I have always struggled with my weight, ever since I was a young adult.
As a child growing up in Egypt, I used to eat stews, meat, vegetables and rice. My mum mostly cooked light food and was never big on cooking with ghee, which is very traditional in Egypt.
When I got older and capitalism took over, we got all the fast-food chains in Cairo: local Egyptian fast food outlets as well as Maccas and KFC. So when I started working and earning my own money, I ate a lot of that food because that’s what young people did.
But even if I lose weight again and maintain the weight loss, I know that I will never be on the skinny side.
I [later] came to Australia in my early 20s.
Over the years, I’ve lost two rounds of 30 kilograms and put the weight back on again. Right now, at age 40, my weight is on the up curve and I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever been at a size 16-18.
But even if I lose weight again and maintain the weight loss, I know that I will never be on the skinny side. For example, when I was a size 8-10 [in my younger days], my body shape was still quite curvy. It’s taken me a while to understand and embrace that fact.
A complicated relationship with food
My journey with food to-date has been really complicated in the sense that I love food. I am a ‘foodie’ who likes to go out for nice meals and loves to bake at home. But I have yo-yo dieted. I’ve been on about seven or eight different diets and dieted about 15 times.
I’ve gone on a refined sugar diet where I cut out all refined sugars for three years and felt the best I ever have. I now know that when I don’t eat refined sugars and processed foods, I naturally feel so much better.
I’ve also been on a gluten-free diet, the Atkins, ketogenic, the Isagenix shake diet, the 5: 2 diet [intermittent fasting] and I’ve counted calories. Basically, I’ve done pretty much every diet under the sun.
So why do I go keep going back to dieting? I always gain the weight back again. Then, I think I have to do something more drastic than last time to lose weight. It’s a cycle and currently, I’m not at the top of it: I am at the bottom. I’m keen to lose weight.
But as we get older, our metabolism slows down. In my 20s, I could get away with a lot more than I can now. I realise that if I maintain my current weight, in another five years time when I am 45 I could be at risk of getting diabetes and heart problems.
I’ve also decided that the word fat is not an insult. I can now say I have fat because it’s just a description.
What body positivity really means
Right now, I am ‘body positive’, which means I accept that I will never be a skinny person. I also accept the stage that my body is in and, if I am not happy with [my weight because of its relationship to my health], I will work towards improving it.
Being body positive is all about having a mindset where you say ‘this is what I am like now but that doesn’t mean I will be like this forever’. Until that transition happens and I lose weight, I don’t need to feel down about it. I’ve also decided that the word fat is not an insult. I can now say I have fat because it’s just a description.
Recently, I went online and saw the Healthy Mummy diet. It recommends shakes so I’ve ordered some and will start the new diet after Easter…I want to reach a healthy weight where I am not puffed when I go upstairs, walk and run around. But for me, weight loss is not about looking good but maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Will I ever stop dieting? It depends on semantics. Is changing what you eat a diet or a lifestyle change? If you think that improving your health and eating healthy foods is a lifestyle change, then yes, I may stop dieting. I may lose weight and change my eating habits once and for all.