Archive for September, 2015

Fat vs Skinny controversy

Posted: September 20, 2015 in Fat Burning, fitness, fun
Tags: , ,

Most of you know this as a fitness blog so you might come into this article with a pre-conceived idea of where my feelings lie on this subject, but you might actually be surprised…

For some background, here is a link to a story about Nicole Arbour’s imfamous video called “Dear Fat People”.

The gyst of the article is that while she is correct in saying that people are usually fat due to improper diet or sedentary lifestyles, the video does absolutely nothing to inspire change, and worse still labels people due to one aspect of their physicality.

Obviously she’s come under a lot of heat, even by the not so enlightened women of “The View” (an appearance which certainly did Nicole herself no favours – making her seem stupid, naive, pretentious and generally poor at all aspects of comedy). Despite all the uproar, as someone who has gone through the rigors of strict dieting and training I understand that it is human nature to look at people who decide to play video games rather than work out as being “lazy”.

Unfortunately it is not quite that simple because there are psychological aspects to obesity as well, chief among them being low self-esteem and depression. These cause people to sink into a self-loathing “why bother” mentality and videos like Nicole’s only worsen such problems. 

While the women on The View seem to think that weight control is beyond people’s power or caused by outside sources, and not a health concern — the truth of the matter is that people will only ever make the long and difficult changes when they have the desire, the courage and the self-confidence required. Those are the things we should all be striving to share and encourage in others – not only with obese people, but with everyone in our lives who will listen.

(To their credit one of the View ladies made a great point which was that not being fat herself Nicole’s video comes across as being outright nasty, this is why I think formerly obese Ricky Gervais’ similar comments were deemed more acceptable – not because he’s a man as Nicole would have you believe)

Loving ones self sometimes comes at a cost. I have been called a narcissist but I’m okay with that because it means I take responsibility for everything in my life which means that when I’m ready to make change I have the ability.

So the moral of this post is mainly a call to not be so quick to judge, but try to be a little more understanding and supportive. Have a happy day everyone!


SHAWN: Hey Natalie, you look great. Thank you for taking the time to chat! Seeing your regular posts and progress has been a huge personal inspiration.

NATALIE: Thanks, Shawn! I’m happy we were able to connect- and I’m thrilled that my journey has been inspiring! I hope I can help others along the way so thanks for letting me share my story!

SHAWN: When did you begin transforming your physique and was there anything in your life that prompted you to make change?

NATALIE: I started my transformation in November of 2014. To frame it up, I’m 5’8” and generally feel my best between 130-135lbs. In November of 2014, at my heaviest, I was 175lbs. I’ve been an actor and model since my teen years so aesthetics and a certain degree of fitness have always been important to me & my career.

In October of 2013, I’d suffered a back injury which included herniated disks & annular tears, complicated by scoliosis and degenerative disk disease. After diagnosis, a litany of medications and treatments were trialed (physical therapy, TENS, traction) in addition to medical management. I was significantly impaired- barely able to walk a flight of stairs or roll over in bed without debilitating back spasms. Suffice to say, exercise was an impossibility. I became despondent, comfort ate and fell into complete and utter apathy and the weight began to pile on. It was cyclical: the heavier I got, the less my back was able to carry it, the worse I felt, so the more I ate, and the bigger I got. We see this all the time.

I didn’t like who I saw in the mirror, and worse yet, I didn’t like that I didn’t really care to do anything about it. After many tried and failed protocols, we found one that worked for me which was such a gift but it was also at that same time that I was given my life sentence of being “disabled”… That single word is what sent me running (figuratively then) headlong into a lifestyle change. I mean, I turned my lifestyle on its head! Being told I couldn’t is exactly what I needed to go and prove I could. I decided right then and there that I was “disabled but not unable” (In fact, I use the hashtag from time to time in some of my social media posts).

SHAWN: That’s truly incredible! I think a lot of people can empathize with your fears and dare I say “insecurities”. So what does a typical training and diet day in the life of Natalie look like?

NATALIE: When we struck gold with the protocol, I started with the treadmill. Just walking, no incline… frankly, it barely even got my heart rate up but I was trying to condition my body to this new thing called “motion”. So I would walk for 30 minutes to an hour a day just getting limber and reacquainting my body with movement. With that, I started a gradual reduction in calorie consumption. I then decided to kick it up a notch.

