Dubai: There are several people who turned to healthy habits and focused on fitness during the prolonged stay-home period due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
While many have failed to stick to their new healthy regime and gone back to their old routine after the lockdown, an Indian expat in Dubai has a different story to share.
Baiju Chaliyil, 45, is flaunting a six-pack body and has just finished participating in the 50th edition of the prestigious New York City Marathon.
On Friday, Baiju finished the 10km Dubai Run in 45minutes and 40 seconds. He participated in the run along with his two children. He said it was a proud feeling to take part in the run with Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, and tens of thousands of fitness enthusiasts.
A Dubai resident for 16 years, Baiju said he had started his fitness journey in October 2020. At that time, his weight was 83kg and body fat percentage was 37, he told Gulf News.
As the managing partner in a prominent technical service company, Baiju was a frequent flyer. “I used to travel a lot for business, but I got stuck here during the pandemic. I was too depressed like many people around the world. I started getting fat. I was demotivated and felt short of energy. Soon, I realised that it was going to be really bad for my health if I continued like that. That is when I started focusing on my health and fitness,” he explained.
What he did to transform himself
Baiju said he had set a goal to transform his body with a shredded physique. “One of my friends, Ranesh, introduced me to a personal trainer at a gym. His Name is Javed and I had another trainer called Majeed Femi. They both helped me to achieve my fitness goal and I am so thankful to them.”
It took him almost eight months to achieve his dream physique.
“I started slowly by doing 45 minutes of strength training and 30 minutes of cardio exercises afterwards.” He added: “If you want to bring about a transformation through weight loss, the key is your diet,” he pointed out.
Hence, Baiju started eating healthy and bid goodbye to junk food. He said he struck a balance by following a health regime focusing on 60 per cent diet, 20 per cent workout and 20 per cent rest.
Minimum of six to eight hours of sleep
“Taking rest is as important as diet and exercise. If you don’t give enough rest to your body, you won’t see any result. A minimum of six to eight hours of sleep is required for your body to perform well for your daily routine. The diet I followed was low carb and high protein,” he explained.
Being a foodie was the biggest challenge that Baiju had to face.
“Hailing from Kerala, it was too hard for me to give up all my favourite calorie-loaded south Indian food items. But if you really want to achieve something extraordinary in your life, you should remain determined and focused. You might have to give up a lot of things. That is a lesson that I learned from my fitness journey.”
Three months to a noticeable result
Baiju had decided to be patient to see the result. “I started slow and it took almost three months for me to see any noticeable result. I would say the first three months is the window period, during which you have to stay focused and keep pushing — even if you do not see any significant result. But most people give up during this period.”
Patience pays off
“It took eight months for my six-pack abs to be visible. By that time, my body fat percentage had dropped 30 per cent to just seven per cent and my weight had reduced to 63kg,” Baiju said. It was a dream-come-true moment for him. “This journey taught me patience and helped me overcome my laziness. Now I am very energetic and I can focus more on my business.”
He has shared the progress of his fitness journey on social media and inspired some of his friends and his own son to reduce weight.
“I helped many people, including my son, to start their fitness and healthy lifestyle journey. My son, who is now 15, was overweight. Watching my progress, he got inspired and slowly started following me. He was 74kg, but had reduced to 61kg. My friend, Sumesh, who lives in China, got inspired by seeing my WhatsApp status updates on a daily basis and started his healthy lifestyle journey. He has reduced by almost 24kg in eight months.”
On to running
Baiju wanted to keep the momentum going on. “I didn’t want to stop after getting my six packs. So, I decided to try something different and that brought me to running marathons.”
‘One of the dream marathons’
He said he was thankful to Dubai Government for building lots of jogging and running tracks in the emirate where people like him can train easily.
Having run many half marathons, Baiju decided to break a sweat in the 50th edition of New York City Marathon that was held on November 7.
“I prepared for the marathon at the Kite Beach running track in Jumeirah. The New York City Marathon is one of the dream marathons for many runners around the world and I was lucky enough to secure one of the limited slots,” said Baiju who got back to Dubai last week.
In his first full marathon, Baiju touched the finish line in four hours and 11minutes.
“Finishing my first international full marathon is a great achievement for me. I am happy that this has happened during the Dubai Fitness Challenge,” said Baiju.
Baiju’s next big target is participating in the ‘Iron Man 70.3 Dubai Triathlon’ which is scheduled to take place in March 2022.
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Sample of Baiju’s daily diet
Breakfast: At 8am, seven egg whites, 50g oats boiled in water (no sugar, no milk).
Pre-Lunch: At 11am, 200g chicken breast boiled or grilled, along with one bowl green salad.
Lunch: At 2pm, 50g boiled brown Basmati rice and 200g chicken boiled or grilled.
Evening snack: Almonds or green apple, along with black coffee (no sugar added).
Dinner: At 8pm, tuna salad or chicken salad in a small bowl.
Also, a minimum of three to four litres of water daily.