“For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with my weight.” I think that maybe one of the most common opening sentences ever written in the history of mankind – whether it be books, blog posts, or even the occasional status.
Dealing with your weight is a struggle for most people and, trust me when I say, #thestruggleisreal.
As a child, I was quite athletic. I loved running around and was a member of several sports teams. Mind you, I still resembled the very sports gear I was playing with (get it? Basically, I looked like a ball).
From early aww-inducing pictures of my chubby cheeks to cruel childhood taunts (“Fat Farah” – honestly, it was too easy), I quickly realized my weight would play a formative part of my identity. Lucky for me, and I can’t state this enough, I had an extremely supportive and loving family who instilled in me a sense of confidence far beyond my looks.
But I’d be lying if I said even that was enough in the face of teasing and taunting. Fast forward through high school and, during my university undergrad, I decided to get serious about my health. I started dieting and exercising religiously and, within a couple of years and with a lot of hard work, I managed to lose over 25 kilos.
I had become the (moderately) successful weight loss story I always dreamed of being. This is not to say I had reached my goal weight, but I was on my way there. Then, my health journey took an unexpected turn.
After graduating university and being faced with the real world, my weight loss plateaued – but that wasn’t the worst of it. Amidst a whirlwind of stress, I developed a series of health problems. Now the list spans far and wide, and anyone who knows me will attest to that. Bottom line? I just didn’t feel good.
For the past two years (minimum), I have been afflicted with one symptom after another. And that wasn’t the worst part. I started putting on weight faster than I could keep up with. So it wasn’t just my health that was suffering, it was my self-esteem. While the weight gain was severely affecting me, my worsening health conditions had gotten out of control. The worst of them was digestive issues.
I was shuttled around from doctor to doctor for months on end, each with their own quick-win, fix-it-all approach. I was diagnosed with everything from stomach ulcers and cysts, to Inflamed Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. At one point, I was taking a whopping 15 pills daily to stave off my stomach pains. And that’s what they were, severe pains. This wasn’t discomfort. This was pain so bad it would leave me bed-ridden.
After trying pretty much everything, I started being proactive. I used my doctors’ visits as informational sessions, where I probed about trends physicians were experiencing with their patients. I sought out information wherever I could. I began making links between what I was eating and how I felt.
I realized there were two main triggers to the pain – dairy and wheat. Moreover, I realized I wasn’t alone. Young adults all over the world are struggling with a diverse array of health issues, all with a strong correlation to nutrition. That is when I got connected to a friend’s physician in Europe, who recommended a 30-day elimination diet that I soon learned is the forbearer of the now renowned “Whole30 Program”.
Now, let’s put all preconceptions aside. Don’t get trapped in the labels of gluten-free or lactose-intolerant. Whole30 is a thirty-day elimination diet. The rationale behind it is to rid your body of all potential nutritional allergens, or food groups likely to cause adverse reactions in your digestive system. T
hese include the recently vilified grains and sugar, as well as dairy, legumes and alcohol. The objectives are to a.) cleanse your system and allow it to “reset” and b.) find out what foods are negatively impacting your health by reintroducing one food group at a time and testing your body’s reactions.
If I were to recite my endless list of “No” foods, and the much much shorter list of “Yes” foods, we’d all just get depressed. Which is exactly why I am writing this. As a self-proclaimed carb and cheese addict, the next 30 days of my life will be extremely difficult.
And as with most things in my life, writing is catharsis. I will need to completely overhaul my relationship with food in an attempt to get my life, and health, back on track.
Despite my natural aversion and suspicion to overplayed nutrition fads – the gluten-frees and the paleos of today – I wholeheartedly believe that modern eating is doing us a great disservice, and I want to share that with you all. Our bodies are telling us that we’re doing something wrong. And for the next 30 days, I’m choosing to listen.
WE SAID THIS: Don’t miss “Ahmed’s Fat Shoelace – How to Lose Weight Everywhere”