Two states of affairs—all in the name of love—had 27-year-old Zaitun Khatasi gain weight unexpectedly and unknowingly.
First, it was the good times she enjoyed with ‘this guy’, and then, when things fell apart, she woke up to the reality that he wasn’t the one she had thought.
“You know, when you are in love with this guy, you get too comfortable around him; you even stop looking at yourself in the mirror, start eating everything junk, a lot of candies, just because you feel or think he is okay with it, and before you know it, you are out of shape,” she says.
Ms Khatasi maintains that before meeting ‘this guy’, she wasn’t chubby, as she was always in and out of the gym or always undertaking some form of physical fitness.
But things got even worse when they broke up.
“That phase of going through the healing process also affected me because I continued with my bad eating habits. I wasn’t mentally okay—you know how matters of the heart can be,” she adds.
Before she knew it, Ms Khatasi, standing 5 feet 2, had ballooned to almost 90 kilos. It was not until October 2021 that she decided to act before things got out of control.
“I signed up to a gym and started banging weights, but over time, I realised the excess weight wasn’t leaving me alone. I still looked chubby,” narrates Ms Khatasi, who now weighs 69 kilos.
After soul-searching, the soft-spoken businesswoman realised the problem that had been hindering her progress.
“My nutrition was the problem. I lived with my parents, so you eat what they offer; you can’t dictate. So, to make things right, I had to move out,” she says.
Building her physique and losing 20 kilos in 10 months
Now out on her own, from February this year, Ms Khatasi set herself on a strict regime that has seen her shed 20 kilos in 10 months, acquiring a snatched, sexy physique, as she describes it.
A sucker for strength training Ms Khatasi incorporated weight training, intermittent fasting, and the consumption of a more wholesome diet.
“Most women think weights make them heavier, but I quickly realised the more muscle I gained, the faster my body burned fat. Not just that, having more muscles gives you that tone look many women so badly desire,” she chuckles.
To begin with, she cut out sugar and drastically scaled down on her banana and pineapple intake.
“They are nutritious but are not the best fruits to snack on because they contain high amounts of sugar. Most people don’t know sugar is sugar in your body, natural or not; it’s processed the same way,” says Ms Khatasi.
With sugar out, her diet starts reading something like goat meat and lots of vegetables, chicken and lots of vegetables, dashes of white rice, and fruits, more so blueberries, which she describes as the best fruits one can have.
“I became serious with my diet as well as my weight training programme. After three months, I incorporated intermittent fasting of 16–8 hours, but still with weight training.
“This helps my body not get used to a given routine, ending up hitting a plateau where the muscle growth stalls. So every two to three months, I’m always flipping between fasting and training,” says Ms Khatasi.
The 16–8 Intermittent fasting is considered less restrictive and more flexible than many other diets and works with most lifestyles. It involves limiting food intake to a set window of eight hours per day and then abstaining from food for the remaining 16 hours while drinking water and any other non-calorie beverages. The popularity of this fasting method has widely grown among those looking to lose weight, burn fat, or reap.
“Even when fasting, I still do intense workouts because, with the building of muscles, much is at stake,” she says.
When intermittent fasting begins, Ms Khatasi starts her diet and workout programme in the morning.
“During this fasting programme, my last meal is always by noon or at the latest 1 pm of the previous day. Because I prefer working out in the morning, that means I’m training on an empty stomach, just taking water. One thing that I do during intermittent fasting is cut out carbohydrates so I do away with rice and sweet potatoes instead I do chunks of salads, that’s where I get my glucose from”
She then switches back to her favourite carbs after the intermittent period but is always cognizant of doing fewer portions.
“This is now when I start my day by having a heavy protein shake where I blend a banana, oats, whey protein, and milk, then hit the gym. My meals of the day will then follow.
“During this period, I could do between four and five meals a day, unlike the three I do during intermittent fasting,” she says.
Easy and flexible as it sounds, Ms Khatasi warns that this is not a programme for the faint-hearted.
“Because it requires a lot of discipline to keep up with it. Many times it gets boring because most of the meals you are taking are for functionality and not taste, but still, you have to keep at it,” she says.
For her snacks, an apple will always do, sometimes a small palm-sized chunk of roasted peanuts, or less than ten seeds of Brazilian nuts or almonds.
“I love bananas, I love pineapples but even when on a sugar rush I would rather snack on a watermelon than the two, blueberries are also very good."
Her biggest motivation has been the drastic result she has been able to achieve, garnished with compliments from her peers who saw her when she first began the journey.
“I am yet to achieve my goal; my target is actually to shed nine more kilos, up to 60 kilos, then I begin bulking, with my main focus being my legs and glutes. I guess every lady loves to have some jaw-dropping glutes,” Ms. Khatasi chuckles again.