Confession: I had a phobia of the gym (in fact, I STILL do)… and was petrified of the thought of trying to get fit around these super-fits, as I call them, and elite athletes, so I opted for home fitness programs. And I’m so glad I did… in January of 2015, I moved on to heavily modified cardio- every day, for a minimum of 2 hours a day. It was so modified that it was as if I were doing an entirely different workout… and I looked like Robocop (chuckle) with my back brace and my knee braces. It wasn’t easy, in fact, some days I would ugly cry while working out. But I didn’t miss a single day.

My calorie count then was 1200, 80-90oz of water, 3 meals and 2 snacks- one of those meals (usually lunch) being a protein shake. I followed a low-carb eating plan, and my macros were: 25% carb, 40% protein and 35% fat. Today, I’ve graduated to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Me?! HIIT? I can hardly believe it myself. A typical day now (9 months and 45 pounds later) looks a little like this: a 30-45 minute HIIT session in the AM to revv up my metabolism for the entire day, a mid-day 30 minute cardio lunch break and now (I’m most excited about this) a PM cardio hip-hop session (30-50 minutes) with my middle son! My metabolism is firing on all cylinders, so I need to fuel the fitness.

My calories are anywhere from 1700-2400 a day, employing the zig-zag method now to keep my weight static and I follow a standard macro diet. And always the 80-90oz of water a day; I live in the desert so this is a non-negotiable. I am planning on swapping my mid-day cardio with weight training to develop more lean muscle in my “problem areas” to further my progress now that I’ve reached my target weight.

SHAWN: That is a really well-designed diet. How did you come up with that?

NATALIE: Ah yes… I did a lot of research before I started tweaking my eating plan. I wanted to find a macro plan, early on, that would allow my body to burn my stored fat while fueling my metabolism and some lean muscle build. Now since I am still trying to figure out how to maintain my weight with my new regimen (after a lot of trial and error) I determined I needed to eat more to support my level of activity but not gain weight or lose weight (I did both in the beginning). I found that the zig-zag method w a standard macro distribution gave me the energy I need to perform and stay at the same weight with minor hormonal fluctuations of 2-3 lbs. My body hasn’t become complacent and continues to perform at am optimal level.

SHAWN: That sounds pretty much ideal! What have been your biggest obstacles and how have you overcome them?

NATALIE: In the beginning, it was the pain. It was striking the balance between ensuring the continued management of my pain while still making progress. And missing food…I knew that if, for one moment, I felt like I was “missing out”, I’d lose momentum and fall back into that #yolo lifestyle and sabotage myself. Thankfully- chalk it up to vanity, stick-with-it-ness- there was never, ever an “I can’t”. If the routine or exercise seemed too tough, I would watch it 20 times if I had to, in order to come up with an appropriate modification so that I could.

As for food, I LOVE food and knew I had to find a compromise in order to stay motivated. So, I allowed myself cheat days throughout my journey… maybe once a month in the beginning- more now. I love to throw parties and serve up decadent deliciousness… it’s a hobby, and I didn’t want to give it up, so I re-engineer all of my favorite recipes for clean eating variations… so I feel like I am still truly enjoying food- just the right kinds of food in the right portions. My guests still feel like they’re being treated to great food and probably feel better leaving with a belly full of clean eats than fatty treats anyway, right?

SHAWN: Have there been any unexpected lessons you learned along the way?

NATALIE: Tons! Most notably, and probably the most frustrating thing for me, was that it can take your body quite some time to start shedding the weight. I figured since I was working so hard, and eating light the weight would just fall off. I was so wrong. It took my body probably about 6 weeks to figure out what the heck was going on before it started losing the weight. That was disheartening. Another lesson… prepare everyone around you for your journey. They can sabotage you without even knowing it if they don’t understand what you’re going to do and how they can help you. Yes, that one chocolate bar CAN hurt me if it sends me to the convenience store to raid the candy aisle at 11pm because I had a taste. Yes, that one glass of wine can hurt me if I have a few more and it jacks with my sleep and I’m too fatigued to work out as a result. No, I’m not narcissistic and it’s not all about me, but right now I need to focus on my wellness and you need to be prepared to encourage me when I fall down. Having my support system in place in advance would’ve been helpful for me.

SHAWN: How did you measure progress?

NATALIE: The measuring tape and my able to do more. The scale was my ENEMY in the beginning. I would caution against using that as your success barometer. Take before photos and measurements before you get started. The scale can play mean tricks on you by making you think you’re not losing weight or- worse yet- gaining weight when your body might simply be re-appropriating the weight to muscle! Measure, measure, measure. Keep a food diary and capture your progress in photos.

SHAWN: Is there anything that you wished you knew before starting that would’ve made your transformation easier?

