Vimay Patel, 36, from Dubai, shares his "life-changing" body transformation journey.
My lifestyle took a massive turn in the last three years; I was always someone who was active, doing exercise and playing football, and then I stopped altogether. Simply put, I fell out of love with training. That, coupled with going out, partying, eating junk food, and a hectic workload, meant I just stopped paying attention to my health. I thought I could keep doing what I was doing in the past and get away with it. I realised during the COVID pandemic that I could not.
In the height of the lockdown, I saw my body change from the lack of physical activity, and I felt my body get heavier. Here in Dubai, ordering food is at the tip of your fingers, and for months I was not making the right food choices. I was so reluctant to buy scales to face the reality that I was getting heavier and out of shape. It’s safe to say it crept up on me slowly, but now with the benefit of hindsight, the weight gain did happen fast. Every day it was, “I will start next week … I will start soon.” but it never happened. I looked in the mirror and realised how bad I had let myself go. Even though I was working like a machine at work and not being active, mentally I thought this was the norm, my all-round health and wellbeing was just terrible.
At my heaviest, I felt sluggish and slow. My sleep was massively impacted as I was averaging four to five hours a night. At the time you think it’s all good, but you just don’t see how bad this affects performance at work and moods.
I went to play football with some friends in late 2020, some of whom who were generally in worse shape than me in the past . I found I was being outrun by them, I felt unfit and generally did not feel good. I started to feel out of breath by just bending over tying my shoelaces, walking up the stairs, and it was at this point it hit me hard, that I come from a family who has a history of heart issues and diabetes. I realised I needed to fix myself.
I went back to the UK in the summer of 2020, and the first thing my dad said to me was ‘Vimay you’ve put some weight on, you need to look after yourself’. This was coming from a 69-year-old man who had stopped smoking, was walking every day and eating better to control his blood sugar levels. I woke up one day and said to myself if my dad, who is almost 70, can do this, I also needed to sort myself out too. It was in October 2020 that I decided enough was enough; I bought some scales and saw that my average weight of 80kgs (176 pounds) hit a high of 90kgs (198 pounds) – I knew I had to make a change. It was then when I came across Ultimate Performance Dubai and decided to go in for a consultation.
I felt straight away this is the environment I want to be in, a place I could achieve my long term goals. When I decided to sign up, I was assigned to my PT Goran Tololeski – and straight away from the moment I met him I knew it was going to be an intense and serious commitment on both parts. From the initial meeting, Goran asked me what I wanted to achieve, I replied ‘I want to get healthy’. I thought we would run through the general process of body fat readings and stuff like that, but Goran had me straight on the gym floor testing my mobility, my strength, how my body moved and my general all round health condition. After he assessed all of those things he formulated a diet and work out plan; he gauged my commitment to the diet and how much extra activity I would do all from that session which were factored into the plan. What I liked was there was no numbers or body fat readings; the initial goal was to lose some weight and take it from there.
The first phase of my transformation was the initial 8 weeks where I was put through some very intense full body work outs, which involved walking 16,000 steps everyday along with additional bike rides on training days. I kept to a clean diet with calculated calories based on my activity levels. The plan was to lose 1kg (just over 2 pounds) per week and Goran and I succeeded with this, I lost almost 9kg (20 pounds) in 8 weeks!
For the second phase, Goran changed my diet and workouts, incorporating more calories (I was eating more carbs, blowing the myth that carbs were bad). The workouts always were focused on big lifts and hitting big muscle groups twice a week – they were some of the hardest sessions I have ever done; but that was the plan to go hard every hour I trained. Over the months I saw how diet plays a massive part in partnership with your training and daily step target. Goran made sure I stuck to it and was held accountable.
My body began to feel better, more energetic and I was sleeping better as a result of a better diet. I was noticing that I was sharper at work, more effective and alert. One thing I have always enjoyed is food and therefore it was hard at first not just scoffing down anything but the moment I signed up to UP I knew I had to stick with it to get the results. With all the social distractions and offers for dinners to eat out, it takes a serious amount of discipline to stay on track. During my transformation, Goran was exceptional at identifying when to switch up my diet, the closer we got to the end goal he was able to tell that I needed more calories and planned refeed days which worked perfectly well getting me to my final results. It was all calculated and timed perfectly to get the very best results that I was able to achieve. From this whole process I have learnt so much about diet and how it impacts your overall body composition; even post my transformation I have learnt how to manage my diet properly having a well-balanced lifestyle without it impact my training.
I have learned loads from stuff I felt I already knew. My whole outlook on training, diet and lifestyle has completely changed. When it comes to training, my technique and understanding time under tension and making sure you do quality reps has definitely got better. I am able to follow a program on my own and make sure I put in a good workout, even when I’m travelling because I have the understanding of how to train better. Growing up we all want to lift heavy and throw weights around, but what I have really improved on is making sure my form is correct for optimal results and pushing beyond limits without causing injury.
In total, I lost 27.5kgs (60 pounds) and got down to around 12% body fat. Honestly, I am blown away by my results, never in a million years did I expect to get this far – it has really changed my life! My overall health and wellbeing has improved massively; I did some blood tests before and after my transformation and the results are remarkable. My health was a massive incentive to get fit and healthy, and seeing my resting heart rate going from the 80s to the low 50s has been a great personal achievement. I am sharper, fitter and able to push more and more in the sports I play.
Another factor that has improved is my sleep, which was something I struggled with in the past. What was also impressive was seeing the impact my journey had on my parents, I bought them FitBits for Christmas and they have been achieving their daily step targets since! It’s made me proud knowing they are well and keeping healthy – they make no excuses and it seems to run in the family. If you want to get results you need to put the work in and be consistent, that’s something my parents have taught me from a young age. During this whole journey I have really just come out of it a new person, with a new mind-set and enjoying life more and more.
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