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More than a scale

This post was written by Engine 2 team member, Natala.

For as long as I can remember I have been on a diet. I remember going to weight loss meetings when I was in Middle School. I remember trying my first diet pills when I was 14. The agony of diets is something that I have been struggling through almost my entire life, 24 years to be exact.

When I started going plant-strong I weighed upwards of 450 pounds. Life was not good for me, every day was a struggle. I didn’t weigh 450 pounds for lack of trying different diets, I weighed that much after attempting every single diet known to man, go ahead, ask if I’ve been on a certain diet, if it is out there, I’ve tried it.

Every diet would start out the same. I’d gear up, buy every thing I needed, read the books, watch the videos, buy the ankle weights, the 3lb hand weights, the pedometer, the gym membership, the blender, the salad spinner, the electric grill, the vitamins, pills, herbal supplements. I’d make all of these lofty goals, I would buy dresses that were too small for me and hang them up on my bathroom door, as motivation. I would cut out photos of thin people and hang them up on the fridge, for motivation. I would dream about walking onto some talk show and busting through a giant paper before photo of me and the room cheering. It was my life, for 24 years.

When I started going plant-strong I was not just morbidly obese. I was a severe, out of control diabetic on more medications than in most medicine cabinets. I had severe issues with my legs and feet, I was constantly tired, I hated my life. In fact, I thought for a while that the only way out of the mess I was in, was to take my life.

It was around my lowest point that I discovered a plant-strong diet. I really wasn’t expecting much, my husband was expecting it to last 2-3 weeks at best, and we’d back to our TGI Friday dates.

But a funny thing happened. Sure, I lost weight, but I had lost weight on tons of other diets in the past as well. But what happened that really counted? My blood sugar started to greatly improve, my blood pressure started to get better, the neuropathy in my legs and feet started to improve. I was getting healthier, not just losing weight, anyone can lose weight, not everyone can gain their health back.

It has been a few years since I started. I’ve lost around 200 pounds but still have a long ways to go. Some months I lose weight, some months I don’t. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. Do I have my moments in which the chocolate wins over? More times than I’d like to admit.

But what I have come to realize in the past couple of years, is that health is more than a scale. Health is what is going on inside, it is what is going on inside your mind AND your body. I am on NO medication, I have completely controlled blood sugar with out one medication, my blood pressure is perfect, my cholesterol has dropped almost 200 points, I have energy, I think more clearly. Most importantly, I look forward to my future in a way that I never did before.

Is weight loss important? Sure. But if you focus on just the scale, you lose out on a truly wonderful journey of health. Being plant-strong is not a fad diet, it is a way of life, and it is a journey you will be on from here on out. Every day is not perfect, but each day I am a little better than the day before, and that is what matters the most. Will you be at your goal weight in a few months? Perhaps, but more than likely you will lose weight at a slow and steady pace, a healthy one. Will you become healthier? Absolutely. And that is what the focus should be, health. There are 1000′s of diets for you to choose from. And you will more than likely lose weight (initially) on all of them. However, there is only one way of eating that will produce REAL results, results that truly count in the long run, and that is a plant-strong diet.

Maybe it is time we got rid of the scales, and started focusing on the health changes that are happening from the inside, out. You will know if you are losing weight, your clothes will get smaller, you will feel different. The biggest change you will see might not be the scale, but instead something far more important, what is happening on the inside. Sadly, there is no scale that we can step on every day that can tell us how our endothelial cells are doing.

If you were to meet me, with out knowing anything about me, you would see an obese woman that still has over 100 pounds to lose. What you would not see is the countless hours that I have spent becoming a healthier person, you would not see the vast internal improvements that have happened, you would not see the complete turn around of my mental well being. Maybe it is time, as a society we stopped focusing on the scale, and started focusing on health, perhaps then we would start to see some real changes.

Natala Constantine is certified in plant-based nutrition through Cornell University. She has a passion for helping people become plant-strong, because of her own journey of health. She has been working with the Engine 2 Diet Team since August of 2011. She also plays a mean violin.


About the author

Natala is the director of communications for Engine 2 Diet, she is also one of our coaches on our support site, Engine 2 Extra. A few years ago, Natala was at the end of her rope. She was on almost 15 medications daily, had out of control Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, issues with nerve damage, and was morbidly obese. She was just over 30 years old. She decided to take her life back by becoming plant-strong. She has lost over 200 pounds, got off of all of her medications and now has great health numbers. Natala plays the violin and studied music therapy. She became passionate about plant-strong nutrition, received her Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University, a certificate in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is currently pursuing a degree in nutritional sciences. Natala is also a featured speaker at our Engine 2 Retreats she talks about the reality of our nations obesity epidemic as well as providing practical steps to becoming a healthier person.

