How Caty Pasternak will look in a bikini next month when she moves to Miami is the least of the Poughkeepsie native’s worries.
To Pasternak, 25 of New Hampshire, that’s a major breakthrough, considering how three years ago, looking good in a bikini meant everything to her.
Pasternak had whittled herself down from 230 pounds to a frail 115 over the course of three years for a body building competition. In a matter of hours, Pasternak became an aggressive binge eater, often waking up in the kitchen in the middle of the night, fist-deep in a jar of peanut butter.
The majority of her adult life has been marred with extreme food insecurities and body manipulation. Even though Pasternak says her struggles have made her stronger, what troubles her most is that others are still suffering.
And they don’t have to.
“People are not born to struggle. We were not given a life to feel ashamed of our bodies,” said Pasternak, 25, a life coach.
We are all created out of love and we create our own suffering. We can end it, too.
When the doctors, therapists and hypnotists couldn’t find a cure for Pasternak’s battle with her body, she took matters into her own hands. Now, as a life coach, Pasternak is hoping she can give people the tools they need to finally love themselves.
It all dates back to 2009 for Pasternak, when she was a freshman in high school and acutely aware that she wouldn't be getting asked to prom.
“I was very aware that was because of my body," she said. "My parents had been preaching for me to lose weight but I didn’t understand the magnitude of it until I wanted to start dating.”
Getting started on losing weight was painfully hard. After five minutes on the ARC trainer, Pasternak was winded. She stayed consistent and by the time she started as a freshman at Pace University in Pleasantville had lost more than 50 pounds.
Pasternak was living a balanced lifestyle and had even landed herself a boyfriend, and she was infatuated.
"No guy had ever looked at me the way he did,” she recalled. “But after six months, I found out that he cheated on me. She was so skinny, like a Playboy bunny.
That was heartbreaking to me… it brought back every insecurity I had about myself.
And so, getting a revenge body became Pasternak’s obsession. She eliminated more food groups from her diet, ran more miles and counted more calories.
“Someone at school said I was a skeleton and I was upset but in a weird way was like, ‘Yes. I did it,’” she said. “I felt really powerful for being committed.”
After several deep conversations with her parents and boyfriend — who she gave another chance — Pasternak loosened her grip and started weight training. Her obsession then became about building muscle and achieving the perfect body.
Pasternak went on to become a personal trainer and work at an elite gym in New York City following graduation, and was coaxed by her colleagues to enter a bodybuilding competition.
She left her boyfriend and her job to focus on the completion.
Each day began with two hours of cardio. Every meal was fish and asparagus. It was all strict and regimented… and miserable, she said.
“I looked at myself in the mirror before I went on stage and I noticed my abs went away,” she said. “I was completely emaciated.
I was sick.
Pasternak broke down in tears after the show. Despite nailing her routine, none of the judges called her. She’d lost all of her muscle and felt ashamed, worthless and alone.
“I was an emotional wreck,” she said. “After that was when my life changed.
All I wanted to do was eat.
And she did, for six months straight, she binged and she couldn't stop and she was terrified.
"I bought a lock for my bedroom so I wouldn't be able to sneak out in the middle of the night and eat my dad's cereal," she said.
I kept a bin in my room to go to the bathroom because I knew if I left, I'd end up eating.
It wasn't until Pasternak decided to pick up a book on mindfulness and meditation in Barnes & Noble that she began to see the light.
She realized that if she really wanted to overcome her insecurities around her body and food, she'd have to turn in. Pasternak began meditating every day, making time for mantras, visualizations and — most importantly — self-love, she said.
"I believe in the power of spirituality and self-development because it magnified my life," she said.
I feel an entirely new sense of vitality and gratitude that I didn't have even before I had extreme food issues.
While she still faces some fleeting negative thoughts around food or her body, Pasternak says she is the most normal with food than she's ever been.
She recently launched a health coaching business, complete with a blog, YouTube channel and podcast, and hopes others can "turn in" and achieve true happiness, as she did for herself.
"It's my passion to teach people how to use these tools to eliminate doubts in themselves and cultivate a radical sense of self-acceptance," she said.
You can channel your intuition and reprogram your brain patterns to create a new self.
"People can change," she said. "I did."
EMAIL CATY PASTERNAK TO GET STARTED ON HEALTH COACHING OR VISIT HER WEBSITE: http://www.catypasternak.com