Remember when we were little and that chubby kid in the family was poked fun at for always eating or being a little slow? That was probably done in light-hearted humor. But as we’ve gotten older body shaming has become a very real phenomenon. And with the popularity of social media, it has become even easier to target people and bully them on their weight. However, in such a dire situation where people are being targeted over the amount of fat on their body, there have emerged several figures who have taken a stand against body shaming and are promoting a healthy body image.
We recently sat down with Zoha Akhter, a 20 -year-old hailing from Islamabad who underwent drastic weight loss in just nine months. Her story can serve as an inspiration for young people who have gone overweight and are struggling to bounce back.
From being a regular squash player to 75 kgs
Zoha was not always overweight. She’d been active and was a regular squash player. But as soon as she enrolled at university all her healthy habits went down the drain and she started putting on weight. It didn’t help either that there was a McDonald’s down the block where she began eating at least three times a day. There was a lot of work load from university and so she started packing on the pounds because she wasn’t doing any substantial physical activity to burn all the calories she was taking in.
What pushed Zoha to lose weight
Zoha tells us that what eventually led her to start losing weight was not the fact that people were targeting her. The feeling came from within. One day she was sitting and in a moment of epiphany, it hit her that she is wasting away the prime years of her life eating junk food. From then on Zoha vowed to herself that she would say goodbye to fattening food, make her diet more nutritious, and exercise regularly.
Following a strict diet regimen
About nine months ago when Zoha started her journey to weight loss, she put herself on a strict diet. She stopped eating out entirely and opted for homemade food. Her meals were constricted to a proper breakfast in the morning and the rest of the day she would take small healthy snacks. Zoha increased her intake of soups and eggs. Her meals were either baked or grilled in order to lessen the content of oil in the food. An advice she gives to people just starting a diet plan is to shift to all things brown: brown rice, brown bread, and brown sugar. This is something she feels contributed significantly to her weight loss.
Regular exercise and cardio
Along with a strict diet plan Zoha was also focusing on incorporating exercise in her life by signing up for the 12-week Ideal Shape Up Challenge. In the first 2 months Zoha started jogging religiously. She then signed up at a local gym and with the help of an instructor started doing regular workouts. Since exercising requires a lot of energy, Zoha would eat a slice with peanut butter on it. One advice she gives to people is to not hop onto machines when they go to gym but take part in exercises and then follow up with cardio. Zoha also suggests that people who go running outdoors should not run on concrete because it can result in knee or ankle injuries.
Snacking on fruits and salads
Zoha went from eating McDonald’s three times a week to only one proper meal in a day. Hence she’d compensate her untimely hunger pangs with some healthy snacks. She incorporated fruits and salads in her diet and made eggs and milk her best friends. In one day alone, she would drink 1 kg milk all by herself!
The last 7 kgs were the hardest to lose
Once Zoha had lost 15 kgs, she says that the last 7 kgs were the hardest to lose. What helped her reach her target weight were regular workouts at the gym which included Zumba, Aerobics, and Squats.
How Zoha is maintaining herself at 54 kgs
Nine months since she started her diet, Zoha is now at her ideal weight of 54 kgs. Maintaining this is the difficult part. But she is now trying to gain more muscle because doing this makes your body stiff and less prone to weight gain.
Zoha says that her weight loss was not just possible because people around her were supportive but because she was supportive of herself. She did not want to lose weight for the sake of appearing thin but she did not want to waste her prime years living an unhealthy lifestyle. The motivation to lose weight has to come from within you!