read a Facebook comment that was written on my then-boyfriend’s wall that referenced me as the “fat girlfriend.” As much as I disagree with what this person said and how he said it, he wasn’t altogether wrong. I was definitely unhealthy and definitely overweight, but his words hurt me. Right or wrong, they really hurt. I was completely humiliated. There- he had put into writing for all of social media to see.. Natasha is fat. (There’s that ugly word again).
Shortly after, that relationship ended. One thing I’ve always been pretty good at is not wallowing in self pity, but in taking action. My mom always did a great job of teaching me that in bad situations, I deserve better. I started walking to my apartment’s gym almost daily, exercising on the elliptical, and waking back. More than anything, I did it to keep myself busy. When I was busy, I didn’t have time to sit around and be sad. I lost about twenty pounds, and felt fantastic. I finally fit into my best friend’s size 8 jeans, and man, did I look good! (Side note- shortly after this I ran into the ex, and one of the first things I blurted out was, “Hey you! Remember me? I lost twenty pounds! These are Jacqui’s jeans!”—-fine moment, I know).
Those twenty pounds ignited a fire within me. Over the next year, I met my husband, lost another 20ish pounds, got married, and then the unimaginable happened: I got pregnant. It was a beautiful, and scary time, and I gained 60 pounds during those 9 months. I remember sitting in my doctor’s office crying as she told me I would face problems with obesity after I delivered, and that losing the weight would be one of the hardest things I would ever do. Correction, Mrs. OBGYN. Pushing a 7 pound baby out of my you-know-what was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Losing 70 (yes, 70) pounds postpartum in five months? Surprisingly a piece of cake. (**After this inspiring conversation with my doctor I stopped looking at the scale when I would go in for my weekly appointments. About a year after I delivered, I asked the nurse at my annual visit what my last recorded weight was, because I had no idea. She told me it was 196 pounds. I weighed in that morning at 120 something. I told her to be sure to review those numbers with the doc**).
My son is now almost four years old, and my new “normal” weight on any given day is between 128-132 lbs. I’ve definitely learned-and continue to learn, what works and doesn’t work for my body. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have nights where I stand in my kitchen with the pantry doors open devouring my son’s Halloween candy. But for the most part, I pride myself on making healthy choices. I’ve learned that it’s not about what other people think of how you look, although I admit there is a certain satisfaction in knowing I look good in a particular outfit- I am human after all. What matters is how you feel. It’s taken me a long time to get here, and I know I have a long way to go, but it’s such a happier journey to be on. There’s no longer any shame in talking about my struggle, or talking about my weight in real numbers. More importantly, I want to teach my son how to live well. I don’t want him turning to junk food for therapy or companionship. I want to set the example for him that there are much bigger things to strive for, and that it’s important to take care of the body and mind that we’re given.
*This is a before and after picture. The Me on the left was taken about 9 years ago, when I weighed about 175 lbs. The Me on the right was this past May on vacation with my hubby. I weighed about 126 lbs.*
*After I posted this I went back and read everything I had written. I want to clarify that although I talk a lot about numbers/weights, I don’t believe there’s any value in that. I think I was beautiful at every stage and size in my life, and I know that every person and every body is different. I’m a healthier 128-132 lber than I happened to be at 175+. I don’t get winded going up and down the stairs (most days). The way I treat my body has changed drastically over the years. I’m not an expert and I don’t claim to be. Healthy is what you make it. Healthy can be 120 lbs, 150 lbs, and every other weight in between and above. It’s not a number attached to a scale, but a mindset and a practice. ❤️*