Hussain Nasser Lootah, Acting Director-General of Dubai Municipality, presents the winner’s trophy to Ahmad Ebrahim Al Shiekh. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News

Dubai: Exercise and a change in diet is the way to go if you want to lose weight — that’s the motto for the winner of Dubai Municipality’s Lose Your Weight in Gold campaign.

Ahmad Ebrahim Al Shiekh, 27, an architect from Syria, won the first place in the campaign after he lost a total of 26 kilograms and received 63 grams of gold worth Dh10,048.

The campaign was launched by Dubai Municipality from July 19 to August 16, and as many as 2,648 winners received 16.82 kg gold worth Dh2.8 million.

Gold worth an approximate Dh2.8 million was distributed amongst the participants yesterday. Participants had to lose a minimum of two kilograms in weight to gain one gram for every kilo of weight lost. Those who lost five kilograms and above were eligible to get two grams of gold for each kilo, and three grams of gold for every kilogram for those who lost 10 kilograms and above.

Up to 575 residents lost less than two kilos, while 1,795 people lost between two-five kg, while 29 people lost over 15kg and five people lost over 20kg.

“I actually registered 15 days later in the campaign and was worried at first, because I thought I lost a head start to all the other contestants. I was initially planning to lose weight after Ramadan, but when my friends heard the campaign’s advertisement on the radio, they convinced me to join,” said Al Shiekh.

Al Shiekh, who weighed 146.7kg at the start of the campaign, ending up weighing almost 120kg due to sheer determination and strong will power.

In order to lose the excess weight, he first had to change his habit of eating out and buying junk food on a daily basis. Al Shiekh always had a battle with his weight, and was constantly looking on ways on how to improve his lifestyle. But with the help of his parents, friends and colleagues, that uphill battle was conquered and he now has his eyes set on losing more weight in months to come.

“I looked at youtube videos and searched for healthy diets on my own, and with the help of exercise, I lost more weight than expected. To lose the weight, I did an exercise routine, twice a day for one hour and 45 minutes, which consisted of steps and push ups. And when I got back home in the evening, I would walk the 16 flights of stairs to reach my apartment,” explained Al Shiekh.

“My friends and colleagues have also been of immense support when they found out I was trying to lose weight, so now I play football once a week and basketball twice every week as well,” he said.

“Going out with friends is still a challenge as it is very hard to stick to the diet, but so far I have been quite strict with myself and managed to order a salad while everybody else is eating hamburgers and fried food,” said Al Shiekh.

In second place of the biggest weight loss was Ragoonath Balasubramaniam, from India, who lost 23kg. He attributed the weight loss to solely switching to a healthier diet and hardly cooking his food with oil.

“I wasn’t eating a lot of junk food but all the food I had was deep fried with lots of carbohydrates, like rice. Since I started doing a daily exercise of brisk walking, I shed a lot of weight. I used to weigh 126kg but now I am 103.6kg and intend to lose more,” he said.

“I started the campaign while my wife and daughter were back home in India on holiday, and when she came back, she was so surprised to see the fit new me. Its hard to continue the diet when the family’s back home, but I will do my best to stick to it,” he added.

Baltaj Singh came in third place as he lost 22kg after he initially weighed in at 116.8kg.

“I ate only fruits and vegetables, and went out for jogging on a daily basis for about 45 days. I want to continue this new lifestyle because I feel so much healthier and my stomach has gone down a lot,” he added.