I have always been active. I started playing soccer at age six, and ever since then have spent much of my life playing sports or training at the gym. From a young age, I have learned the importance of eating healthy and exercising. I always enjoyed going to the gym, but never really set any goals for myself and would never see or feel much progress.

When I was sent home from school last spring (my freshman spring) due to COVID-19, I started running and working out with my neighbor in her garage. I wanted to burn off any “freshman fat” I had put on. 

Rae Gutcheon

It was that spring that I found Natacha Océane’s YouTube channel. Natacha studied biophysics at University College London, and spends her time doing scientific research to understand the human body, which she then translates for her YouTube subscribers. I would obsessively watch her videos on anything from her lifestyle content, to the science of our metabolism, to her workout videos. I came to trust Natacha as she showed all of her videos and training guides are based on heavy, thorough research.

I began to realize the way I was going about being fit and healthy wasn’t actually that healthy; I had almost entirely cut out dairy, and convinced myself that carbs weren’t necessary. 

Rae Gutcheon

It was towards the end of the summer that I decided I wanted to make a change in my life. I wanted to go into my sophomore year focusing on myself. I wanted to be stronger and more athletic. Most importantly, I wanted to feel confident inside and out. I sat down and invested in myself by purchasing Natacha’s "Build. Training & Nutrition Guide."

On her website, Natacha describes the guide as a way to: “build muscle, get stronger and increase your metabolism while staying functional.” The guide is “approved by world-leading Performance Dietician Renee McGregor (who’s an expert behind Great Britain’s most successful Olympic team ever).”

Rae Gutcheon

And so I began. I tracked my calorie intake for a few days before beginning the training aspect of the program. According to the guide, I had to increase my caloric intake by about 800 calories a day in order to be in a caloric surplus, which would allow me to gain muscle.

Although this task was initially daunting, I was determined to take all necessary steps to achieve my goal.

My first couple weeks of training were difficult. I had to relearn to navigate the gym, which was even harder due to COVID restrictions. I also had to start training myself to eat more food. I soon learned that carbs weren’t the devil, but instead gave me superpowers. 

Rae Gutcheon

I started feeling more energized throughout the day, wasn’t fatigued at the gym, and stayed full for longer. I also started incorporating more fat into my diet; not only to help absorb vitamins, but to also intake more calories without a lot of volume. Natacha stresses not cutting out entire food groups. As I began eating more fats, I started incorporating dairy back into my diet, too. 

Rae Gutcheon

I have never had a super unhealthy relationship with food, you could call us civil acquaintances, but Natacha’s program turned my relationship with food into a friendship. I truly began to see food as fuel, energy, and ‘gainz.’ I eat dessert every day (sometimes even twice a day) and never feel bad about it. I never beat myself up over a late-night McDonald’s run or eating an entire bag of Doritos on movie night. As I started eating and appreciating food more, I got stronger. I went from initially squatting 65 pounds (including the bar), to now squatting around 135 pounds. I can now do bicep curls with 20 pound dumbbells and can do pushups like a champ; both of which I never thought would be possible for me.

I celebrate gaining weight and looking curvier. 

Rae Gutcheon

Going to the gym has become a part of my routine as well as an outlet. I have gained insane amounts of confidence, along with physical and mental strength. I have proved to myself that I can, indeed, change myself from the inside out if I put my all into it. As I have completed the 12-week program, I have absolutely reached my goal of changing my body. But this is only the beginning.

I love food because it fuels me to accomplish my goals, and it also just tastes really good. More than anything, I love how I look, because I love what my body can do and how I feel.

Thank you Natacha!

P.S. — Natacha also offers guides focused on training with zero or minimal equipment, starting up your fitness journey, fat loss, and athleticism.

*all photos of me were taken by Danielle Weinberg.

Rae Gutcheon