Natasha Minto, who does not have diabetes, openly speaks about her struggle with her weight, weighing 155kg at the age of 23, and how she came to lose 70kg and how her weight loss has positively affected her relationship.
Natasha Minto (30), better known as Tash, originally comes from Boksburg, South Africa but moved to Hampshire, England in 2012. She lives with her partner of six and half years, Tony Waterhouse (35).
“I didn’t feel like I had to lose weight for Tony but it was because he loved me at my worst that I felt he deserved me at my best.”
When did you start battling with your weight?
I started getting a bit chubbier than my friends in my last year of primary school. I was always a bit bigger than most of the people I knew. Though, it really escalated when I finished school. When I was younger, my grandad would spend the afternoons with us and treated us to sweets. I think I associated this with feeling safe.
As a child, I was was the fussiest eater. I never ate cooked vegetables, onion, and no food could touch on my plate and don’t even think of giving me a salad.
Unfortunately, I made my parents life very difficult and since we had a lot of other stuff going on at home, my mom let it slide most of the time. I was so fussy that I would eat crisps and slap chips but not roast potatoes or jacket potatoes. This also applied to fruit. I never used to eat mango or kiwi fruit.
Only at the age of 23, did I stop picking onions out of my food. I also now eat tomatoes because I enjoy them rather than I must.
Did your weight bother you? If so, how did you deal with it?
My weight bothered me more and more as I got older. Older kids would pick on me and then when I went to high school, other people would too.
I always had a good group of friends, though, who made me feel welcome and comfortable. So, for the most part it was never a constant thing. Only on occasion. Shopping for clothes, especially for parties, was tough.
Sometimes if my friends and I went out for the night, my friends would get attention from boys and get asked out. But, I very rarely did and this is when it hurt the most. I knew and still maintain that people (guys) wouldn’t give me the time of day because I wasn’t slim and pretty. It was a harsh lesson to learn but made me tougher.
I learnt very early on that if I wasn’t going to be the prettiest, I had to be the funniest or the nicest, or something else for people to like me. So, I worked very hard on that.
I did try dieting and have possibly done every single diet you can think of. Banting, high-carb, low-carb, cabbage soup, popcorn diet, Gummy Berry juice, juicing, shakes only, fruit only, meat only, appetite suppressants, hypnosis. Everything!
This unfortunately has resulted in disordered eating on my part and my relationship with food is still quite damaged. I work on it every day.
What was your heaviest?
I weighed in at 155kg when I was about 23 years old. I tried to avoid the scales when I could.
When did your weight loss journey start and why?
In 2012 my father passed away suddenly three days before Christmas. Then the following year, I developed alopecia (hair loss) and was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism (thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone). The Hashimoto’s was the cause of the alopecia and hypothyroidism.
This was a real wake up call for me and after losing my dad, it really hit home how important it was to stay healthy and for weight loss.
I started really trying in November 2014. Tony and I used to eat out a lot and we were very much in the honeymoon phases of our relationship so we didn’t really try to be healthy. This is when the light came on. Something was working and for the very first time in a long time, I stuck with it. When the weight came off, it was easier to be active and I had more energy so I enjoyed it for the first time ever.
Plus, Tony is a vegetarian so I started exploring vegetables for the first time and my pallet started to change. I enjoy broccoli now!
When did you meet Tony?
We met in 2013. I had just come back from my dad’s funeral in South Africa and was vulnerable. My friend said I should try online dating. By this point, I was probably about 135kg so felt a lot better about myself and gave it a go.
After six months of going on a few unsuccessful dates, I decided to cancel my account. The day I went on to do so, I saw a message from Tony. We got talking and chatted for about four weeks before we met in person and have been together ever since.
Was your weight an insecurity in your relationship with Tony?
My weight was and probably always will be an insecurity of mine. Though, Tony has a way of making me feel like nothing in the world matters other than us. He has never treated me any differently and never even commented on my weight until one day I did.
We did lots of activities and he never once said, “We can’t do this because of your weight or we can’t do that.” And so, we did so much more than I have ever done and this was a huge eye opener.
Tony’s family also treated me like gold. They made me feel very welcome and it was comfortable to talk openly about my feelings with them.
I didn’t feel like I had to lose weight for Tony but it was because he loved me at my worst that I felt he deserved me at my best.
How much do you weigh now?
Since my heaviest of 155kg, I have lost 70kg and now weigh somewhere between 85/90kg depending on the day.
What does your exercise regime consist of?
I developed a real love for exercise and it’s constantly changing. As it stands now, I run three times per week (about 5km), go to Bootcamp three times per week and sometimes add in a boxing class or fit club of some sort.
I tend to have one or two days off a week but even then, I make sure to walk every single day and try to at least hit 10k steps.
Outside of this, Tony and I try to be as active as possible. We go hiking, do outdoors sports, water sports, etc. and I really enjoy it.
