The thing I realised, says Abdul Bari Wahab when speaking of his dramatic 21kg weight-loss, is the only person standing between me and a better version of me is me.
The 14-year-old Pakistani expat says he’s always been fond of food. He’s always been overweight. He’s always told himself that it’s ok to be chubby. He’s always said losing weight is not his thing.
Always – until two months ago. When the COVID-19-induced restrictions left him at home bored and thoughtful, Wahab decided he wanted to change things for himself. “In this lockdown period I took this time to be a better person; cut out negative and focus on the positive,” he explains.
Earlier, he would justify his laziness; lack of exercise and portion control; his love for food. “‘I will start exercising tomorrow’ – that’s the attitude that made me large,” he said. And it made him uncomfortable when he headed out with his friends – he says his fashion sense was ‘out of date’. He attributes this to his weight.
But then, tired of making excuses, Wahab got moving. First, he asked his mum, who takes care of his meals, to help him cut out all the junk, excess carbs and fats from his diet. Then he asked her to help him up his protein intake.
Now that his food was sorted, it was time to exercise. “At first,” he says, “If I did anything, I would run out of breath in 5-10 mins.” But he kept at it.
His second trial came two weeks into the programme – there was no change in weight. “I said [to myself] it’s tough not impossible.” And he kept on going.
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“Slowly, I saw a change in myself. Then I felt more confident in myself,” he says.
Two months on, Wahab is 21kg down, i.e. from 98kg down to 77. “Today I feel 10 times better,” he says.
His stamina has grown; he now works out for about 1 hour 30 mins a day. “it’s mostly jogging and cardio.” But he is planning on building muscles next.
He is however quick to say, “Losing weight isn’t about looking good it’s about how you treat your body and your soul.” And to anyone wanting to follow his example, his message is : “Never give up.”
Breakfast: Cereal and two boiled eggs
Lunch: Boiled chicken or grilled chicken with vegetables. No rice in the beginning but now it’s been reintroduced into his diet.
Dinner: Yoghurt with fruit or low fat milk.
Snacks: Protein bars low on carbs, fruit
Cheat days: 1-2 times a week