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It began with a stomach ache that wouldn’t seem to go away; the next few days were a lesson in pain. Muhammad Dilshad ended up in a hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, hooked up to machines. He was in the ICU, unable to breathe.
A few months earlier in 2017, the UAE-based businessman had found himself embarrassed at his local mosque. He was unable to bend and pray properly, because of his girth. At the age of 27, Dilshad weighed 196kg. He decided to do something about it and while on a family trip back to Pakistan, he looked up a weight-loss specialist. The doctor gave him some appetite suppressants and for a while they worked. Steadily he began to drop that mass – going down to 155kg – before the real pain pangs began. As did his stint in hospital.
“When I got admitted in hospital, at that time I [thought], ‘I have three kids’. I have three daughters,” he says in an interview with Gulf News. “When my daughters came in front of me that’s when I decided I have to lose my weight for my kids…I have to take care of them. If I’m dead, what’s next?”
Step one was getting rid of the medication. “When I stopped his medicine, my weight goes back [up to] 202kg,” he says.
Realizing he needed a change, Dilshad began a new routine. “A doctor told me, he’s one of my best friends in Lahore, it will take like 3-4 years to lose your weight.” He also prescribed a simple eating plan.
“First of all I stopped eating everything. On October 28, [when] I started [my journey in 2018] – I’m just drinking water, fresh juices. In the first 2 weeks I just had fresh juices, like fresh grapefruit juice in the morning and after 2 weeks I changed my diet. One glass of fresh grapefruit in the morning; then at 10am, 2 boiled eggs (only the whites).” He would skip lunch and at 6pm, drink another glass of juice.
“I was committed,” he repeats though out our talk.
He also began short walks – one kilometer at a time, in Al Mamzer Beach.
But, of course, the journey to a slimmer him wasn’t that simple. The first month brought discomfort – “It hurts in the first month; I was feeling some pain I wasn’t able to walk and then after that after a month it gets used to.”
And four months later, he had a blackout. He had just driven home after a long day at work and parked the car. He got out of the vehicle – and slumped. The next 15 minutes, he says, are a blur. He recalls: “I go to the doctor. He tells me, your BP is down, you have to eat something. From that day I started eating some nuts, like almonds, after that I start taking the salads.”
He also began to slowly extend his exercise time. “In the start, doctor told me, if you don’t exercise with the diet, you will face a huge problem with skin sagging.” Today, Dilshad walks 8km every day and he spends an hour at the gym.
In the beginning, he left his family behind in Lahore for a few months, he says, this was a strategic maneuver. “If I was with my family, maybe sometimes I have to eat with them,” he sheepishly admits. When his family did return from their sojourn in May this year, Dilshad had been on the programme for almost 7 months. And while they had being seeing photos, he says, they were surprised by how different he looked. It was a great motivator; he went on to get fitter.
Dilshad now weighs 126kg and is eying his pre-wedding number of 95-100kg. He says the journey has taught him about commitment and human fortitude, and he’s encouraging members of his own family to get onboard the health-is-wealth train. He encourages physical games – “not online ones” – for his tiny tots. And finds himself in a friendly rivalry. His wife has begun walking – it would not do to have him shrink without her after all.