(and why that title is bullshit)
So that title is clickbait, and I’m sorry for that. But it’s also true, so bare with me. The title really should be “how I finally lost weight once I stopped trying to” but that will come later. And for all of this to make sense you need to know a little bit about me. My name is Natalie Ribble and I am 6 feet tall and sitting around 194 right at this moment I think. So I’m a big girl and those are just the facts. I take up lots of space. This is something I used to struggle with a lot.
Now I want to clarify something up front, I have never had an eating disorder. While there were times that my thoughts or behaviors around food may have been disordered, I never suffered from an eating disorder. That isn’t my story. But I have struggled with body image, like potentially every woman on this planet has. It was probably my senior year of high school when I really started trying to be “healthy.” Eating more salads at lunch, eating less in general, going to the gym and spending 60% of my time there on the elliptical. When I went off to college the following year, I was the lowest weight I had ever been at this height. Then, predictably, the freshman 25 hit like a ton of bricks. I spent the following 3 years adhering to a variety of diets, exercising to compensate for food, and weighing myself regularly. I dabbled in keto, vegetarianism, intermittent fasting, running, at home workouts, and more but all in pursuit of weight loss.
And it worked sometimes. I’d lose 10 lbs and be over the moon, and then gain 15 back and be discouraged again. About a year and a half ago I was the heaviest I had ever been. Post grad was a weird time, I was working a ton, sleeping almost none, I was confused and depressed, eating out a lot from lack of planning and laziness, and working out for ALL the wrong reasons. Exercise was a chore, a burden, and something I felt like I had to do in order to lose weight and keep it off. My brain was so focused on the scale and nothing else.
So about a year ago my best friend Katie Eschner (love of my life), introduced me to the Wendler 5-3-1 program and EVERYTHING changed. Everything. For those unfamiliar, the Wendler program is a powerlifting program focused on 4 lifts (squat, deadlift, bench press, and shoulder press). The idea with Wendler is that you go through phases of lifting to get as strong as possible. As I entered into the fitness scene and became a personal trainer, I was surrounded by people who were more focused on getting strong than getting small. These higher level athletes wanted to perform better, move better, lift better, and didn’t care about looking better. The caveat is of course, a lot of them already looked great, so… maybe its a moot point. But regardless, the environment I was in changed which helped change my mindset.
For the first time in my fitness life I was focused on strength, performance, good programming, and learning for myself and my clients instead of weight loss. I ate because I needed fuel for my lifts. I realized if I restricted my food, didn’t eat enough carbs or protein, or fed my body with lower nutrient dense foods, my lifts would suffer. My lifts made me feel powerful, confident, and strong. I felt empowered and unstoppable. I felt for the first time like my body was strong and athletic. I felt like an athlete and so I started eating like an athlete. For the first time in my life, I stopped weighing myself. For the first time in my life my size was an asset and not a burden. For the first time I was focused on growth instead of shrinking. For the first time in my life I was excited about having to size up in pants because that meant my glutes were growing.
For the first time in my life I stopped trying to lose weight (see where this is going now)…
What if I told you that the intentional pursuit of weight loss is what was holding me back. What if I told you that focusing on performance, strength, how I felt, my sleep quality, and how foods made me feel was what led to this transformation. What if I told you that I hadn’t weighed myself in months and thats when I finally got a body that I feel comfortable and confident in.
At first it’s going to feel like a loss of control. It’s going to be a lot of trusting the process. It’s going to be a lot of eating foods you enjoy and not restricting any (I’ll go into that more another time). It’s going to be letting go of trying to lose weight… and I mean really letting it go. Are you willing to sacrifice everything you think you know, relinquish your sense of control, and finally stop trying to lose weight?