Amal Wakim recalls sitting at her high school lunch table, aged 16, sipping on a weight loss smoothie.
She had been told she was pre diabetic – so she had launched herself into radical diets to try to prevent contracting the chronic disease.
But the young Amal had ‘overcorrected’, falling into a dangerous combination of fad dieting and a gym obsession.
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“Back then I wouldn’t have been able to even tell you what a carb tasted like,” Amal tells 7life.
“I had no birthday cake on my birthday, no bread, no pasta – nothing.”
She now concedes that having jumped to the extreme with food and exercise wasn’t “healthy or sustainable”.
Realising her relationship with food was unhealthy, she decided to flip the switch on the dieting culture.
Now in her early 30s, Amal sits down to a bowl of ice-cream every night and loves to tuck into bread.
And not only has she conquered her health issues – she has created a million-dollar empire while doing so.
Looking back to her school years, Amal says she was probably “carrying too much weight”.
She grew up in a Middle Eastern household where food was a vital part of frequent family gatherings.
She was unaware her food choices, and portion sizes, were impacting her health.
It wasn’t until her GP broke the news she was pre diabetic that she realised the health issues her diet was causing.
“This was my rock bottom,” she says.
The teen jumped on Google and discovered food replacement smoothies.
She removed all carbohydrates from her diet and distanced herself from the long tables of food at family gatherings.
She even denied herself cake – on birthdays including her own.
For three years, Amal stuck to strict dieting and exercise.
But she claims she was “miserable”.
So she slowly began reintroducing foods while also researching nutrition.
“I learnt how to nourish your body, a more sustainable approach to dieting,” she explains.
“It’s basic 80 per cent whole foods like your fruit, veg and protein and 20 per cent indulgence.”
As part of that indulgence, Amal allowed herself to have a bowl of ice-cream every night.
When she went out with friends, she would have a wine, and with family she shared pasta and bread.
As she implemented this in her everyday life, she also took up walking.
With this mindset, her weight easily slipped off – so much so, she dropped a staggering five dress sizes.
Friends and family were in awe over her transformation and begged for her secrets.
So she began sharing her advice.
“They would lose 10kg and 20kg,” she smiles.
“And when you feel your best you want to share it and that’s what happened.”
Realising how much she could help people, Amal teamed up with friend Jade Spooner to create a personalised weight loss program.
Fast forward eight years and the besties have transformed more than 50,000 lives.
The women even claimed a spot on the famous Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2021.
The million-dollar-company – Equalution – is a one-stop nutrition hub providing a personal food guide to weight loss.
“You enter in all of your information, like your likes and dislikes,” she explains.
“So, if you hate turkey and broccoli you will never see that in your suggested meal plan.”
Instead, the program creates a dedicated plan filled with your favourite foods and personalised serving size, helping you lose and maintain your goal weight.
For 10 years Amal has stuck to her lifestyle change and has maintained a healthy weight.
And she is proud to say she has had her fair share of birthday cake.
“Everyone should be able to enjoy cake on their birthday,” she smiles.