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Natalya opens up about her eating disorder, and how pro wrestling helped her treat it

Natalya’s Instagram

During her recent appearance on Lillian Garcia’s podcast Making Their Way To The Ring, Natalya shared something she has in common with fellow WWE Superstar Alexa Bliss. They’ve both struggled with an eating disorder:

...this is the first time I’ve ever talked about this... Nattie exclusive! But I had an eating disorder when I was eighteen and it lasted for about - I mean they say it never really goes away - but it spanned the course of about three years and I went from a hundred and sixty pounds, in the course of two months after my uncle Owen died - the summer that my uncle died, I lost forty pounds in two months.

And my family was really scared and I remember being very angry at them and thinking like “Why are they confronting me? They should be happy, I look great!”

I didn’t realize it until years later how crazy and scary I looked losing that much weight. I was wearing kids clothes and it was a really hard time for me, but I was reeling from the tragedy of my uncle passing away and how that affected my family and also I think because my Dad wasn’t a part of my life because he was working, and busy, and gone.

I don’t know if this is the right way of putting this, but my eating disorder was a lot about control. I couldn’t control anything else that was going on in my life, but I could control what I ate.

While Alexa’s story involves body-building and fitness competitions helping her manage her disease, third generation pro wrestler Nattie Neidhart credits... what else?

Me getting into wrestling helped cure that eating disorder and I never looked back. Once I fell in love with wrestling I just realized - especially with the help of TJ [her husband TJ Wilson, aka Tyson Kidd], because TJ was my very first trainer, I wanted to do that and I wasn’t going to let food hold me back and so slowly I started to kind of reintroduce myself to food and I did put on some weight because once you go from starving yourself to eating you do gain weight. I’d gotten a little heavier, but I was happier and I was happier because I was pursuing a passion which was wrestling.

As for why she’s sharing her story now? Natalya credits Alexa, and says she shares Bliss motivation of wanting to help other young women who struggle with eating disorders and body image issues by letting them know they’re not alone:

I actually talked to Alexa Bliss about it when she came forward and said she had gone through this I said “I just give you so much credit because it takes a lot of courage to talk about it.” You know, since that happened I just never ever shared that publicly with anyone. It was just something I just didn’t want to have to relive but then I also thought you know, again now that Alexa has talked about her situation it made me really respect her more.

...we can actually raise awareness and help teach young girls that going through something like this is very common - it’s actually becoming a lot more common with body image. It’s something lots of people go through, whether it’s bulimia, or anorexia, or binge-eating disorder.

That’s good stuff. While WWE’s “Women’s Evolution” hasn’t been perfect, getting to know the wrestlers as real people with real challenges rather than “Divas” has been a definite plus.

Check out the whole interview from Lillian’s show on the Afterbuzz TV channel here.

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