39 Responses to “More than a scale”

  1. KL says:

    Can we hear from Natala a lot more? I love Rip, don’t get me wrong :) but hearing from someone who is going through what I am and has gone through so much already really, really helps. No one gets what it is like to be obese, and especially to have lost weight, I’ve lost 50 pounds and still have 100 to go, and feel like no one cares about th 50lbs.
    This was exactly what I needed today, thank you Natala for sharing your heart, hope you can share more in the future.

    • A Jeepah says:

      I agree it’s nice to hear and see people who have been plant strong for a long time. Nice to see what my final goal is. But it’s really great and needed to hear from others who are on the journey like me. “Some months I lose weight, some months I don’t. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. Do I have my moments in which the chocolate wins over? More times than I’d like to admit.” I think this is very important for myself and others who are new to Plant Strong to hear. THANK YOU Natala!

  2. Dana says:

    10000% agree with the previous comment. I just started with a plant-strong diet, and I have been obsessed with the scale.
    I weigh myself every day and I live and die by that stupid thing. If it is good, I feel good, if it is bad I feel like crap about myself. Please, please, please write more about this, I think that many more people could use this kind of insight.
    Just curious, have you tried trimspa? That really made me sick. I’ve also been on about 30 diets, I don’t want engine 2 to be just another diet. Thanks for sharing Natala!

  3. Jen says:

    I was at an E2 immersion a while ago when I met Natala, I loved the immersion, and all of the speakers, but I remember talking to her and listening to her take on all of this and thinking “finally someone gets it”. I am still overweight, I am not always as plant-strong as I want to be, but when I see Natala online or e-mail her she always is able to bring things into focus and mostly understand what I’m going through, there is no judgement. I feel like I’m always judged, especially by people who have not actually lost weight or had health problems, like they look at me and think “what the hell is wrong with you, why don’t you just lose weight?” I am really glad that Natala is on your team, it is good to know that there is someone who can identify and speak to what I’m guessing is a lot of your audience, overweight people who just need a little hope. Thanks to Natala for giving me a little hope today, I also needed it. Love you girl, Jen

  4. Jennifer Gaidjunas says:

    Great article! Thank you!

  5. Lisa says:

    STANDING OVATION! I agree with everyone above and wanted to add that you are a beautiful person inside AND OUT. Maybe you could write a regular series for Engine 2, I know I’d really like to see something like this more, because I also am going through a lot of the same things, I don’t have as much weight to lose, but I still identify with everything you said. Sometimes I don’t feel like other people in the vegan health movement have a clue what it is like to actually lose weight or are people that were once sick, I mean they all share success stories, but it’s kind of like the success stories should maybe be contributing a lot more, I appreciate all the experts who didn’t get overweight or sick, obvs. we have a lot to learn from them, but maybe a balance of the scales so to speak? Natala, are you at an immersion? I’d love to hear you speak sometime, if you are ever out in Jacksonville, I’d love to meet you or set something up so you can talk. If I saw you on the street, I would think, that is a beautiful woman!

  6. Kara says:

    Amazing Natala! I’m so happy & proud of you. When I began my E2 journey I chucked the scales. Donated them to Goodwill. I was the one of the biggest girls in my small town high school & people made fun of me. I was ashamed to eat at school. I started dieting when I was 12. Nothing but E2 has ever worked for me either. I think since my goal wasn’t to lose weight even though I really needed to (my Wii said 32 pounds) I was in tune with my bodies many positive reactions to plant based eating that started occuring within 3 days. After a decade of not being able to poop comfortably, 3 days went by & that problem was cured! I’m not off all meds yet but I’m getting close to that too!!! Feels incredible doesn’t it Natala? I’m so happy I’ve found all of you. Thank you for sharing & I agree, throw out the scales! Your health is more important than what you weigh.

  7. VeganChick says:

    As an overweight vegan gal, this post really resonated with me, people ask me all the time why I am not skinny if I’m a vegan, I tell them I’ve lost 70 pounds but why do they care, I’m healthy, or at least getting healthier. I was recently at a vegan health talk and I was kind of put off that there were no normal people speaking, or people who had actually made some changes, so I agree that it would be nice to hear more stuff like this.

  8. Jen says:

    Yayyyyy!! Food is nourishment. Food is medicine. Food is community. Food is joy.

