Dubai: In less than nine months, 21-year-old Pakistani expatriate Talha Bin Tarek lost 50 kilos, going from Plus size 6XL to regular medium. He managed to lose the excess weight, from 140 kilos down to 90 kilos, through regular exercise and healthy food choices.
“My waistline reduced from 52 to 34,” said Tarek, whose height is 6.1ft, speaking to Gulf News.
The business administration student didn’t take any pills or opt for surgery. “It was just sensible eating and dedicated physical exercise at my local gym in Ajman,” he said.
The push to change his “fat identity” were due to unflattering remarks from family members and friends at university.
Though chubby as a child, Tarek did not have serious weight issues. However he said it was only after his family relocated from their native country to the UAE that the weight became a problem.
Then aged 12, the availability of high-fat and sugar foods combined with a sedentary lifestyle led to steady weight gain. His food choices were dominated by chips, fizzy drinks, sweetened fruit juices and other fast food options.
“By 18,I weighed 120-125 kilos,” said Tarek, who tried to lose weight by dieting for a few months.
He gained the weight back quickly, returning to his unhealthy food choices and binging.
By the age of 20, while at university, he said his friends made fun of him. “I didn’t like myself – the way I looked. I had difficulty breathing and sleeping. I couldn’t buy clothes for my size easily,” said Tarek.
Then one day it hit him. Depressed and angry with himself for being obese, he hit the gym. “I didn’t tell anyone, not even my family. I suddenly realised how dangerously obese I was,” he said.
Almost every day for the next eight months, he spent up to four hours in the gym, alternating routines like walking, jogging, cycling and toning with light weights.
“Even on days that I had no energy and inclination, I dragged myself to the gym. I was desperate to lose the weight. I looked up the internet for healthy food and exercise advice. I counted calories and learnt to eat right, My mother cooked low calorie food and my father encouraged me to exercise. My gym instructor kept motivating me,” he said.
Now Tarek fits in with his peers, he said. “I am no longer called nasty names. To deal with the excess skin post weight loss, I will look at non-surgical medical options.”