What does your diet entail?
Again it depends on the day and I don’t proclaim to be a saint. But, for the most part I stick to a low carbohydrate diet. Very little bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. Low sugar where I can and moderate fat/protein.
For the most part, my weight came off when I reduced my calorie intake. It’s that simple and honestly, I feel the only sustainable way to lose weight is eat less and move more.
I have completely curbed my crisp addiction and went from having a packet a day to almost one per year. Though, I still enjoy chocolate but try to keep it low sugar where I can, and I will almost always have a piece of cake on someone’s birthday.
I really try to live an 80/20 balanced lifestyle so that it doesn’t feel like such hard work.
Have you reach your goal weight?
I haven’t really got a goal. This is very much my life now so if weight loss is a by-product then great but I will keep going regardless. I have always had 80kg in my head as a goal number but as long as I am active and healthy I am happy. I’m trying not to get hung up on a number.
How has your confidence changed?
I’ve always been a fairly confident person, as I explained before. I’ve never battled for friends or jobs, etc. but being able to shop for clothes in normal shops (my mom used to have to make clothes for me at my biggest) and being able to take part in so many adventure activities has completely changed my outlook on life. I have so much to live for.
With extreme weight loss comes the battle of the excess skin. Do you have plans to get it removed?
I have no immediate plans but it’s on the wish list. It’s very heavy and weighs me down and pulls a lot when I exercise. So, I must wear compression gear to stop it from hurting.
Does the excess skin interfere with intimacy with Tony?
The excess skin is a constant battle. I will be honest as it has moments of affecting our intimate moments. But, I am quickly reminded to be proud of my hard work and to enjoy my new body, thanks to the weight loss, as I never would have before.
Tony loved me when I was much bigger and has never been bothered by it. So, why should I be? He truly does love me for what is inside and for that I can’t dare to bring myself down when all he does is lift me up.
If I had the money I would have it removed tomorrow but until then I make peace and enjoy this new lease on life. I won’t let my old body hold me back any longer. How can I let excess skin hold me back when I’ve come so far?
How do you feel being 70kg lighter?
I feel like for the first time in my life, the inside matches the outside. For so long I felt trapped inside a body that didn’t belong to me. Like I was a prisoner. But now, I have a freedom and a future I could only once imagine.
I wouldn’t say I feel sexy but there are moments when I am so proud that I could burst. It’s not always like that and I often must remind myself of how far I’ve come.
I think as women, we naturally will always find something wrong but for the most part I feel like I am the prettiest, healthiest and definitely happiest I’ve ever been.
We chat to Tony
When you first met Tash, what attracted you to her?
We initially met online so it was mostly her personality. She only had a couple of pictures to view. While I was attracted to her physically, I needed a lot more than that to be truly interested in her and didn’t trust online pictures completely.
When we got chatting, we found that we both had a love of music, travel and shared a real interest in different cultures. It was really easy conversation between us that flowed well with just the right amount of laughter. It was only when we first met face to face that I knew I was physically attracted to her.
Did her weight ever bother you and did you want her to lose weight?
I certainly didn’t need her to lose weight. But, I was aware that she wasn’t happy with her size. Wanting her to feel good about herself led me to want her to lose weight.
I was never bothered about her size but did notice her getting a bit out of breath when we would go on walks and stuff, although this never stopped her.
How has Tash changed since she her weight loss?
Tash has found a real love of exercise, which wasn’t apparent at all in the first couple of years together.
She has also started eating a much wider variety of foods but I’m not sure that’s due to the weight loss. Could just be changing taste buds through time.
She has also started to experiment with fashion and is getting more confident wearing brighter colours.
How do you motivate her?
I don’t need to motivate her much as she has great personal motivation. On the odd occasion when she has a down day or a moment where her confidence isn’t great, we might have a little conversation about being proud of what she has achieved and how far she has come with her weight loss.
I believe there is diabetes in your family. Please explain.
My Nan had Type 2 diabetes in her eighties, and my uncle and father have been diagnosed in the last couple of years with Type 2. So, I’m very aware that I may be genetically prone to the disease, albeit later in life.
We have a rule in our house that anything with over a 10% sugar content we avoid but that doesn’t always stick. A bar of chocolate or a couple of beers isn’t uncommon once a week.
With Tash’s weigh loss, did you ever get insecure?
No, I don’t mind other men looking or chatting with Tash because I’m confident in our relationship and trust her completely. It makes me happy that she feels more confident in herself. I would never want her to be miserable just because I was insecure.
Have you ever battled with your weight or health?
I’ve been lucky that I have never had weight or health issues. Although, I did consider myself too skinny in my early 20s. As I get into my late 30s though I’m more aware of healthy eating and keeping fit.
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Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Feel free to email Laurelle on firstname.lastname@example.org