    Food is not math or science. My body is not a measurement. My body is a living, vital being that deserves the best I can give it. The plant-based diet feeds that vitality. We nourish ourselves with the life that is in the plants and make ourselves more alive (not smaller, or a lesser size, or a different number on a scale).

    Thanks, Natala. You are living all the things I’ve come to believe.

  9. Kelly says:

    All I’ve got to say is FINALLY. Thank you for writing this post Natala, good to know there is someone with me in the trenches of weight loss! Glad you get me.

  10. Brooke says:

    Such an inspiration, truly. I’ve been struggling with Engine2 for about 6 months. Still on lots of meds, way over weight. The cholesterol numbers are much better, but the scale is stuck! It’s easy to get discouraged. Thank you for reminding me about the scale.

  11. JLO says:

    AMEN. Also agree with the above comments, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write more, it is refreshing to have a person who gets this and LIVES it.

  12. Kathy Rhinehart says:

    For those of you who have never met Natala, I had the pleasure of meeting her in Las Vegas over the new year after “meeting” her on a blog we both belong to. She tells you that what you see if you do not know her, is an obese woman – but in reality, what you see is a woman who glows from within. Someone you want to be around because she radiates joy and healthy living. Natala, in my opinion, is as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside. She does not judge people for their looks or their lifestyle, she simply embraces your heart while trying to help as many people as she can. I feel so lucky to consider this incredible woman my friend.

  13. ” Health is what is going on inside, it is what is going on inside your mind AND your body”

    THANK you! No wonder we get along so well Natala. We both have a long, colorful diet history and we both see the importance of mindset for success AND a healthy, happy relationship with food, eating, and your body.

    A few weeks ago I posted an article called “My McDougall Diet Failure”. Of course, it was all about how I eventually had success, but included many of the details, as has your article, about what got in the way of success along the way.

    When you share your story in transparency, you change lives.


  14. Laurie says:

    Made me cry. Just to echo what has been said, maybe Rip could have you write more about this kind of thing, it’s really nice to know there is someone at E2 who really gets what it is like to fight the good fight, it’s really hard.

  15. Cindy Mae says:

    Heart-felt and wonderful share. Thank you!

  16. Lynnette says:

    This is a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. WELL DONE!!! You should feel so proud of yourself.

  17. Marie says:

    Thank you for this! I’ve been vegan/plant strong for about 9 months, I’ve been a vegetarian for over 8 years. I started because I wanted to finally lose all of my “baby” weight – note my daughter will be 3 on Saturday. I struggle with telling people I’m vegan, I’m afraid they will judge me because I’m not skinny. I have lost weight, but I’m not at my goal… but the difference this time is that it’s not just another diet, it’s a way of life for me. When I get tempted by unhealthy foods now, it’s so much easier to say “It’s not vegan, I don’t eat that.” And walk away.

    Agreed, let’s hear more from Natala!

  18. Jenn says:

    YES! Not only would I like to hear more from Natala because she is going through the same thing, but she is a woman! I love all the guys in the plant-strong movent, Rip, his Dad, Jeff Novick, Doug Lisle, Joel Furhman, Dr. Greggor, Dr. Cambell, but are you guys seeing a trend here LOL. It’s refreshing to hear from a woman, it’s why I like Lindsay Nixon so much, nice to see some powerful strong ladies out there! REAL WOMEN EAT PLANTS!!!!!

  19. Sheila says:

    It’s magical the way kicking out the animal foods, fats and sugar and substituting in veggies, fruits and other whole food fixes diabetes. Natala, your health situation is so similar to mine it is eerie. Only difference is I just went plant strong 3 weeks ago. I’m already off insulin and my lower left leg, that was dark purple (looked like raw liver), and was extremely painful and swollen, has returned to looking almost normal. The pain is completely gone. I’m amazed and thrilled that my health is improving so quickly. I’m also shocked and sad that my Dr. discouraged me from going vegan. It was about a year ago that I tried to tell my Dr. I wanted to try eating vegan, but she told me it wouldn’t be safe with all my health problems. It was only when I felt so bad that I didn’t care if it killed me (I was nearly dead anyway) that I just decided to take charge of my own health. I feel cheated out of the past year. I would have made changes immediately if I had only known what a difference it would make. I was expecting only minor, if any, improvement. These positive improvements (lost 10 lbs, pain gone, blood sugars normalized) in so little time, are beyond my wildest dreams. I’m so hopeful for my future; I might actually be able to live a normal life again.