NATALIE: Not to expect too much too soon, no matter how radical your regimen is. It’s very easy to become frustrated when things don’t happen fast enough… and with that, you run the risk of giving up. To share more. I wish I had shared more with the world in the beginning… community is a very powerful thing. Since I’ve started sharing my transformation, I’ve been the benefactor of so much support and provided the same- it’s amazing knowing that you’re not the only one fighting the good fight. I wish I had known that not everyone would be supportive of the change, and that my circle of friends would change as a result. I got the “oh, you’re no fun anymore”, “obsessed much?” more times than I can count. The negative chatter was discouraging and made me contemplate if I was doing the right thing. Again, surround yourself with people who support you. If they don’t: get new friends!

SHAWN: How do you define “success”?

NATALIE: In the beginning it was by the inches I lost and the dress sizes going down. Today, it’s less about how I look (although I am very proud!)- it’s about how I feel! My stamina and my ability to do more than I have ever been able to do in my adult life with a degree of ease and finesse (dancing excluded!!). But even more so, it’s no longer shying away from those activities/exercises that I HATE (burpees, lunges, and squats) and being able to push on, do them and feel good about it! Personal satisfaction- the huffing and puffing with a full on flush are the things that get me excited today.

SHAWN: What factors would you say contribute most to being successful?

NATALIE: Perseverance. Do it, even if you don’t feel like it. Especially if you don’t feel like it. Employ the “fake it till you make it” mentality. Behave like an athlete training for a competition and get after it. Soon enough you won’t be faking it anymore and fitness will be a natural part of your life. Setting realistic goals. I started off with a goal of 20lbs, thinking that ‘if I can get into the 150s, I’ll be off to a good start’. Then when I achieved that, I went for 10 more, etc. until I hit my ultimate goal. Pardon the pun, but bite-sized pieces are what you’re after here… all the little victories will add up in the end- but give yourself the benefit of winning along the way. Allowing myself to cheat every now and then. It sounds counter-intuitive but it’s true. No one wants to feel like they are depriving themselves constantly. As long as it doesn’t throw you off course, enjoy that glass of wine or that piece of chocolate cake.Rewarding myself. If I hit a goal, I’d reward myself with something fitness related. At first, it was a Fitbit, then it was new work-out clothing, or new shoes. I mean, who doesn’t like to look good when they’re working out? Celebrate successes with practical but fun things- not food. You’re not a puppy after all.

SHAWN: Have your physical achievements had an effect on other areas of your life?

NATALIE: As I’ve mentioned a few times, my circle has changed- for the better. I am surrounded now by like-minded individuals who understand the challenges and the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. I get contacted all of the time from complete strangers, from all walks of life- all over the world, looking for help along their own journey. It’s the most amazing thing. I’m a life coach and stress management coach but never thought I would see myself coaching people through physical transformations as well. So, I’ve discovered an entirely new and brilliantly fulfilling place in the universe. I’ve inadvertently inspired my family to follow suit. My oldest son is a senior in high school and is now weight training (in school and at home) and working on bulk. My mother works out every day- props to “Moms”- she’s 58 and can outrun most people I know and my middle son is just starting down his path. My littlest…(chuckle) she just likes to dance along with the cardio workouts I do. She says she wants to “exercise like Mommy”, gets her own bottle of water and headband and gets to it. It’s pretty meaningful to see the positive changes in my own house- and all of their own volition. Who knew!? My 4 year old is proof that it’s never too early to be a positive role model when it comes to health and fitness!I’ve come to terms with my disability. I’m aware of it, I am managing it (my core strength is nothing to balk at- and that helps!), it’s not managing me. That’s very empowering. I’m more confident now to more actively pursue my acting and modeling again. I won’t have to worry about being type-cast as the frumpy school mom (chuckle).

SHAWN: What is your next personal challenge?

NATALIE: I mentioned my middle son earlier. I have signed up to be his accountability partner in his own fitness journey and it is such an amazing bonding experience. Our goals are to help him lean out a little bit, develop better eating habits, as well as develop some agility and confidence as he prepares for high school. He played witness to my entire journey, the ups and the downs, so it means a lot that he looked to me to lock arms with him to do the same. Personally, I will be incorporating weight training now that my core is strong enough to support it to develop more lean muscle. More specifically, my arms and booty need some help (chuckle). Lastly, I want to continue to evangelize my story and avail myself to anyone that needs some encouragement or support.

SHAWN: Thank you for being so open, it’s been an honour and you’ve shared a ton of gems. How can people make contact if they want to learn more about your coaching services?

NATALIE: I can be found on Instagram @natalie_rostad, or Facebook at