by Sarah Schwarz

We have been taught from day one how exercise, fasting, and diets free from fats, carbs and sugar are the way to lose weight and maintaining a healthy body. We struggle hard over stress and emotional eating which often result to more stress, and sometimes depression, because we cannot achieve what we want no matter how intensely we follow weight loss programs. Especially, if you already reach the age where your biological mechanism started changing; such as your metabolism, or underlying health conditions that you may have, affects the way your body utilizes its energy from food. And because you don’t feel good, it may affect the way you look at yourself.

Intense fasting, tedious exercises, and giving up on our favorite food for the sake of a thinner waistline and smaller digits on the scale, is now a fad in the past!

May Zaki with her book Mind Over Tummy (Photo by May)

It’s starts in the mind, according to May Zaki, an expert nutritionist, body transformation coash, wellness mentor and best- selling author of the book “Mind Over Tummy” whose first- hand personal experience helped her achieve healthy mind and body without punishing herself with strenuous diet and intense work-outs. She calls it the 3″M” RuleMindset, Meal, and Movement.

“80% of our success to achieve our healthy body and sustain our results depend on our mindset. That’s why most of people fall off the wagon when it comes to permanent weight loss, because you completely neglect dealing with the underlying causes of being overweight and formed our mindset.

Nutrition is about eating everything in moderation, and practice Mindfulness. Unfortunately, we eat for different reasons than physical hunger. Once we are conscious about why do we eat, we will establish healthy relationship with food, where we don’t go for food to feel good anymore.

Finally, we all know how important movement is to our wellbeing. But because the diet and fitness industry tend to complicate exercising and wellness in general. But actually, the main aspect here is sustainability, so in order to sustain movement in our lives, we really need to enjoy it. So, enjoyment is the key for long lasting transformation.”

May’s approach is different. She wants you to enjoy what you eat, eat what you love but she will train you how to be mindful about the portions. The good news, you can still eat desserts!

May eating dessert (Photo by May)

“I tried the conventional way to lose weight, but it didn’t get me anywhere. When I was young, I used to relay on my willpower to cut my favorite food to lose weight, not too long to fall off the wagon and go back to my eating habits, and emotional eating.

But this time, I tried one of the starvation diets out there, and after a whole week of absolute hunger, I wasn’t able to lose one kilo. Which left me broken and devastated. And this was the point I decided to quit and accept the fact that I will continue living overweight.

Which made me decide to shift the focus from my body to my mind, I decided to look for a job. So here in Australia, one of the major challenges you face as a migrant is finding a job. So, I decided to upgrade my qualifications to be a good fit for the Australian market.

And here, I found myself attracted to something interesting called Holistic Weight Management and finally had a chance to dive deep into this sophisticated industry and reveal the real reasons why most people struggle with their long-term weight loss goals and obesity

May Zaki’s best- selling book

After years of studying and managing her business, a weight loss center called Rashaqa by May, she became an expert in the field helping women all around the globe to witness their ideal body goals come to reality.

She shared in her book her self- discovered secret of losing weight. Being a mom of three, she also experienced what most women go through. She gained a lot of weight from stress and emotional- eating and on top of that she has hypothyroid condition which caused her metabolism to slow down. May realized that rewiring the brain by teaching yourself self- love and self- respect, understanding your weaknesses disciplines not only eating habits but also in taking care of the body.

To learn how to love yourself, you would begin to strive to look good. May advised;

“Looking good is the most important thing you could do to yourself. Looking good doesn’t have to be expensive or overwhelming. I have a recipe I give to my clients, and a bounce training within my course, is that once you know your body size, you should transform your wardrobe. Choose and rearrange couple of outfits that suits your lifestyle, whether you’re a mum or a young lady goes to university.

Just by matching some colors with suitable styles from your own current pieces, will transform the way you act towards yourself. This is the basic of self-love.

You never see a mum dressing her kids in a bad way, because she defiantly love them so dressing them in a good way is unnegotiable and it is a result of love and care.

So, I highly recommend anyone to start NOW dressing good, first because it will boost your self-confidence and will help you act in a way that makes an impact on people and finally as Muslims, we are the ambassadors of Islam, so looking good, stylish while modest will definitely change how others perceive us.”

Her book suggests a 5R formula which she designed to empower women to effortlessly get in their healthy shape.

 “Starts with Re-Feel, we have to regulate our emotions, our driving forces. To make sure it drives us towards health and away from emotional eating. Then Re-Eat, you will be introduced to why we eat, what and how to eat in the most enjoyable way possible.

