How I Got This Body

Who: Natalie Strahorn, 37, owner, Xtend Barre Old Town
Lives: Alexandria
Height: 5’3″
Start weight: This is more like, heaviest weight, in my 20s, around 126 pounds.
Current weight: 108 pounds, post-baby, might I add!

How long it took: Once I started counting macros, I saw results—I lost five pounds in one week. But, if I didn’t stick with it over the weekend, my weight jumped right back up. After about three months of strict macro counting, I saw the results I wanted from a weight perspective and felt ready to follow intuitive eating. Regular exercise played a large part, too. I want strong arms, lean legs, a flat stomach, and a perky tush. It’s truly the regular exercise—at least five days a week—combined with macro counting for about three months that gave me the goal I wanted, and I’ve been maintaining ever since.

Exercise: Barre classes at my studio, Xtend Barre Old Town, plus either our HIIT class once a week or strength training at the gym once a week, where I’ll do circuits of weights with cardio bursts in between, like jumping rope.

Diet: Macro counting is what gave me the foundational knowledge I needed to follow an 80/20 diet: 80 percent of my diet is clean eating and 20 percent of my diet is treats and splurges. Macro counting is a lot of work and really effing tedious in the beginning. But if you want results, you have to put in the work. And I like that there is science behind counting macros. It means you’re counting the macro nutrients—proteins, fats, and carbs—that your body needs in a day to either lose weight, maintain weight, or bulk.



Fave splurge: Red wine, dark chocolate, peanut butter, French fries, and… this is sad, but I love Domino’s pepperoni pizza and during my pregnancy I ate it once a week. I still aim for that goal.

Newfound self-respect?: Hell-freaking-yes. Especially as a mom. I slimmed down crazy fast after my pregnancy. I gained just under 25 pounds by sticking to my normal diet, but splurging a tiny bit more when I had cravings. A few months post-baby, I couldn’t do what I was used to doing in class or at the gym. After about six months, not only was I back, but actually leaner than before! So now I’m doubly-proud because I taught myself how to have a balanced diet and not starve myself, and am also happy with my body, post-baby, and am possibly even stronger.

My husband really helps me to stick to my goals when I’m not feeling into it. It’s not in a pushy way at all. It’s more in a way that he knows me and knows I’ll be happier if I stick with it. During my pregnancy, we had plans to go to the gym together, and when we got to the gym after a day of running errands, I had zero energy. Honestly, I went into the locker room and ate half a Perfect Bar and read People magazine, then finally emerged from the locker room and did 20 minutes on the elliptical.  I just wasn’t into it, but hey, something is better than nothing!


Then vs. now: I mentally obsessed about food and my weight ALL THE TIME. It was mental prison. I didn’t like the way I looked and it was a constant struggle. I hated hating on myself, but I didn’t know how not to. The most empowering, best feeling isn’t just the physical. It’s the mental freedom. Now, I know my limits and I also enjoy eating things that are good for me. I feel it not just in my body, but in my sleep, skin, and mental clarity.

Workout wisdom: You have to be truly willing to stick with something for a good six months in order to see results. There are no short cuts or fast tricks. Eating healthy and getting the body you want requires a long-term plan that you can stick with for life. Consider your eating habits like a food budget—no one gets rich spending all their cash.  Budget for the things you want and you’ll enjoy them that much more.

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