A healthy lifestyle is a lifelong commitment. Mark Bulos shares his weight loss story from Saudi Arabia.
Submitted by Mark Bulos
It all started in the year 2011 when I decided to work abroad as a registered nurse here in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia. Working and living independently was hard. Finding time to prepare meals was especially hard because I was used to eating at home when I was in the Philippines.
I resorted to eating out and buying fast food or on-the-go food. When cooking in my apartment, most of what we ate were kind of fatty. I didn’t have control over the food I ate and it never crossed my mind to go to the gym. I got fat—to the point that I was obese. Time went by and I still didn’t control myself. I ate a lot with no exercise. I used to run but I got easily tired and I soon lost interest in it. To avoid exercise, I would always make excuses like “I don’t have time”, “I’m tired”, and “I’m not interested”. I would even eat unhealthy food late at night on my sofa.
I took a vacation back in the Philippines. I was so excited to eat Filipino food, and yes! Lost all control again. I binge ate and added my vices with alcohol. I didn’t care about myself before. My friends would tell me that I’d gotten so fat but I didn’t care. I was even in denial about it.
In the year 2015, I came back to the Middle East to work again. I had a good friend who was health conscious and into working out. He told me with full honesty that I don’t look good ever since I gained weight. I was weighing in at 98 to 100 kg at the time. My self-confidence was at an all-time low. I was depressed that I couldn’t wear the clothes that I wanted to wear, and I didn’t like how I looked in the mirror.
In August 2015, I decided to do something for myself. My baseline weight at the time was 99 kg. What I did first was ask my friend for health tips, and personally did my own research. I researched about healthy food and tips about losing weight. In my research, I heard about Erwan Heussaff—I followed him on Instagram and read his blog. I watched a lot of YouTube videos on how to lose weight. From there, I became particular about the food I was taking in.
I became more conscious of the food I was buying in the grocery. I started to cut out rice, and it was very hard for my body to adjust to it. I was eating salads most of the time—a lot of fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and tuna. It was really hard but I knew I needed to do it.
I lost some weight, weighing in at 85 kg. I was very happy about it, and people were noticing that I was losing weight. I became more inspired and continued the healthy eating until I reached 80 kg. But by this time, I was having a hard time because I started to plateau. I stopped losing weight and thought that this was the most I could lose.
In mid-September 2015, I started to go the gym. At first I was so shy because I wasn’t confident and still very conscious of my new surroundings. I was afraid and thought that I couldn’t do it. The people in the gym were in such good shape that I felt inferior. But I told myself that if they can do it, so can I. I sought help from one of the coaches in the gym.
I did a lot of cardio at first: treadmill, ladder, and the bike. I was about to give up because it was so tiring and difficult, but I continued. While still maintaining my proper diet and with regular visits to the gym, I dropped to 75 kg. I was very happy with the results. From there, I started to take supplements and whey protein to help with muscle restoration and recovery.
I became health conscious ever since. I was strict with my diet and continued to go hard in the gym. As they say, when you see results in your body after working out, you’ll get addicted. It’s true—I lost more weight until I reached 66 kg.
My trainer told me to start building muscle, so I started programs with upper and lower torso exercises with his help. I started to do some body building too. I had sore muscles all the time but I didn’t quit.
The proper diet and commitment to going to the gym helped me a lot in achieving my desired body goals. I was so overwhelmed with the results and it inspired me even more. My current weight is now 70 kg with good muscle mass percentage and low body fat percentage. I currently go to the gym 5 days a week and maintain a proper diet.
One thing I learned from this journey is that if you really want to lose weight, willingness to do so is a must. You must put your heart in it. With self-determination and commitment, you will achieve your goal. Of course, you must also have self-discipline. Don’t make excuses—if they can, you can as well. And don’t regret treating yourself at least once a week for all the hardships you’ve been through. You can eat some kind of cheat meal as a reward.
Get inspired and be an inspiration to others as well. The saying goes, don’t stop when you are tired, stop when you are done. And I’m not done yet. I still have a long way to go and it will be a lifelong commitment to myself.
If you’re struggling to lose weight, know that first, you must be disciplined. If you want it, you must work for it. Eat healthy and exercise. Commit to yourself and stay dedicated. Don’t compare yourself with others. We all have individual goals and don’t focus too much on numbers. Work hard and for sure you will see results and will thank yourself you did it. And lastly, motivate yourself all the time. Remember, if they did it, you can do it too!
Top 10 Weight Loss Tips:
1. Personally, I don’t eat rice at all. I cut it because carbs turn into sugar.
2. Avoid eating sweets (ice cream, cakes, chocolates). They aren’t good sources of fat.
3. Eat more fruits and vegetables, it really helps!
4. Eat more protein (lean meat, fish, and chicken breast)
5. Fitness is not just about dieting. Exercise regularly. Do a lot of cardio. Sweat out all those toxins and fats. You will really see a difference.
6. No sodas/soft drinks. Drink plenty of water to hydrate your body.
7. Go to the gym. Start with cardio, and later on you can consult with your coach regarding your body goal (gaining mass/building muscle).
8. Don’t focus too much on numbers. Focus on your routines and gym assignment.
9. Have commitment and dedication to lose weight. Put your heart in it. It’s like a relationship. Engage yourself to healthy eating and regular excercise.
10. And lastly, it’s never a sin to treat yourself once in a while. You can have open day to reward yourself for doing such hard work. Fitness is life.