health

"I went to the doctor for a general check-up. What I found out changed my life."

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I have always been a fairly body positive person. I exercise at least two to three times a week and I’m generally quite active. I have to be with three kids.

But there was a day just recently when my “body positivity” was in stark contrast to the actual state of my fast deteriorating health.

As I walked up the hill with two friends and all our kids, half way up, I felt my chest tightening and it was becoming increasing difficult to breath. I felt like I was about to collapse.

I fell behind, but was too proud to say anything because it was me – body positive me – who was supposed to be active and healthy. I used my two-year-old son as the excuse for slowing down, until he wanted to be carried and I could barely carry myself.

One of my friends who was with me is a mum who runs, is on her feet a lot and can chase after everyone’s kids. Despite her mummy pouch and stretch marks and saggy boobs, she is stunning and what I could only wish I was – strong and healthy. She carried my son on her shoulders, all the way up.

At this instance, my body had failed me because I couldn’t be available to my child the way he needed me to be. It was at this moment I knew something needed to change. As body positive as I was, I was also unhealthy.

“Morbidly obese”: This was the shocking diagnosis from my doctor after a general check-up. She checked my blood pressure again, which had recently been consistently high while I normally had low blood pressure. This combined with my family history of type 2 diabetes, heart disease – which claimed the life of my maternal grandmother far too early, liver disease, colon cancer and dementia, put me at high risk of a very early death due to illness.

Morbidity – the condition of being diseased. It sunk in as I did the calculations of how old my children would be if I died in 20 to 25 years, due to disease caused by the combination of excess weight and the science of genetics. No amount of body positivity was going to cure this. I was dying slowly, and I needed to do something about my health because this was beyond embracing my curves, it was embracing disease.

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The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Australia’s Australia’s Health 2018 report has found that while Australians are living longer, more than 60 percent of all of us (over 18 years of age) are either overweight or obese, and the proportion of those who are severely obese, has doubled. Obesity continues to be the leading risk factor for chronic diseases which account for 87 percent of deaths.

The report uses the term ‘obesogenic environment’ to describe “an environment that promotes obesity among individuals and populations. This includes factors such as limited access to green spaces, increasing work hours and sedentary jobs and the amount of time we spend doing screen-based activities (such as watching TV)”.

What I found shocking was that the leading cause of death in both men and women wasn’t cancer but coronary heart disease. Something which was knocking at my door, waiting to barge in, any day.

I wasn’t necessarily massive in size. A lot of people would love to be a size 16, but combined with my family history, that size was far too big for me. I know plenty of amazing people who are big and curvaceous but they are also fit, healthy and strong. They work out, they eat right for their body, they don’t have weight-related illnesses.

Twinning #mummaslittlelion #Danial????

A post shared by Mina Zaki (@minazzaki) on

This is where I wanted to be. No longer did I want to be unhealthy, unhappy and feel powerless over my life. After being brutally honest with myself and looking at everything, warts and all, I noticed the common pattern.

While I was exercising almost daily, I was skipping breakfast, eating little to nothing all day and then overeating in one meal, usually dinner. I was able to see the slippery slope I was on. But the question remained as it always did, how could I get off and make the right change for me?

My first step was to talk to my doctor. I found my GP to be sympathetic, helpful and supportive. She provided me with the help and information I needed to take control of my weight, giving me options and solutions that I could work with.

I wish I had raised the matter with her earlier instead of always ignoring the elephant in the room. No pun intended.

But now, I’m on the path to changing my life and won’t stop until I can carry my son on my shoulders, walking uphill and breathing, feeling positive in both body and mind.

Have you been in Mina’s position? What advice do you have? Tell us in the comments below.

For more information on weight loss options, including weight assessment tools, visit cansciencethetheweightoff.com.

This article is sponsored by iNova Pharmaceuticals (Australia) Pty Limited. ABN 13 617 871 539. Level 10, 12 Help Street, Chatswood NSW 2067, Australiawww.inovapharma.com

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