Today we spoke with Aya El Tayeb, a woman who quite literally transformed her life 180 degrees which resulted not only in a changed body but a changed mind and spirit. Aya tells us all about her transformation journey and how she got to be in the best shape of her life.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you used to live your life before your fitness journey.
I was a teenage girl who loved to eat, a lot. I loved all kinds of food from savory to sweet. Food was the thing that made me happy and it was the thing that always made my day. I used to eat my feelings which made me feel a little bit better. Even though I ate a lot, I was a very active teenager although my habits were terrible. I was a heavy smoker who smoked 2 packs a day and I used to smoke hookah every day. I had to eat before I went to sleep every night and I consumed a large amount of junk food and fizzy drinks daily.
2. Do you have an athletic background? Tell us if you played any sports before, went to the gym, etc.
I used to play boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and I used to play tennis when I was young but unfortunately, I had to stop because my weight was affecting my back and knees. That’s what drove me to go to the gym on a daily basis.
3. What motivated you start your weight loss journey? Tell us if there was a certain trigger, or if you just woke up one day and decided that today everything will change.
What made me start my weight loss journey was my dad. My dad was my life, he used to tell me how he wished that I’d lose weight and become fit because he was worried about me, and I used to promise him that I will but never did. When he passed away I had this strong urge to make his wish come true and to make him proud.
What pushed me even further was a doctor that told my mom that if I had stayed the way I was (which was 150kg, with aching back and knees) that I was going live a very short life. What also played a huge role in me starting my journey was that my life was very hard as an obese girl. I used to be gawked at wherever I go with such unkind stares, I used to be made fun off all the time, and I always felt insecure.
4. What lifestyle changes did you make on your fitness journey? What were the first things you did, did you eliminate any foods, pick up new healthy habits?
The one major thing I had to change was my eating habit. I had to not only diet but I had to eat healthy because I was never going to lose weight eating the way I did. I eliminated junk food, late night snacks, fizzy drinks, and fried food. Instead, I ate salads, vegetables, and grilled protein. It was very difficult but nothing was more difficult than having to walk around as an obese girl facing people’s harsh stares and hurtful comments. I quit smoking completely 3 years ago. I also changed my exercise routine from training at the gym, to training CrossFit.
5. What made you choose CrossFit? Out of all the other exercise and fitness programs out there why did you specifically choose CrossFit?
I used to walk in front of “Crossfit Engine 38” and see how motivating it was and how different it was compared to an ordinary gym, it looked way more fun. I was scared and to try it at first and thought I was going to be a laughing stock. I was happily surprised to see that this was not what the case at all, I actually gave it a try, and felt a very powerful positive energy from the people and the coaches there. I started to love it, and as I got stronger and lost more weight I started to go more and stay for longer hours. Going to CrossFit actually became how I let my feelings out.
6. Did your friends and family play any role in your journey to a fitter healthier you? Tell us who was your biggest supporter.
My friends and family played a major role in me becoming how I am today. They always supported what I did and cheered me on the whole way. The biggest supporter on my journey, however, was my main coach Mourad Gaber. I started with him from the very beginning 3 years ago, and he never gave up on me. He pushed me and he still does every day to become stronger and fitter. This is truly what makes me work hard to achieve my goals, he makes me what to set higher goals and reach for the stars.
7. What are the main tools that made you use to stay on track, any motivational apps, vision boards, etc?
Actually, all my motivation comes from those around me supporting me. Seeing people talk about my fitness journey, my family expressing how proud they are of me and most of all knowing that I kept my promise to my father and made him happy is what pushes me more every day to work harder.
8. What tips would you tell anyone who wants to start their own fitness journey to a healthier body?
People starting their journey have to be convinced that they want to change and are willing to change. There should be a purpose or a goal they want to reach and work hard to achieve it. It will not be easy, they will want to quit, they’ll feel like its the worst thing ever, but at the end, they’ll feel great and feel like winners when they are healthier, fitter and stronger.
If you want more inspirational stories like Aya’s check out our other Transformation Tuesday Features: This Man Transformed His Body By Following The Carb Cycling Diet Plan