My name is Natasha Gage and I’m a 21 year old masters student from England. Through eating better and moving my butt more, I have managed to lose 80 lbs. over the course of 18 months going from 235 lbs. to 155 lbs.
I had never really battled with my weight as I was in complete denial about it and refusing to acknowledge the full scope of the situation. I was ~235 lbs. at the age of 18, which is big even though I am 5’11”. I knew I wanted to lose weight but I never fully realised to what extent I had ruined my health so any attempt made was half-hearted to say the least. I gained about 70 lbs. in 2 years after I changed schools at 16 and lost any real control over my eating habits with the lack of a proper daily routine.
At the age of 17, I was diagnosed with Long QT which is a potentially fatal genetic heart condition. To treat this I had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted in my chest along with daily doses of beta-blockers. I used this as an excuse to not exercise even though I should have used it as the motivation to reduce the stress on my heart.
I then started university at the age of 18 and soon fell into the trap of drinking and 2 for 1 domino’s pizza coupons multiple times a week. This went on for the entirety of my first year. I was mortified with myself when I saw photos of me at my older sister’s wedding the next summer. I felt sick to my stomach at the site of myself in a poorly fitting dress with bulging arms and hips. I know people say we are beautiful whatever size we are but to myself I was a mess. I used to get out of breath going up stairs, overheat if the weather was slightly warm and my thighs once rubbed together so badly whilst I was wearing a dress on holiday that they bled.
I went to my doctor in January of 2012 to see about how to lose weight. Obviously I was too lazy to lose weight properly and wanted some kind of medical interference. Previously I had tried to use meal replacement shakes and I did lose about 35lbs but this soon piled back on due to how low my daily calorie intake was. My doctor had me stand on the scale before I heard her say the words I was dreading; “you’re obese”. Nobody had ever used that word in context to me. The denial hit me like a punch to the face and I realised just what I was doing to myself day in day out. I cried the entire way back from the doctor and knew I had to do something.
That was January 5th 2012 and I haven’t looked back since. I came home that evening and found the support of the Tumblr community. There were so many inspirational stories of girls just like me that had ditched the poor excuses and changed their habits to lose weight sustainably. There are so many wonderful, friendly people on Tumblr who will welcome you straight into the fitness community and help you with anything they can. I started to research healthy eating, how much I should eat, what strength and cardio workouts appealed to me and new recipes to try.
With a bit of trial and error, I started to lose weight. I found the Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD thanks to Tumblr and that gave me my first real workout. I followed it with my own meal plan that I created to make sure I was meeting all of my needs. After completing the whole thing multiple times through, I did the Ripped in 30 DVD. I tried to exercise about 4-6 times a week and fit it into my university schedule.
I by no means ate 100% clean for the entirety of my journey and I have never been afraid to have time off if I need it. I can still eat a domino’s pizza, takeaway Chinese and the very occasional TGIFridays. I still love food but I feel so much better when I know that I have eaten well. By July 2013, I had finally hit my ultimate goal weight of 155lbs bringing my total loss to 80lbs. I was actually lighter at 21 than I was at 14! My waist has gone from 38/39” down to 26/27” and I have gone from a US16/UK20 to a US4-8/UK8-12. Since then I have maintained my weight through a combination of running, jump rope, at home strength workouts, Blogilates videos on YouTube and more Jillian Michaels DVDs. I have also completely ditched the scales and no longer weigh myself which has been wonderful.
My daily diet is pretty repetitive and the average day looks like this:
– Breakfast: porridge cooked with semi-skimmed milk and I add in either organic peanut butter or chocolate spread. White coffee with no sugar.
– Lunch: tuna, sweetcorn and mayonnaise. Rice cakes or wholemeal toast. 2 portions of fruit.
– Dinner: usually some form of chicken (kiev, roasted thigh, fried) with rice or sweet potato mash and a selection of roasted vegetables.
– Snacks: I snack on homemade smoothies, rice cakes, bananas, grapes, oranges, boiled eggs and cassava crisps. I try to drink 2L of water a day and I also have a Quest Bar or a protein shake after my strength workouts.
Throughout my journey I have been supported and motivated by everyone around me and I have found many friends in the fitness community. I think the one person that kept me going was my boyfriend who has congratulated me on my accomplishments, picked me up on my down days and has been by my side for the last 6 years. He tells me I’ve gotten my sparkle back and I most certainly feel like I have. I’m more confident, I don’t dread social situations anymore, I no longer hide from the camera and I can finally comfortably wear the clothes I’ve always wanted to wear. People have asked me many times how I stay motivated and unfortunately there are no magic words to get you eating healthy or working out. It is your responsibility and you are capable of it. If you want it then dream it, believe it and do it.
My 5 key tips:
– It takes time to gain weight and it will take time to lose it. Do not expect immediate results but do remember that slow progress is still progress and all the little changes add up to big ones.
– Eat enough. Everyone is different and it’s important to properly ascertain how much you should be eating. 1200 cal is not the magic number. I eat 1800 cal a day to suit my individual needs and there are people who eat more than me!
– Ditch the scales. Nobody sees that number but you and it fluctuates so much naturally so why should you define yourself from it? Taking measurements every 2 weeks or so will give you a much better idea of what your body is doing.
– Lifts those weights, girls. Ignore the common misconception that weights or strength work will make you bulky! All the toned and slim celebrities you see will be doing strength and lifting weights too.
– Don’t do exercise that you dread. You don’t necessarily need to coop yourself up in the weight room or glue yourself to the treadmill. You can workout at home and find exercises that are fun and different. The internet holds a wealth of them for you to discover.
Thank you for reading and good luck on your journey to health & happiness!
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