    Also, I love cooking and eating, and whole plant based foods are especially tasty! Summer is coming and I’ve already renewed my CSA membership. Bring on the fresh local tomatoes and blueberries!

  20. Sherrie says:

    Thank you, Natala! I’ve missed your posts on Vegan Hope and am so happy to ready something from you. It is more than the scale. Remembering that helps me keep motivated when I used to give up and eat junk.

  21. Kait says:

    “Some months I lose weight, some months I don’t. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. Do I have my moments in which the chocolate wins over? More times than I’d like to admit.”

    Truer words have never been spoken. I absolutely love this post as it resonates so deeply with me. Beautifully written and offering a great message! Its the overall direction we’re travelling in, not each and every step (or misstep) that truly matters.

    Thank you for sharing and YES…more from Natala please!

  22. Terri says:

    Will natala be at the retreats? Which? I’d like to hear her speak as well.we need more of this. Natala you are beautiful I hope to meet you please let me know about the retreat.

  23. Lisa Irwin says:

    You are truly an inspiration to more people than you realize, Natala. I was taking the 28 day challenge at the WF in Tampa. Your mother spoke during our last class. She is so proud of you! By the time she finished speaking there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. I have struggled throughout my life with my weight. Seems like I’ve been hungry for a few decades. Not anymore though. I love this diet, though I dislike calling it that. I’m no longer hungry and food tastes great.

    Thank you for all you do and share with us!

  24. Lisa Irwin says:

    You are truly an inspiration to more people than you realize, Natala. I was taking the 28 day challenge at the WF in Tampa. Your mother spoke during our last class. She is so proud of you! By the time she finished speaking there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. I have struggled throughout my life with my weight. Seems like I’ve been hungry for a few decades. Not anymore. I love this diet, though I dislike calling it that. I’m no longer hungry and food tastes great.

    Thank you for all you do and share with us!

  25. Jenny says:

    Wow, I got so choked up reading this and of course, reading all the comments. I am a 30 y/o woman who just underwent a pretty massive surgery – I had a malignant tumor removed. The tumor was so big that it actually bulged out of my body and that is how we found it. As if that wasn’t scary enough, I had gastric bypass about 3 and 1/2 years ago and while I lost a lot of weight after my surgery, I was very successful at putting a lot of it back. How much did I lose? How much did I gain? Seriously, you don’t want to know but I will say it because I feel like thats the past. I lost 125 lbs and about a year after (after I got married) the weight started creeping up. At my heaviest post-op, I got to 65 lbs. Not my proudest moment! Now I know a lot of people associate with being overweight with being depressed, low self-esteem and having major health problems. Well, I was the EXCEPTION TO THE RULE! I’ve always been very confident, have high self-esteem and am the healthiest “fat” person you will ever meet with the exception of hypothyroidism. Shortly after my tumor removal which was in September 2011, a friend of mine told me to stop eating meat. He told me a plant-based diet would starve tumors. One thing I forgot to mention is that although my tumor “doesn’t” metastisize, but it does have a very high recurrence rate. So which is better – a tumor that won’t spread or a tumor that can come back as soon as 6 months after being removed? My surgeon has already warned me that a second surgery will be worse than the first and to this day, March 5, 2012, I still have pain and am very limited as to what I can do physically. Before my surgery I was hiking 5+ miles a weekend, now I’m lucky to be able to hike 2-3. I’ll do more, if I push myself but then I’m in pain for 4 days later. All this being said, one day I decided to research what my friend told me and found out…its true! I found out that my local Whole Foods was doing an Engine 2 challenge so I immediately signed up. At first I thought I would start off as a cadet because seriously, how can I sautee my onions and garlic without oil? I got over that one real quick!!!! I started off as a firefighter and have loved every minute of it!!! Do I veer off my diet? Sure, I’m not going to lie but how do I feel when I do? Terrible!!! I have truly embraced the plant-strong lifestyle and am loving it! I go see my oncologist next week Wednesday and if it just so happens that my tumor is growing back then I know its God’s will for me and He has a plan but at least I know that I have done (and will continue to do) everything in my power to feel better and to be good to my body.

    If anyone wants to keep in touch with me, please follow me on twitter and/or email me. I would love to meet other people going through the struggles that we obviously all face.

  26. [...] Anyway! My mom just sent me a link to a really inspiring story from the E2 blog, The Daily Beet.  So if you’re looking for a little inspiration check it out! [...]

  27. Heather says:

    I also got to hear Natala speak a while back, my life was changed, she is so genuine and honest, most of all she’s going through this with all of us, what other programs have someone like her on board?? I needed this reminder today. Thank you Natala, keep on charging forward.

