Rafaqat Ali
Rafaqat Ali before (left) and after Image Credit: Supplied

It’s tough to see where you are going wrong in terms of weight control when your day is full of exercise – going up and down ladders or steps, trying to get to a dozen places at the same time.

For 29-year-old Rafaqat Ali, who has been in the UAE since 2012, this was a problem he was only too familiar with. As a technician for a company, his work requires him to be constantly on his toes and that was something he had been comfortable with. Until last year, when he realised that he’d been slowly gaining weight, until the 5-foot-six-inch Pakistani expat now weighed 97kg.


To put this into context, when he’d begun his stint in the country he was 65kg.

“I ate too much fast food and my weight went up slowly, slowly…all the way to 95kg,” he tells Gulf News in an interview.

He recalls feeling breathless and uncomfortable in his skin; he remembers sweating with little strain. He recalls many well-wishers warning him, fearing for him. “Many people are saying you are very big, maybe you will have problem.”

Once he zeroed in on his problem – his diet – things began to change. “I used to drink about a litre of Pepsi a day. I would eat too much: burger, biryani, oily, oily food.”

First he cut out eating the fast food, but then he realised his portion sizes were quite large too.

Recognising that this was a long game, he didn’t go down the crash diet route, choosing instead to cut his portion sizes, one meal at a time. Where he once ate 3 thick rotis (flatbread), he cut it down to 2 and 3/4ths, bringing this slowly down to 1 roti. His appetite therefore shrunk gradually. He used fruits to nip any sweet cravings he felt and eyed juices instead of aerated drinks. He walked, about a kilometer each day. “Our work has little exercise so that’s why I don’t make exercise [ a priority],” he says.

A day's menu
Breakfast: Omelette and bread
Lunch: One roti and vegetable/chicken curry
Dinner: One roti and vegetable/chicken curry
Snacks: Fruits such as apples, banana

This change in meal plans has brought about a huge change in Ali’s life, he says – he’s lost 32kg in 11 months.

All that cost him was determination, to change, and a conscious effort to clip meals.

Today, Ali is back to 65kg, fitting back into the clothes he came to Dubai in. It’s like the clock has turned back – the day is looking bright again.