Kashif Qayyum
Kashif Qayyum before (left) and after Image Credit: Supplied

Humans by-and-large have an aesthetic need – they want to look their best. For Kashif Qayyum, it was a niggling necessity; when he would look in the mirror, he’d flinch and quickly look away. “When I used to look in the mirror I usually used to hate myself,” he says in an interview with Gulf News. This was a result of overindulgence since coming to the UAE – it had only been 3 years but the pace of life accompanied by the lack of cooking skills meant he was quickly gaining chubbier cheeks than he was comfortable with.

The 5-foot-11-inch Pakistani expat decided when he reached 90kg in January 2019 that he would change things.


“My initial goal was to look slim and lose my initial weight,” he says. But there was little research involved in all this – instead, he decided, he would cut down on his food drastically. It’s a move that he says over and over, he would not suggest to anyone.

Initial meal plan
Breakfast: 500ml skim milk and a handful of almonds
Mid-morning: Green tea, no sugar, just lemon
Lunch: ½ roti with chicken/fish/vegetable gravy in office
Evening: Green tea with lemon
Dinner at 6pm: ½ roti with chicken/fish/vegetable gravy in office

In three months, Qayyum was down about 18kg. “My only focus was to lose my weight – in a couple of days I lost 2kg; in 15days I lost 4 kg like that and people were telling me oh you look slim and that was motivating me and keeping me uptight,” he recalls. He didn't explain any tough days, batting each question away with the word focus.

Soon, he was a lean 70kg. And this was a problem, mostly because it meant people coming up to him and asking if he was ill. His skin had lost its glow – it had turned a malnourished-dry grey. His fair began to thin in previously unseen ways. Worried, he sought the help of Dr Internet. “It has to be fat loss rather than weight loss; this difference I understood after a few months,” he now explains. He slowly began to build his muscle and after three months of no cheat meals, he nipped at some favourites once a week. His diet also went an overhaul.

On the menu today
Pre-workout drink before gym
Come back from gym, eat protein shake
After 1 hour: Banana
1 hour later: coffee with milk no sugar.
10.30: 5 eggs: 1 whole and 4 whites, all boiled
1pm: either chicken grilled 1 piece/1 chicken paratha
3pm: Coffee
7pm: 500ml of whole milk with scoop of protein.

His workout routine has also expanded. “I continuously go for 4 days [to the gym] then take a break for one day,” he explains. He spends 1.5 hours a day at most in the gym.

The exercise plan now goes like this:

Day 1: Chest and back

Day 2: Arms, biceps and triceps

Day 3: Tri-ups and shoulders

Day 4 legs

Day 5: Rest

Scheduled in supersets

Alternate day cardio (15 mins) – speed on 6, incline on 6 - and abs

Today, while he isn’t looking to buff up any more, he is happy that his fat percentage is down to 10.

“When I used to look in the mirror I usually used to hate myself,” recalls Qayyum.

A year on, everything is different. He's met his need for aesthetic change.