  28. Debbie O'Phelan says:

    My daughter met Natala at the immersion, and is also an Engine 2 team member. She came back from the immersion plant strong and loving it. Even though I thought I was healthy my daughter tried to convince me I could be even healthier. I still need to loose 40 lbs and have battled with obesity most of my adult life. I only listened to my daughter after years of trying to lower my dangerously high blood pressure and was not successful, not even with drugs which I did not want to be on. I gave it 2 weeks to see if it would lower my blood pressure. To my surprise it sure did. I started out 160/120 my last Dr visit 118/121 all in 3 months. I love eating this way . I have also lost 10 lbs. Something also that really helped was listening to a pod cast you can down load for free at thecompassionatecook.com Colleene who has the pod cast is a vegan and is so reasonable about how to reply to people that are critical about being a vegan. How to have have informed conversations with them. i have benefited greatly listening to her pod-casts and have listened to many of them at least 5 times. She has 2 great ones on weight loss.

  29. Debbie O'Phelan says:

    opps 121/81 is what my blood pressure was after 3 months not 118/121 :)

  30. Karen says:

    Seriously needed this today. No offense to Rip or any other of the athletic plant-strong fit atheltes, but I think we need to hear from real world people, most of us are not trying to become athletes or run marathons, we’re just trying to live. Kind of turned me off that the conferences are going to have these pro athletes, it never resonates with me, becuase even when I get healthy I’m not planning to be a pro athelete, I’ll never be able to eat like Rip or some of the other guys, they eat tons of calories, if I ate that much I’d be 500 pounds! I really do love Rip, and Engine 2 but I also would really like to hear more of this stuff, I have really liked the success stories you are posting on the blog, they are all real people with real issues. Thanks for sharing your heart Natala and being honest about your journey, hope I get to meet you some day soon!

  31. Darcy says:

    I saw this on Fat Free Vegan today and wanted to come and comment. I have been obese for a long time as well and I feel like no one understands and everyone judges me, this is the first hopeful thing I have read from someone like me, everyone else TELLS me what to do but hasn’t actually had to do it, just wanted to say thank you. I’d also go to one of the Engine 2 weekends that you were speaking at, it would be nice to hear from someone who has struggled and has had ups and downs. Blessings, Darcy

  32. Engine 2 Team says:

    Hey Everyone!
    I just wanted to thank you for your kind comments. I know how hard it can be, and am here to support anyone who needs support! One of the reasons why I love working with Rip and the E2 team is because they really ‘get’ what real people are going through, there is never any judgement, only encouragement. If you have been looking for support and encouragement, you have definitely come to the right place :) that is what Engine 2 is all about – as Rip likes to say “Don’t forget, the Engine 2 light is ALWAYS on!”


    • Anita says:

      Thank you Natala for comments about the scale. I have been on a diet since September and have fail to lose weight and get my cholesterol down. In January I bought the Engine 2 diet book and yesterday was my official start on my plant strong diet. Even though my goal weight is to lose 40lbs, you have taught me that it’s not just about the scale. It’s about getting healthy and how you feel on the inside. I hope to share with you about my journey in the future. You are such an inspiration to so many of us……Anita

  33. Absolutely beautiful Natala. You are a major success story.

  34. Rachel Gardiner says:

    Natala, you are always such an inspiration, and are most frequently the person I lift up as the motivational example of the Plant-Strong lifestyle when I’m talking it up! We met at an immersion in Austin, Sept 2011, and I have been on the journey ever since, striving to do a little better every day. Thanks for that advice, and the ongoing encouragement to choose to live healthier.

  35. Natalie Coffman-Tyre says:

    I don’t know how I ended up on this post but I’m glad I did. I learned about this program about a year ago but was overwhelmed with other issues such as my son who is seriously underweight at only 6 years old. It was just so large a mountain to climb trying to up his weight and lower mine and keep us both healthy at the same time. I chose to focus on him while neglecting myself. About that time I was beginning to have chronic fatigue, sleep issues, and fibromyalgia pain. Then I began to have trouble walking and doing daily chores. This month I was put on disability. I decided that something has to change so I began eating plant strong the weekend before last and had blood work done on Monday. The next day I got a call from my doctor’s office saying that I have Type II Diabetes like you. I have struggled with many of the same issues and feelings you have too. I am so encouraged to hear that you feel better inside as well as outside. I am so happy for you that you have found the way to better health mentally and physically. And I thank you for sharing your story and giving me hope for a better tomorrow.

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