Natasha Larmie weighs 13st and has a BMI that means she is classed as obese.
But the GP, who calls herself The Fat Doctor, has no plans to lose weight in 2021.
In fact, she has vowed to not lose a pound in the year ahead.
This comes after she dropped nearly three stone last year, thanks to a healthy eating and fitness drive.
Natasha, who lives in Hitchen, Hertfordshire, with her dentist husband Junior, 41, their two sons, and their seven-year-old daughter, went from a size 20 to a size 16 last year.
But this year, losing more weight isn’t part of the mum-of-three’s plans.
‘I have made it my New Year’s Resolution not to lose weight in 2021,’ she says.
‘I know that sounds contrary, but what I have decided to do instead is to prioritise my health.
‘I think health isn’t just about your physical body. Health is about your mental health, your emotional health – and at the moment, it is social and financial too. It is all-encompassing.
‘I don’t want to be that person on the cover of all the magazines. I want to be the most healthy version of me.
‘I am telling everybody I know, “Don’t make weight loss your goal for 2021. Make health your goal for 2021”.’
Natasha developed a difficult relationship with food as a child, when she said her mum weighed her obsessively and chastised her for eating snacks and treats.
After that came troubled teenage years, during which she self-harmed and comfort ate.
Natasha said: ‘I remember being on a diet from a very young age.
‘Being denied snacks made them more tempting, as they were forbidden.’
Things started to change when she studied to become a doctor in London and met Junior.
When she got married at 24 and pregnant a year later, her weight grew.
‘Junior doctors are notorious for not looking after their health, working long shifts and eating whatever they can find,’ said Natasha.
‘I was no different – I put on four stone during that pregnancy.’
Her busy life as a working mother meant she never managed to keep the weight off when she lost it, despite trying various diets including the Mediterranean diet and the Paleo diet.
In 2013, Natasha’s mother passed away shortly after the birth of her daughter, meaning she was dealing with grief and postpartum depression at the same time. Her weight ballooned as she was unable to stop binge-eating treats.
As time has passed, having a daughter of her own has made Natasha realise that she needs to model a healthier approach to food and body image.
The GP is undergoing therapy for her mental wellbeing, and is keen to promote self-love and body acceptance above extreme diets.
While she is still classed as medically obese, Natasha is now happy with her body and her health.
She said: ‘There are plenty of people with a BMI under 25 who don’t live healthy lifestyles for all sorts of reasons.
‘There are also plenty of people with a BMI over 25 who are choosing to eat healthily, exercise regularly and don’t smoke or drink excessively.
‘There is no question that obesity is linked to all sorts of medical conditions, and is a risk factor for various illnesses.
‘However, there is very, very little evidence – if any evidence – that obesity causes medical conditions.
‘In fact, an argument people make is that if obesity is so dangerous and is going to cause us all to die prematurely, then how come we are living longer than we ever have before?’
Natasha is determined to accept herself the way she is and focus on feeling healthy rather than losing weight.
She said: ‘I don’t count calories anymore but I’m using a lot of the techniques of healthy eating I learnt, rather than dieting – like portion control and nutrition – which I still use every day.’
She hopes that her approach will filter down to her children, too, to ensure they grow up without concerns about weight and food.
‘I have never tried to restrict what they eat,’ she said. ‘There is no good food versus bad food, and all the treats and snacks are easily accessible in a drawer.
‘As a result, they aren’t bothered about snacks. They just sit there untouched.’
Natasha extends her approach to body image and health to her treatment of patients, too.
She said: ‘I would never dream of ignoring a person’s risk factors.
‘If I have a patient in front of me who is at risk of diabetes, I’m not going to say to them, “Just eat whatever you like”. That’s dangerous and negligent medically.
‘But, the way I approach it might be slightly different to other GPs.
‘I wouldn’t say to them, “Look, you need to lose weight”, I would say, “I’m worried you’re at risk of developing diabetes and I really want to help you to reduce that risk”.
‘When I follow up with them, I don’t really talk to them about how much weight they have lost – I ask them how it is going with the eating, instead.’
Rather than weighing this kind of patient, Natasha would measure their blood sugar and conduct other health checks.
She said: ‘Otherwise, weight loss becomes the focus, rather than a healthy lifestyle.’
She says the response from patients to her approach has been really encouraging.
She continued: ‘A lot of people actually cry and say, “You are the first GP that hasn’t told me off”, or “I was really afraid to come and talk to you about this. I was really afraid you were going to judge me”.
‘This is why I feel so passionate about challenging these ideas and stereotypes, because I have seen it in front of me on a regular basis.
‘People are weeping – women, men, of all ages and all different backgrounds – as they feel so judged because of their weight.’
So, this year, Natasha – whose blog The Fat Doctor includes articles such as five things she now loves about her belly – will challenge her doubters by continuing to practice what she preaches.
She said: ‘Being overweight remains the thing I am most ashamed of, despite everything I have said.
‘That shame came from my parents, experiences I had at school, society as a whole and all the magazines telling me there is only one way to be beautiful.
‘So, I used food as a way to cope with my emotions, like self-medication.
‘Now, I’m not so much proud of how much weight I have lost, but of how my attitude to weight loss has changed.
‘I no longer make weight loss my goal.
‘I’m not suggesting I will eat whatever I want, or that I’m not going to exercise.
‘I want to be healthy and if I lose weight as a consequence, that’s great.
‘But if I stay at exactly the same weight as I was on New Year’s Eve 2020, I will be happy, as long as I have continued to prioritise my health throughout the year.’
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