He weighed 132kg because of bad eating habits, a lazy lifestyle and the unwillingness to make healthier choices in life.
Battling obesity, depression and unemployment at a young age of 22, Indian expat Harsh Shambwani’s future looked bleak.
He weighed 132kg because of bad eating habits, a lazy lifestyle and the unwillingness to make healthier choices in life. It wasn’t until he visited his doctor in 2017 that he decided it was time for a change.
At that time, he was found to be suffering from high cholesterol and about to be put on heavy medication.
“I’ve been gaining weight since I was 12 or 13 years old. After that, I never tried to get it down. By the time I graduated from college, I was 132kg.
“It was mainly because of lifestyle habits, sleeping late, eating unhealthy, especially foods with a lot of oil,” the Dubai resident told Khaleej Times.
That one visit to the hospital, though, altered his perspective.
He started going to the gym and eating healthier. Since that day, he has lost 35kg. Now, he weighs 97kg at age 24.
“When I saw my doctor, I said I have to do this – I have to get healthier,” Shambwani said.
“The first month, though, I felt very depressed. I flew to the US and stayed there with my brother. But when I came back, I immediately started my new lifestyle.
For Shambwani, the journey hasn’t been easy but he kept going.
“There were many things that motivated me. I still remember how I faced constant bullying. People used to tease and judge me. I got rejected from a lot of job interviews because of my weight.
“When I was in boarding school and started gaining more weight, I knew I should do something about it, but I didn’t and got teased more. During my engineering days, I was teased by a lot of seniors to a point where I couldn’t just take it anymore, so I didn’t go to college for a few days.”
Starting the journey
He started his fitness journey in October 2017, when he joined a nearby gym. In early 2018, he joined MetroFit and hired a personal trainer.
Shambwani was working out two to three hours every day and was put on a keto diet. He was not allowed to consume sugar for three and half months.
“At that point, there was no looking back. I was looking for a job, and my motto was go to the gym in the morning, then go for a walk in the afternoon and follow my diet, just stay active and drink more water,” he said.
After seeing his transformation, his friends have been very supportive, motivating him to keep going.
“I still need to lose another 20 to 25kg, but I am a bit confident now when I look in the mirror,” Shambwani added.
‘Fitness is a family affair’
Uneiza Mohammad Rassul from Mozambique is a yoga instructor and she is thrilled to see how the Dubai Fitness Challenge has been motivating many to seek a more active life.
She has confidently accepted the challenge and encourages her husband and three-year-old daughter to get involved, too.
“I’ve been into fitness for quite a while. It started when I went into postpartum depression in 2016 and yoga really helped me with that, definitely,” said Rassul, who holds classes for pre-natal yoga.
“Yoga has so many benefits, whether mental or physical health. I’ve got women of all ages as students, who are suffering from mental disorders or physical injuries. It caters to everyone.
“I have a page on Instagram (bms.fit) and I motivate people, pointing out that fitness is about mental health and physical health. There is a need for awareness. Majority of people still need to learn about the importance of fitness.”
For Rassul, fitness is also a family affair. So her young daughter and husband will be joining her in the run on the Sheikh Zayed Road on Friday.
She said it’s important to be a role model for youngsters, in terms of living a healthy life.
“You have to instil this in them when they are young. They are used to the fast food and that kind of lifestyle. You have to make fitness fun and you can’t make it boring. My daughter and I take the stairs instead of the lift, and I take her to the park instead of the cinema,” Rassul added.
Four things to do on November 7, 2019
1-Go Tarzan for a day
Experience an adventure in the trees, cross high rope obstacles and leap off Tarzan Swings while enjoying the scenery
What: High Ropes Obstacle Course
Where: Aventura Parks, Mirdif
2-Dance to the rhythm of Bollywood
Get fit with a lot of cardio set to a fun Bollywood playlist
What: Bollyfit By Dans
Where: Dubai Festival City
3-Take kids to a karate session
Get your children up to speed with basic punches, kicks and self-defence techniques
What: Kids Karate
Where: Sustainable City
4-Release all the tension
Relax your muscles and do breathing exercises with the help of a wellness coach
What: Pranayama session
Where: The Retreat Palm Dubai
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