This has been a year of unprecedented challenges, frightening fatality statistics and general negativity. But there’ll always be someone who can find light in a dark time.
One such person is Danish Shahzad Ahmad, a 25-year-old Dubai born and bred IT engineer. The five-foot six-inch Pakistani expat loved his food but a combination of stationary work behaviour and heavy handedness with portion sizes meant the years had added pounds to his frame. In March, he found himself at 93kg.
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Then COVID-19 hit and the pandemic put a stop to any activities that required socialization. Ahmad decided he would try sports to keep himself entertained but that idea soon wore him out. “I am a sports person and I was having trouble with it and also in [COVID-19 imposed movement restrictions] when there was negativity everywhere I thought [I would] to do something positive with myself. Then weight loss [came] to my mind and I started.”
It began with research. He began to read up on the Ketogenic diet that is high on fat and protein and has strict limits on cabs and sugar intake, forcing your body to produce ketones that burn fat.
“First I started with the Keto diet, where you have to eat eggs only in first week. It was really hard for me as I was feeling very dizzy and weak. [Later] I got used to it,” he says.
Ahmad calls fat a disease. It was one he was determined to beat. He began to exercise in conjunction with the diet. “At first I couldn’t run for [even] like 6-7 mins and push-ups [I could do] not more than 5 but now my stamina is increased and I can run for min 30 mins and do pushups around 45 at a time.”
The journey wasn’t as easy as he makes it sound. “There [were] some days when you wanted to quit and eat normally but you have to pick yourself up and continue,” he explains. “So I faced those days and I just assemble myself because I had to reach my target.”
Six months on, Ahmad is down 33kg. “I always believe if the destination if in sight, you can always achieve milestones. You just need to set a goal and you will achieve it. All you need is commitment and will.”
The 25-year-old may be enjoying his successes but he’s not taking any chances, he’s tweaked his diet but he’s maintaining healthy eating behaviours. “My current diet [is like this]: I take eggs without yoke in the morning, grilled chicken with one cup boiled rice or boiled vegetables in the afternoon and glass of low fat milk in the evening.”
The portion sizes of course were revised as the months wore on and the exercise regime he had was upgraded to include time at a gym. He hopes to change this to a more general framework of eating. “Next is eat whatever I want but should not exceed calories per day which is 1,800. And build muscles in the body.”
The gym work and an uptake in protein, Ahmad is positive, will help him tighten the small amounts of loose skin that the dramatic weight loss has left him with.
It’s a new challenge on the horizon, but Ahmad is sure he’ll get there.