Sheikh Usama
Sheikh Usama before (left) and after Image Credit: Supplied

Just breathe, they say, just breathe. But what do you do when it’s the air that becomes hard to consume; when easy steps become a bother; when in a race you know you’d come last so you find yourself not participating?

For Sheikh Usama Yamin, a 178cm-tall Pakistan expat, it was this discovery of weakness in the most basic of things that shifted his perspective. He was 118kg at the time and had been a yo-yo dieter for much of his life. “I used to diet for around 10-12 days and then again I used to start eating,” he explains in an interview with Gulf News.

But that first month in university back in 2017 was hard. “I don’t know what changed my routine, but out of nowhere I started dieting so punctually that after 8pm I didn’t eat anything,” he says.

The now 21-year-old began with some internet-research, where he came across a detox water recipe that he now swears by. He has drunk the pre-breakfast mix of mint leaves, lime juice and a cucumber each morning with cold water every morning since then.

Meal plan
Breakfast: 2 boiled eggs, only whites + 2 slices of toasted white bread + tea without sugar

4-5 hours later: Salt crackers (about 8-10) and walnuts

Lunch: Boiled lentils/boiled chicken and 2 rotis

Evening: Tea, no sugar. Protein bar

Dinner, before 8: Cornflakes with skimmed milk + a tumbler of green tea.

The first couple of months, says Yamin, he was annoyed. Annoyed because he couldn’t eat the way he used to, he couldn’t sample what guests in his home did. He could not eat his favourite foods. The night ended with pangs of hunger blanketed by darkness. There was no respite. Slowly, after two months or so things began to settle down. His stomach shrank, his weight dropped by 7-8kg. “I was motivated by that,” he says.


When he had lost about 26-27kg, in early 2018, he decided to begin to gym. This turned out to be NOT such a good idea. While he had incorporated some walking and being active in his life, going to the gym seemed to stall his progress; even though all he did were cardio-based exercises, his weight seemed to be on a sluggishly downward path. Two months into this exercise, he quit and returned to his earlier routine.

At the end of 9 months, he had lost 40kg. There is loose skin alright, but other troubles such as breathing issues and low energy levels are a thing of the past.

Sheikh Usama Yamin is now researching how to get taut skin. Oh, and he's ready to race you to any finish line.