• Unhealthy eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle caused Shyam Kotecha to gain weight and feel lethargic.
• After committing to walking 12,000 steps per day and making a few simple diet changes, Kotecha started to rapidly lose weight.
• Fresh off a 24-pound weight loss transformation, he now feels healthier and more confident.
Shyam Kotecha had a familiar problem. Like a lot of guys, he found that graduating and getting a job left him with less time to focus on fitness and nutrition. The 26-year-old from Ealing, West London, was averaging more than ten hours a day sitting at his desk; eager to socialize and build a network, he was eating out three or four times a week, with little control over his diet. Without thinking about it, he’d fallen into a routine—and his waistline was showing it. “It’s only until the suit trousers stop fitting you,” he says, “do you start to pay attention and accept that you’re going down the wrong path.”
At his heaviest, he was about 163 pounds. More important than the number was how he felt: tired, lethargic, and moody. He felt slow just walking to the subway station; when he boarded, he always needed to sit. He’d long been a weight trainer, but one day he realized how out of shape he’d gotten. “I looked at myself in the mirror and it quickly dawned on me that I don’t even physically look like I go to the gym anymore,” he says. “That was a real kick in the teeth.”
To change his habits, Kotecha hired an online trainer through RNT Fitness. And he booked a photoshoot, figuring he’d be motivated by an impending shirtless photo session.
His trainer focused on getting back to being mobile throughout the day. In school, Kotecha had been hitting around 10,000 steps just in the course of a normal day. With a full-time job, he’d dropped to 2,000 to 3,000 per day. His trainer pushed him to 12,000 steps a day. “Until my transformation,” he says, “I did not realize how essential a component it is to keeping fit and healthy.”
Kotecha also adopted a more structured diet—no more mindless eating out—with tweaks along the way as his body changed. He weight-trained four times a week, splitting between upper and lower body workouts, with two cardio sessions interspersed.
He encourages anyone just getting started to savor the small wins every week, using them as motivation. He was lucky enough to also have a supportive girlfriend, though his family wasn’t initially as understanding. “I’m a first generation British-Asian and weight training is what I would describe as alien to our culture,” he says. “At first, my family were concerned about my health, as I had lost a lot of weight in a short time period. But once the dust had settled, they understood the work I put in. They saw me wake up at 5 a.m. to hit my step target and be disciplined to not be tempted by the cake or the croissants.”
Kotecha lost more than 24 pounds in 15 weeks. While the physical change is great, he’s even more pleased with the mental changes. “I gained this newfound confidence which pushed me to say yes to things that I would have otherwise said no to,” he says. “It gave me this belief that I could take on any challenge.”
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