women

‘I learnt to give my body what it needs’

For Natasha Martelly, 37, being overweight felt like something that would never change. But when the right time came, she re-educated her eating habits, and the effects have been lasting.

Description: ‘Half a grapefruit with black coffee was a form of torture’

‘Half a grapefruit with black coffee was a form of torture’

Where I was born, in Guyana, South America, we eat rich, stodgy Caribbean food – and lots of it! I came to the UK aged two and a half and grew up eating these traditional meals. But when I hit puberty, I started to put on weight. The doctor said it was a concern, so my mum tried to put me on a diet – at that time they were all very faddy, and half a grapefruit with black coffee felt like a form of torture!

I now realize she was trying to look after me, but at the time it felt like a personal attack, and I fought the change. For years, I failed diet after diet, and all the different rules made me feel anxious and overwhelmed. I didn’t know whether to eat for my blood type, eat more protein, or eat only unrefined carbs. My weight spiralled out of control, and at my heaviest, when I was in my 20s, I weighed over 16 stone, was a size 26 and bought my size 46 HH bras from a specialist shop.

Description: I’ve been at a healthy weight for over five years now, and I love having a waist

I’ve been at a healthy weight for over five years now, and I love having a waist

The turning point came 10 years ago, when my mum was preparing to remarry and start a new life in America. She wanted to slim down for her wedding day, and asked me to diet with her for moral support. This time, because she wasn’t telling me to do it, but asking me for a favour, I stuck to the new regime. I began losing weight and the designers kept having to adjust the boning of my maid of honour’s dress! I used what I’d learnt from reading hundreds of diet books over the years: Atkins taught me that protein makes you feel full and WeightWatchers taught me portion control. Slowly, I started winning the battle. I learnt to give my body what it needs, rather than what my eyes and taste buds want.

I’ve been at a healthy weight for over five years now, and I love having a waist – there’s no way I’d swap it for chocolate fudge cake! I still eat traditional Guyanese food, but now I stop myself from taking such huge portions because I know what will happen if I do. And I stick to the diet rules from my books that actually work. Most importantly, I’ve improved my life expectancy, my energy levels are higher than ever, and I wake up feeling excited to take on the world.

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