Saira Khan strips down to show off incredible figure and explains why she feels more confident than ever at 50
She was pipped to the post on the first series of The Apprentice in 2005, but since then Saira Khan has been smashing it with her TV career and happy home life. And despite being a popular panellist on Loose Women, in new magazine's exclusive chat she reveals she’s leaving the show after five years and hopes her seat will be taken by a woman who “needs it more”.
“There’s no animosity, it’s just the decision I’ve come to. My contract is up and it’s a clean break,” she reveals.
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Having turned 50 last year, Saira, who has been married to advertising agency owner Steve Hyde for 16 years, embarked on a fitness journey that saw her shed weight, but more importantly helped her get her mental health and wellbeing back on track. And as a mother to Zacariah, 12, and Amara, nine, Saira knows both the joys and the challenges that come with being a parent.
In new magazine's exclusive shoot and interview, Saira opens up about her reasons for leaving Loose Women, reveals why she’s feeling fab at 50, and educates us on the importance of making time for ourselves…
Saira, we’re sorry to hear that you’re leaving Loose Women. How did you come to this decision?
I joined Loose Women to make that panel representative. I felt like me joining that panel was a powerful representation and a move towards representing modern, British society. For me, in the past five years, I’ve shared and spoken about all aspects of my life. I came to that show with a lot of baggage and that show gave me a platform to share. I feel so grateful Loose Women gave me a space to heal and come to terms with some of my life experiences.
You’ve always been upfront and open…
At times I really put my neck on the line and got threats and abuse from the [Asian] community when I talked about taboo subjects. I really wanted to do that for the programme and I’ve had so many women from my background who’ve said, “Thank you so much,” and I feel like I’ve done my duty there. I want to offer my seat as a Loose Woman to another woman who can use that platform to heal and share and for people to understand a different perspective. I never felt that seat was ever going to be permanent, I’m a businesswoman and I always wanted to move on. I would love to see a gay or transgender woman take my seat. I’m leaving that show as diverse as it’s ever been.
Was it a hard decision to make?
It really wasn’t. Because I’m so in touch with myself and I know when my time is up. I feel Loose Women was like a university. You go in there to learn about yourself and you pass the course and you come out with a diploma and an understanding of who you are. I’ve been feeling like that for the past two years, but I didn’t want to leave, because that representation wouldn’t have been there.
We’ve now got three other women of colour on the panel and I feel like I’m leaving it in a really healthy position. I’ve got three TV shows coming out next year and I’m a mum, a wife and a businesswoman. Something has to give and for me it was a natural progression to say, “You know what? This is the right time to leave.” There’s no bitterness and I’m in control of it. I actually think there are other women on that show who have had their time and they need to renew and refresh.
Who do you mean?
I don’t mean anyone in particular. To keep that show fresh and relevant you have to look around and you know when your time is up. I don’t want to ever feel like I’m clinging on to a job because I’m desperate. I want to leave on good terms and on a high. During the past nine months it’s really given people time to reflect and I’m a risk-taker.
Have you spoken about it with the other Loose Women ladies?
You’re the first I’ve told. I don’t want a big drama and I make my own decisions. I’ve talked through it with my husband and kids and they said they’re right behind me. When it comes out I’ll phone them up and I think they’ll understand. But I want to announce it on my terms.
How do you think they’ll react to the news?
I don’t think they’ll be shocked – I’ve been thinking about it for over two years. And a lot of people know I’m a businesswoman and I want to be known as a fantastic businesswoman, not a TV presenter. I still want to do TV – and I’ve got some programmes coming out next year.
There was a lot of controversy about Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes losing their Friday slot on This Morning to Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary. Can there be ageism in the industry?
I don’t think there is, but what is happening in the world of TV is a new world order and it’s about representation. I think it was absolutely wrong to drop them, because that’s the age group that is watching the programme. It doesn’t make sense to me and they are so loved. Personally I would say, “Why don’t you take a day off, Phil and Holly?” There’s enough room for everyone there.
Moving on… You look amazing in our shoot and we hear you’re a fitness fanatic. What makes you love it so much?
On one level, it’s about feeling and looking good in my clothes. I may be 50, but I still want to keep my looks and feel good about myself and staying fit helps me do that. On the other hand, it’s about the mental benefits. I used to exercise so I could eat what I want, but now I do it to keep my hormones and mental health in check – especially since I’m going through the menopause.
You turned 50 last year. Are you feeling fit and healthy?
I feel so good in myself at 50 and it’s down to little lifestyle choices. No fad diet could have done this for me. It’s been about connecting my mind with my body, realising what I want and then getting it done.
You went on quite the fitness journey. Can you tell us a bit about it all?
It started with a pair of jeans. I’ve had them for more than 30 years and they’ve become a kind of barometer for me. I’ve always known if I can get into them that means I’m in a good place with my body. Well, when I turned 50 I tried them on and they wouldn’t even go over my knees – that was my wake-up call. I realised I needed to kick all the little bad habits that had snuck into my routine.
What changes did you make?
I started eating more vegetables and focused on making time for myself to exercise and work on my goals.
Let’s talk about food. You’ve spoken in the past about mindful eating rather than dieting. Tell us more about that…
Name any diet, I’ve tried it. I lost weight, but I always put it back on because they were unsustainable. Eating mindfully is about knowing what you enjoy and being in control of it. It’s not about cutting out food groups, but thinking, “I want a Mars bar. I don’t need a whole one, so I’ll just have a third.” You’ve got to control your portions.
Have you discovered any healthy snacks that curb the cravings?
Yes. They’re called Awesome Supplements Protein Bars. They’re 227 calories a piece, so whenever I have a cup of tea I’ll have one of those instead of a biscuit.
Have you always been confident about your body?
Never as much as I am now. I feel like I’m living my best life at 50. I grew up in the 80s, where it was all about skinny legs and straight hair. Everything about me was opposite to that. I was trying to be that model in the magazines.
What has changed for you?
I’ve started embracing myself. I’ve realised I’m never going to have those long legs, because I’m not built that way. I’m never going to have straight long hair because that’s not my hair type. I’m so grateful for my body because it’s been through so much – I was molested at 13, I had IVF and a Caesarean, I have a skin condition so my skin isn’t perfect – and I’m beginning to appreciate that. I’ve chosen to be happy with what I have, rather than focusing on what I’m lacking.
Do you feel motivated by other women?
Yes! I really believe in the sisterhood. I cherish the compliments I get from women more than those I get from men.
You often talk about doing what you can to make yourself feel sexy. Do you have tips?
Confidence and sexiness start in the mind. You could be the most beautiful woman, but you won’t feel that way unless you’re connected to your body.
You post workout videos on Instagram. Does it feel good to help people?
Really good! I have an Exercise To Music college qualification. This was the first time I’ve put that into practice, which is brilliant.
What’s your advice to people who feel like they don’t have the time to exercise?
It’s not about having an hour. We can all find 15 minutes.
What are your new goals?
To take the fitness journey I started in 2020 to the next level. I want to see how far I can go and take my community along with me. I want to be that woman at the age of 50 who is inspiring not only my generation but the new generation as well.
Saira is the founder of award-winning organic skincare brand Saira Skin, which uses organic oils at the heart of all its products. Visit sairaskin.co.uk
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