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I’ve said it before, but starting out from a very high weight has made my particular weight loss journey seem never-ending at times. It even throws people off, when they find out how much I’ve lost, and then they look at me, clearly still overweight. On a recent trip, I was working on my Ipad. My screen was visible to the woman sitting across from me. Being that I was working, I had Engine 2 up on the screen. The woman casually poked her head closer to me, and said “Oh! I did that diet, I really liked it!” I smiled and before I could say anything she said “it’s a great diet, are you thinking about doing it?”

I smiled again and said, “actually I’ve been doing it, and interestingly enough I am headed to a conference this weekend to speak at one of their events.” She looked at me in disbelief at first, and then said “OH, as someone who is just starting?”

I told her I had lost a significant amount of weight so far, over 200 pounds, and have had a lot of other great success aside from that. She looked at me (obviously noticing that I am still pretty overweight) and she said “WOW! How did you get so large?!”

I turned to her and said “Must have been something I ate”

She gave a half hearted laugh, just before the announcement to turn off all electronic devices came on.

The thing is, I’ve often thought the same. How did I get to where I was? Me, the constant dieter who ended up topping the scales somewhere around 450lbs. I try not to dwell on it, and there are times in which I really have a hard time seeing all of the progress I HAVE made. My journey has had plenty of ups and downs. I remind people that success is never a straight line up, it’s a journey of twists, turns, ups and downs. The goal is progress, and the overall direction of where things are headed.

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There are going to be days in which you feel as if you are stuck in the middle of a tunnel of chaos. It will feel as though it will never get better, and that you will never see the way out of the tunnel. I’m here to tell you that it’s ok. You might not feel like a plant-strong rockstar everyday. There might be days in which you question if it’s worth trying anymore. I’ve been there, many times in the past few years. There have been days in which I look in the mirror and I struggle to see any progress, days that I wish more than anything I could just fast forward to the end, whatever the end looks like.

However, recently I had this thought, what if I were to simply look at each day, each moment as a part of my new life? What if I were to embrace the tunnel of chaos, and just accept that even on the hard days, it’s always worth fighting for?

I think we forget how strong we are. Let’s face it, you have been through a lot in your life. Maybe it was leaving your home, or having children, maybe it was losing someone close to you, maybe you had a relationship fall apart. We have all been through our various tunnels in life, and I’m guessing that this one, the one to become a healthier person is just one of many. Sometimes, you have to remember how strong you were in all of those other circumstances. The battles you fought and won. The battles that seemed like you’d never get through them. It may not have been pretty, but you made it through a lot in your life. And you’ll make it through this.

Last week at our Engine 2 retreat, while giving my talk I was discussing how sometimes we don’t even recognize our own success. I know for me, I forget all of the things I HAVE accomplished on my journey. If you have a lot of weight to lose, sometimes it’s hard to see the physical success all the time. Think for a moment what you have done that you can be proud of. Maybe it’s that your numbers look great, your cholesterol or blood pressure is dropping. Maybe it’s just that you have more energy. Maybe it’s that you get out and are active more than you used to be. Perhaps it’s the food choices you are making. When you used to head to the drive-thru, maybe you are heading home to have a plant-strong meal. These are not small things. They all add up to you moving through your tunnel of chaos. With each small decision, you work your way through. It might not feel like that, in fact, it might feel far from that.

But then one day, there is a light, you see it off in the distance, it’s faint, maybe it’s flickering. But you get this little glimmer of hope, a sign that you are headed in the right direction. I had one of those moments last week at our retreat. I was giving my talk, and I decided to do something, well, crazy. I asked Rip to get in my pants.

Yep, you heard that right. And he was MORE than happy to!

I brought a pair of my old pants, they weren’t even the pants I wore at my highest weight. So Rip joined me on stage, and Jane (Rip’s sister) came up to help with our demonstration. And Rip and I did indeed get in my pants, and then, just for fun, Jane joined us.

It’s not everyday when you have 2 Esselstyn’s in your pants.

And that’s when it dawned on me, as all three of us stood in my old pants. I used to stand in those pants, all on my own. And the person I was then is not the person I am now. So much has been shed from the old me. Who would have guessed that a few years later I’d be standing in front of a group of people talking about my journey, joined by 2 of my heroes, standing in the place that I was once so miserable in?

It hasn’t happened overnight, and I still have progress to make, but right now? I see the flicker of hope, staring at the end of the tunnel, and right now, that is what I hold onto.

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Rip, Jane and I – Pant-Strong!

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.

25 Responses to “Pant-Strong”

  1. ATLVegan says:

    Natala, you are my hero. I saw you talk in Atlanta, and it’s the only talk I really remember, it changed how I look at health and how I look at myself. You will never know how much you mean to me, and I could never thank you enough. Keep it up, you are a voice for a lot of us who are struggling.

