About a year ago, I got in contact with an extraordinary young man, he was only 18 years old when he and I started working together to take charge of his health. Little did I know the HUGE transformation that was happening before my eyes. His story is a textbook case of beating childhood obesity. This is Belal Nouredinne’s story, in his own words:
“To understand how I felt before I took charge of my health, it is necessary to understand what my life used to be like. When I was a young child, my parents got divorced. Not being old enough to deal with the emotional baggage that the divorce entailed, I took to eating junk food as a means of moderating my emotions. This went on for several years. I developed a monstrous sweet tooth, and a plethora of bad habits that contributed to me continuing my utterly unhealthy lifestyle. Suddenly, I was in the fifth grade, and I was wearing the same pant size as my dad, 34 men’s. Middle school was brutal to me. Girls did not want to talk to me, and coerced the guys in my classes not to talk to me either. I had no friends, no real life, only a passing of days and years in which I buried myself in my studies and yet more junk food. The junk food made me feel happy and warm, so I was oblivious to the havoc it was wreaking upon my body. A double chin, stretch marks, muffin top, ripped pants, high blood pressure, difficulty breathing were just the start. And for all of my troubles, physically and because of the consequences of my obesity, emotionally, I was still unaware that I was the sole cause of my pain. I did not realize that it was my fault for continuing to do this for myself. I was ignorant and blissful; I was without shame.
Throughout my childhood and the early parts of my adolescence, there were many things that should have been a wakeup call to me. My mother’s constant warnings to quit eating junk food should have saved me from my fate, but I ignored her and thought of her as a vain old woman. My own aversion to buying new clothes because I was deathly afraid that they would not fit me should have told me something was wrong, but I just pushed it out of my mind. The fact that I was 21 years younger than my father and wearing the same pant size as him should have told me something, but I chose not to listen. I even avoided mirrors for a long time so my own physical appearance would not be there to challenge my idea of food, the world, and myself. Something that gave me a shade of awareness to my ordeal was when I visited my doctor for my yearly physical and he told me that my blood pressure was so high, I would have to take high blood pressure pills for the rest of my life. The news disturbed me, and all of a sudden I began to wonder if maybe I was doing something wrong. I approached the dreaded mirror, and for the first time in years, looked into it honestly. I was horrified with what I saw; I was horrified with myself. In that moment I realized it had been I that made this be, it had been that I did not listen to all the warnings, it had been I that was wrong. In that moment, I realized it was only I that could save myself, and I would do it, no matter what.
Today, and every day since that fateful visit to the doctor, I have felt incredible, because I have cleaned up my diet and pursued one of the hardest workout programs in the world: Insanity. The thought of being truly in control of myself is so uplifting. I am aware of my body, aware of my eating habits, and most importantly, aware of my progress. At the visit to the doctor that changed my life, I was 17 years old, weighing 245 lbs. Now, as I type this, I am 19 years old, weighing 195 lbs. Not only have I lost a net 50 lbs, I have put on a large amount of muscle. I am four times as fast, can actually jump, and went from being unable to a single pushup, to being able to do 50 pushups without halt. In the last two years, I have grown about half a foot in height. At my worst, I was a size 38 in men’s. Now, I am a size 34. The awareness of these feats inspires me to keep on fighting to be even more fit, and my body, now so much leaner and stronger, gladly accepts the challenge. I am happier, in part because of my bettered physical condition, but mostly because I did it; I beat being overweight, and I will always have the tool to stay above it: my body.
The responses to my transformation have been just as incredible as my feelings about it. I receive a great deal of praise from my family members and old friends. People from my past are wowed by who I have become. Some do not even recognize me. The kindness directed toward me has been wonderful, especially when it comes from the new people I have met. As a 19 year old guy, I am not afraid to admit that it feels good when people check me out as I walk by. It’s a human thing, I believe, and I enjoy it. The best kind of feedback I have received has been people asking me for advice to help them achieve their own transformation. From friends, to family, and even my own doctor, people have come to me seeking advice because of my great results. They want to know how and why it happened. Even the doubters, even the people who cast me aside in my youth, because I was fat, have come asking for help. These responses and the attention inherent to them have made me feel like a hero, the hero of my own life.
All of my success, all of my improvement, my entire transformation could not have been possible without my beloved Beachbody coach and mentor, Veronica Dowdy. The core of physical activity has been the Insanity workout. I had been flirting around with it for a few months before I came into contact with Veronica. Soon after meeting Veronica, I found that my workouts were a lot more focused. Veronica was constantly sharing tips with me on how to eat healthy, giving me alternative healthier recipes to famous dishes, and answering all of my questions, both about diet and exercise. With Veronica guiding me, I saw that I was able to achieve more results from my workouts, had increased form, and a greater sense of power in my body. When I sustained a knee injury that stopped me from working out for several months, Veronica checked up on me and helped me stay fit even with my injury. I am much more knowledgeable about working out and healthy living because of Veronica’s guidance. I feel like I can effectively help others by the great example that has taught me so much.”