By Rebecca Drew
THIS WOMAN was so obsessed with dieting that her PERIODS STOPPED – but she has since embraced her curves and is now on a mission to show others that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
Nutritionist, Emma Nacewicz (29) from Bellmore, New York, USA, wasn’t self-conscious of her body shape until she reached high school where she realised that she was curvier than her friends and had to wear the same clothing brands they were wearing to fit in.
At around 11st 6lb and a UK size 12, Emma found that she always had to buy the biggest size available and the clothes were too tight on her. After leaving college Emma felt fed up with her body and decided to lose weight, before long she was receiving compliments about her smaller figure and had people coming to her for advice on how to achieve the same results.
Emma became hooked on being told that she looked great and soon spiralled into having a disordered relationship with food and exercise where she avoided social events out of fear of going off plan and limited herself to just grilled chicken with vegetables and tap water if she did go out for dinner.
Emma did an hour of cardio and an hour of weight training every day and if she did give into temptation, she would work out for twice as long the following day to burn off the calories. In addition to feeling guilt around food, Emma’s restriction caused her periods to stop for five months and at 11st 6lb and a UK size 12 she was unable to lose any more weight no matter how hard she tried.
Five years ago, Emma had a realisation that she was missing out on living life by trying to force her body to be smaller and smaller which was making her miserable. She discovered intuitive eating and that’s when things started to change.
At 5ft 6in, Emma is now a happy and healthy 15st and UK size 18, she’s an advocate for self-love and body positivity and she no longer considers the number on the scales to be reflective of her worth. Through Instagram she hopes to show other men and women that they don’t have to conform to what they see in the media.
“Growing up I wasn’t self-conscious until high school. By that time, I realised I was a little bit bigger than my friends, and in order to fit in I had to wear the right clothes from the right brands. Those brands didn’t fit my body as well as my peers, I was in the biggest size they offered, and they were tight,” said Emma.
“That is where my journey with weight loss started. At that time everything seemed great on the outside, I was losing weight, people were telling me how great I looked and asking me for advice to help them get those same results.
“Honestly, it felt great. Who doesn’t love being told they look good? I soon realised that I fell into the world of diet culture and thought the more weight I’d lose, the more I would be recognised and complimented.
“Little did they know I was doing an hour of cardio every day, an hour of weight training and restricting my food intake to force my body to be smaller all to fit into a mould.
“This started a spiral down a hole of having a disordered relationship with food where I was only consuming egg whites, chicken and veggies, dying to have desserts, missing out on events and birthdays for the fear of eating off my plan and having to ‘make up’ for it at the gym the next day, all to have a smaller body.
“About one year into my weight loss journey I realised it was having a huge impact on my social life. When I went out, if I did at all, I would only drink water, or vodka seltzer. If I was to eat, I would order plain grilled chicken with vegetables.
“I wouldn’t be able to share appetizers with friends or go out for wine Wednesdays. If I was to cave in and eat food off my ‘plan’ I would do double workouts the next day to ‘work off the calories.’
“My hormones got all out of whack and I even lost my period for a short time. My body stalled and would not lose any more weight no matter what I tried, no matter how long I worked out for. My body was trying to protect me.
“I felt like a fraud and a prisoner in my own body. I realised life is too short to force myself into a smaller body and lose out on what really matters which are memories, relationships and connections.
“That’s when I started to search elsewhere and found intuitive eating, an approach to health and food that has nothing to do with diets, meal plans, discipline or willpower. It teaches you how to get in touch with your body cues like hunger, fullness and satisfaction while learning to trust your body around food again.”
Since learning to love her body, Emma feels a freedom that she has never experienced before, but it’s taken a lot of work and isn’t something that’s been easy for her.
She hopes to be able to inspire other people not to compare themselves to what they see on social media and to find peace in their natural bodies.
“It hasn’t been easy. Accepting the fact that I can’t look like the models all over Instagram was hard but it was the most freeing feeling realising that I am beautiful just the way I am. I started by unfollowing all the accounts that made me feel like I had to change something about my body and that was an important step,” she said.
“With my Instagram I wanted to undo any harm that I did in the past, which was emulate the idea that thinner is better. I wanted to be a shining light for girls and women like myself and create a community for women to come together and share experiences and support one another on the journey to self-love
“It’s boosted my confidence knowing that there are so many other women who struggle with their own body image and I am not alone. Together we can create a new mould of what health actually looks like
“I am more confident within myself knowing that I am worthy of anything, just the way I am right at this moment. I am worthy of taking up space in this world and that beauty is not defined by size. I now workout and move my body in ways I enjoy, not dread.
“You are worthy just the way you are. You do not need to change anything about your body to bring happiness or love. Happiness comes from within and is not reliant on a size or weight.
“Self-confidence doesn’t happen overnight but taking small steps each day to accept your differences and know that they are what make you unique and you will help the process.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/nutritionalblonde