Natalie White never really struggled with her weight during college.
However – like a lot of people – she found it more difficult to keep fit and trim once she started working.
“When I graduated, I picked up a management job that required me to be at work at 4am and work 55 hours a week,” she explains.
“Obviously, I was very tired. Since I was exhausted, I never felt like cooking, so I resorted to frozen food, fast food, pretty much anything quick and easy… my exercise habits were non-existent.”
In fact, by the time she turned 30, she packed on about 22.5kg. Then a health-scare at her doctor’s proved to be wake-up call she needed. “I needed to start treating my body better.
“I started making healthy changes: I stopped smoking, I went vegetarian, and I kept an eye on the foods I was putting in my body.
“I also left my job to find something that wasn't as stressful or exhausting. However, I still wasn't losing weight.”
Natalie admits that she “could never be one of those super fit people,” but intrigued by friends who entered endurance events, she put name down for the Chicago marathon.
“I had to just do it – so I started training,” she also explains to Women’s Health.
“It took me over seven hours to finish my first marathon, but I finished! It was the best feeling ever. I signed up for another one soon after.”
Still, at that point Natalie weighed some 93kg. “I knew I had to do something different to start losing weight.
“Obviously, training for my second marathon and participating in fitness events, like the Spartan Race, weren't enough to help me reach a healthy weight.”
She turned to classes which championed strength training and weights mixed up with cardio exercises in circuits. “It was like nothing I'd ever done before,” she says of the programme.
“During my first class, I could barely do a pushup or a squat, but the challenge brought out my inner competitor.
“I started going twice a week and worked my way up to four times a week.
“On top of that, I started to do a little research online about what it takes to lose weight and fuel my workouts. I learned that I needed to eat way more protein that I was, and that actually made the biggest difference.
“I started to notice more definition in my muscles, and the weight began coming off.”
Two years after setting out to get in shape and improve her health, Natalie weighs just 74kg – a reduction of close-to 20kg from her heaviest.
Although ultimately she hopes to hover around the 64kg mark, she’s also gone from a UK size 22 to a UK size 12.
Along the way, Ms White has clearly learned a lot about her body and diet. And she cites six key tips that help just about everyone achieve similar results…
1) Make life changes: She had to leave a stressful job with long hours – but nothing is worth compromising your health over. Natalie also quit smoking.
2) Don’t get overwhelmed: Natalie has knocked two hours off her marathon time – but her first one took more than seven hours. “I had to just do it – so I started training,” she states.
3) Be patient: She isn’t at her goal weight just yet, but she’s getting there. “By staying patient and being consistent, I don't get discouraged and give up on all the progress I've made,” she says.
4) Look at your diet: You need protein to feed your muscles – so don’t fall into the trap of only going low-fat, or low-carb. Natalia, like a lot of women, wasn’t eating enough protein when she was overweight.
5) Try new workouts: “I love running,” she says, “but if I didn't try the weights classes with my friends, I would have never achieved the results that I wanted or learned that I like to lift heavy things.”
6) Be OK with yourself: “I know I'm not as fast or as strong as some of my athletic friends, but I feel good about what I've accomplished. That success helps me feel confident at the gym and assures me that I'm capable of reaching my weight-loss goal.”