Once Natalie Sarah gave up her unhealthy snacking habits, she saw the weight fall off. Here, she shares all her diet and exercise secrets.
Once Natalie Sarah started studying and working full-time, she put her health on the side bench.
She would come home starving after a busy day and would end up binge eating unhealthy foods.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but the foods I was eating during the day were not keeping me full and I would come home and starve,” she tells Body+Soul.
“I would snack a lot when I got home from work on foods like Tim Tams and chips.”
Then on weekends, Natalie would dine out with friends and end up drinking one too many sugary cocktails and eating fried foods.
“I’m a social butterfly, so on the weekends I would be with friends and I would be eating out a lot… “I would feel guilty at times, and tell myself that I needed to change my unhealthy habits, but I never did.”
She would try to eat healthily on some days, but what she thought was “healthy” was indeed the opposite.
“I would buy things like muesli bars or pre-packaged sandwiches, thinking I was making healthy decisions. You see, I didn’t really know what was healthy and what wasn’t. A lot of the time, I was just assuming or grossly misinformed.”
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The weight slowly piled on and Natalie soon tipped the scale at her heaviest weight at 73kg.
“I had little energy. I felt very sluggish at times and felt like I would have to rest all day just to prepare myself for a night out. I didn’t do anything too adventurous.”
“There would always be something I wanted to change about my body. I just accepted it, because I didn’t really know what to do about it. I had low energy levels and assumed it was just the way I was, just me getting older.”
It wasn’t until the 32-year-old saw her reflection in the mirror one day and knew she had to start taking proper care of her body.
“I looked in the mirror one morning and thought I have to do something about this,” she recalls. “Somewhere down the line, I lost myself and I wanted to get that girl back.”
11 months after joining training program 28 by Sam Wood – majority of which was spent in COVID lockdown – and Natalie has lost 12kg. Her mindset towards food and exercise has also transformed.
Here’s how she managed to turn her life around in lockdown.
Natalie has learnt to eat “all the colours of the rainbow, lots of fruit and vegetables, and healthy proteins.”
Here’s what a typical day on a plate looks like…
Morning tea: Greek yoghurt and berries.
Lunch: Homemade leftovers OR a salad.
Dinner: A meal from the 28 by Sam Wood program.
She has found that with the right foods, she doesn’t actually need to snack.
“My snacking has also stopped as my healthier eating habits keep me full and satisfied until dinner. I never go hungry.”
When she goes out with friends, she’ll opt for the healthiest choice and watch her portion sizes. For Natalie, it’s all about moderation.
“I’ll have a cocktail or a glass of wine on the weekends – again, I’m only human – but in moderation. Sam Wood’s program allows me to be healthy while also enjoying myself.”
Natalie’s exercise routine
Natalie tries to move her body every day. On Mondays through to Fridays, she’ll do a 28-minute workout at home.
On the weekends she’ll take her active minutes outdoors.
“On the weekends I go for a fast-paced walk or run with my partner or friends, either at Sydney Park or a coastal walk by the beach or National Park. Exercise with a view!
“I have also taken part in a few charity fun runs, something I wouldn’t have done before.”
Natalie on the biggest challenges
The biggest challenge during her transformation was consistency.
“There were days when I felt like I was ‘too busy’ or ‘too tired’ and would start to convince myself that I didn’t have time for a workout. On these days I would challenge my thinking, by telling myself that it was only four per cent of my day and if I can find time to watch TV at night then I could find time to do my workout. I would just get it done,” she explains.
“Plus, I always feel so much better once it’s done, physically and mentally. If I miss a day of working out, I don’t freak out, I just make sure I pick it back up the next day.”
Natalie on the biggest lesson she learnt
Natalie’s whole approach to exercise has changed over the months.
“I stopped working out to ‘get fit’ and ‘lose weight’; it began to be a normal part of my daily routine that made me feel proud and happy with myself. I started focusing on the inside, instead of the out.
“I believed that I needed ‘the perfect body’ but I now realise that the thing I needed was ‘confidence’ in myself. I now have that and I feel great. And that’s something you can’t put a price on.”
For Natalie, it’s all about how a healthy lifestyle affect her mentally.
“I look at myself and think about how far I’ve come and the hard work I have put in and I feel really proud of myself. The biggest transformation is how I’m feeling on the inside. I’ve never felt so happy, excited and confident.