Then Re-Think, where we completely shift our Mindset for ultimate life and body success. Then, Re-New, where you transform your relations starting with yourself, overcome all negative body image, to transforming your relationship with food. Which takes us to Re-live, a whole complete long- lasting transformation of a life free from emotional and physical weight where you experience food freedom.”

May Zaki is a Certified Professional in Weight Management, Sports and Exercise nutrition/ children nutrition, a Certified Life Coach, NLP Practitioner, and a Certified Naturopath and Hypnotherapist; whose expertise has been proven and had helped many women overcome their battle with the scale.

“I believe my competency lays not only on my expertise, but also on my personal experience. I totally feel the deep negative emotions that we hold towards ourselves and our bodies which have a huge impact on our self-worth and self-esteem. I totally know how we are connected emotionally with food so it’s unrealistic to advice someone to cut their favorite food which will lead to more cravings.

Besides I believe in proven formulas based on scientific facts. For example, we don’t expect someone to be a lawyer or a doctor without going through a specific formula which is the university. It is like a recipe.

And that was the reason why I designed proven formulas especially for Muslim mums like the 5R and Re-birth based on 9 mile stones to give birth to a new transformed woman.

And what make these formulas matchless aren’t about losing few inches. These formulas are based on a Non-diet approach, where we learn to eat everything in moderation not only to lose weight but to keep it off for good.

They’re about gaining body respect; it is about gaining self-confidence. They’re about replacing your belief system not only your mindset. I take them deeper to shifting the whole identity, so you can have a nourished body to finally win the flourished life you desire which I believe you deserve.”

Page photo from May Zaki’s Mind Over Tummy highlighting portion control

On the question as to why Nutritionists should be taken seriously, May shares;

“I totally understand why people don’t take nutritionists seriously, because I myself was stuck in an endless battle with my weight because of unqualified nutritionists.

When I started looking for nutrition qualifications, I was shocked to find some nutrition coaching certifications for only 30$. I instantly remembered the nutritionists, I used to visit, who tended to overcomplicate diets to me. Or they used to follow only one school of nutrition. Like cutting carbs or cutting fats. Which made me feel like the joy of life was sucked out of me to follow a weight loss program.

So, I’m totally conscious of why people seek advice from unqualified people like influencers on social media. And from here, I would like to raise awareness that qualified nutritionist and dietitians are everywhere, who can believe in “no size fits all”, who understand the mental challenges you face in your daily life.”

There are nutrition coaches who can help you set realistic health goals and empower you to achieve them without cutting your favorite food. Those experts will educate you about our body signals and how to deal with them, without overwhelm.

In fact, it’s again a matter of mindset, I totally advice the readers to shift their mindset and look for a real expert and follow their intuition, investing with a nutrition professional could be the most valuable investment.”

May Zaki was born and raised in Egypt. She had been wearing hijab before she and her husband migrated to Australia. As a hijabi in the fitness and nutrition profession, May initially found it hard to fit in the “stereotype” in the Western world. But the community of Muslims in her new country never felt so free and welcoming, a perfect atmosphere for her to grow professionally. She decided to focus on her niche audience- the Muslim women in Australia and around the world, while holding true to her identity as a Muslim helped her excel in the field.

May in black and white dress, posing for a photo (Photo by May)

She has been particular about her hijab. At one point, she was jobless for months because there was no suitable job that allows her to wear hijab. Part of her mentoring is changing the way women look at themselves, and dressing up is one of them.

“Actually, one of the main things I teach my clients in my courses, is to know what to wear according to their body shape and size. Wearing a nice outfit that makes you look good, has a great positive impact on your physiology and ultimately change your whole energy. And of course, this could boost your self-confidence.”

May Zaki is not only promoting wellness- a healthy body and mind, she is inspiring women with her fashionable fashion choices.

“So, knowing my body shape which is an apple who stores fat around the mid-section, always makes me choose wrapped blouses that define my waist line or at least add a statement belt on a plain shirt. this gives my body a slimmer look around the waist. And it conveys a sophisticated feminine look.

I also like to have a high waist denim with couple of pants with wide legs, because it’s so practical for me as a mum of three and still I look modest and modern.

May speaking in front of her Muslim audience

For my Hijab, I either like it to be printed with a brand logo or completely plain color. And for my shoes, most of the time you will find me wearing wedges, as I like to look tall and straight. But of course, wearing heels won’t be a practical option for me as a mum so I go for wedges to give me the length and be comfy in the same time. And I can’t tell you how good wedges look under wide-legs pants.

Finally, I am a big fan of rings with large gem stone. So just remembering to put on one ring can transform my whole look.”

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