  2. Leah says:

    Very nice, positive post! It’s important to look back at how far we’ve come. :) And to remember that today really is a new and better day than yesterday as long as we choose to be positive, look at the good side, and make today that amazing day it should be!

  3. Judy Thomas says:

    Really great that I read this. You and others help me to keep on going when I’m not doing so great. Thank you!!!

  4. SunDevil1126 says:

    Thank you for your encouragement, Natala! <3

  5. Diane LeBeau says:

    Clever and funny article. You are a big help to me as I refine my PS-WF experience. Thanks for all you are doing.

  6. Ruth Mizell Dunn says:

    I have to say this is the best blog I have read yet. Not that the others didn’t offer great information but this one touched my heart and spoke to me. Thank you.

  7. Lynnette says:

    Natala, you are such a joy! I am horrified your seat mate was so rude. You are so right that often we need to take time and reflect on how far we have some. There is always another mountain to climb, but we need to stop and appreciate the view from where we have come already.

  8. Lisa says:

    You really need to write a book. Rip is lucky to have you for engine 2, you offer a perspective that no one else could give. Thank you.

  9. Janice says:

    This made me cry, and it made me decide I want to hear you speak this year! Please let us know when you will be.

  10. Guest says:

    this is awesome, all of it. Thank you for sharing your feelings and your hope. I love true image of success.

  11. Tessa says:

    this is awesome, all of it. Thank you for sharing your feelings and your hope. I love the true image of success.

  12. Aran M Cockburn says:

    An awesome message Natala.. You have given me hope, I was getting tired of it all, so much work and I don’t have as far to go as you have traveled.

  13. Mary says:

    I had the honor of seeing you speak, you were the highlight of the weekend for me, the way you talked about fat shaming and the industry of food/diet was remarkable, I too hope that you turn it into a book one day. God bless you Natala.

  14. Anne says:

    Thanks for the laugh (“It must be something I ate.”) and the encouragement on this Friday afternoon. We are ALL “worth it,” and you do such a fabulous job of voicing what many feel. We ARE all plant-strong rockstars!! :) Happy weekend – find something fun to do! Our girls just took off to a class on stand-up-paddling…oh to be 17 again!

  15. Momnipotent says:

    Wow, just wow. You are da’ bomb. I had a good laugh at you having 2 Esselstyn’s in your pants!

  16. Ruth Ceretto says:

    What a great show of success!!! :) Bravo!!

  17. ritab2012 says:

    Natala, in no way have I faced the challenge that you have and continue to do. At one point in my life I weighed about 70lbs more than I do now. I lost it through WW, gained a little back, got cancer, friend gave me the China Study, went vegan…and have not looked back. The best part of the WFPB program is that you get HEALTHY and the by-product is weight loss. As long as I follow the WFPB way of life my weight remains stable. All of you on the journey, Natala rocks. She is your light house, your beacon in the mist. I wish you all great success.

  18. Dana says:

    Natala you are my hero. Every time you write I feel like you are writing to me, and that I’ve known you for my entire life. I really would love to hear you speak as well this year, please let us know when the new schedule is up! Love ya girl.

  19. PlantStrongChica says:

    ditto what everyone else said – Rip is a lucky man to have found you Natala! Your help on Engine 2 Extra has saved my life, and your writing keeps me going!

  20. Deborah says:

    Natala, you are my hero! I see that many people have put this in their comments, but it’s all I could think about as I read your post. Thank you for your bravery, generosity, humor, and courage! YOU ROCK, girlfriend!!!

  21. Sheri says:

    Hi Natala! I needed to read this tonight. I just got back from mall shopping in a big metro area 2 hours from home today. I looked at all the mall people today. They all seemed to be perfectly tan and perfectly slim. I felt frumpy in my size 12 clothes. I have been struggling with the plant based diet … I still need to lose 50+ pounds. I started to berate myself mentally today saying to myself “you should have been further along by now! Why are you still wearing size 12 ? You are a failure at everything you attempt!! You should just throw in the towel and go stuff yourself at the food court!!!” I did not listen to my inner voice. It is hard to stay strong at times! But Natala … You inspire me with your posts soo much! Thank you or sharing your heart with us! You help me every day to hold on to that glimmer of hope that I can achieve weight loss and good health with the plant based diet. Love you always Natala!!!!!!

  22. Diana says:

    please tell us the next Engine 2 book is by you. Love Rip, but it’s time for a woman, mostly YOU. I will also sign up for any talk you give. Will you tour with Rip? Keep going girl, we’re all routing for you!!

  23. Barb says:

    Just joining in the choir of praise. God bless you sweetie, your posts have really changed my life, I thank God for you, and I hope that He continues to give you strength through your incredible journey. I really like your sense of humor!

  24. Nice post, thanks for the motivation!

  25. Sherisse Hartley says:

    Your words are very inspirational and uplifting, thank you!

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