Abdul Salu before (left) and after
Abdul Salu before (left) and after Image Credit: Supplied

“There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

― Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling

For 34-year-old Abdul Salu, the test of his resolve came three months into his fitness journey. The 172cm-tall father of two was in a bit of a flux: he had lost about 7kg, but then his progress had stalled. Cue the laughter of friends, who said: “You are doing all this, but you are losing very little,” recalls Salu in an interview with Gulf news.

He says: “I [had] already set my mind [to losing weight]; whatever it comes, I [would] reach my goal.”

Salu recalls the days of plenty, when he didn’t mind eating whatever he wanted. The only road bump was the look of despair in the mirror every time he went to a clothing store: his choices were relegated to the XL sections and even those sometimes didn’t sit right.

A talk with a health-conscious friend started Salu thinking in a new direction. He decided on a calorie-deficit approach. “I always kept a deficit of 500 calories,” he recalls, adding that all calculations of macros, of diet, of plans were Google-aided. For the first three months, he boosted his metabolism by eating light, small portions of healthy food.

The three-month plan
Morning:5-7 almonds and glass of water
After 30 minutes: a cup of black coffee
1 hour later: Vitamin C

Mid-morning snack: A small green apple
One hour later: A bowl of oats (about 80-100g), no milk.
Lunch: Grilled chicken or fish + 1 slice of multi-cereal bread

Post lunch: green tea

Evening snack: Green apple (small size)

Night: 2 eggs.

These measures – the vigilant eye on time and portion sizes – however were not appreciated by his friends, who riled him for running hard but getting nowhere. Salu, undeterred, just considered it time to head to the next step.

He added cardio to his workouts. “[In the] initial days, I was [walking] doing 1-2 km. In three months I was [running] a lap of 400m around 10 times,” he says. He would do this six times a week, with a break in the middle. The weight slowly melted off.

The next step, says Salu, was introducing dumbbells and body-weight exercises to the mix. “I [would] warm up, do some stretches. Then I started to bring in some dumbbells and all these things. When I started [my] workout [at home], I always worked on my stomach [for] 25-30 mins,” he says. This began to give his stomach some contours.

And with the change in activity level, Salu began to up his calorie game.

Current meal menu
Morning: Almonds and a glass of water

Breakfast: Brown bread and zaatar

Lunch: Salad and grilled chicken/fish

Evening: Almonds

Dinner: 3-4 Chapattis with meat/fish curries and veges. Maybe an avocado.

Salu, who began his journey in July of 2018 at 97kg, has slimmed down to 68kg. He has six-pack abs. He is eyeing Mixed Martial Arts. He’s just been on one adventure trip – to the Maldives – and is already looking at another, high energy holiday.

Abdul Salu in the Maldives
Abdul Salu view of the world has changed, he says.

“I’m more active,” says Salu, and it’s meant a real change in his relationship with his children and his peers. “Before, when I was coming back from duty I was just tired. In a week maybe one time I [took] my kids out. Now, I’m active. My brain is active.”

It’s also meant a happy-go-lucky attitude that leaves naysayers stumped for comebacks. “My attitude also changed. Before I was shy type of person, maybe because inferiority about body, but now [responding to people] it’s nothing,” he explains.

Simply put, what has this new lifestyle given him? Everything.

“I am a new person,” he says.