VJ Nagender, 33, Regional Sales Manager from India shares his inspiring weight-loss adventure with Wellness World.
Starting Weight: 91kg | Current Weight: 80kg
Total Weight Loss: 11kg
Starting Waist: 98cm | Current Waist: 82cm
Total Waist Loss: 16cm
When did you become unhappy with your weight/fitness levels?
I was unhappy with my weight since June 2017 but I had become content with my body weight and the way I looked. It was actually in the beginning of December I started to push myself mentally to go to the gym and make lifestyle changes.
What made you decide to lose weight/ get fit?
I work in JLT and I use the metro to commute to work. The walk from my workplace to the metro is not even 6 minutes but after work, when I used to walk back to the metro – my back had actually started to hurt. It continued for another 2-3 days and the there came a day when the escalator wasn’t working and I had to climb around 40 stairs and I was out of breath by the time I reached the top. This was a wakeup call for me! That was when I decided I need to make a change.
List the most significant lifestyle changes you made to lose weight?
The most significant change I had to make is be ready mentally. Then I joined Project DXB as I had trained with Jack and Anna before and I knew all I had to do was work hard and results would soon follow.
What was the most demanding thing about your weight loss journey?
Initially I used to live in Karama and my gym was in JLT so I used to wake up every single day at 4am and catch the first metro of the day at 5:15am to reach the gym by 6am. I would finish my work out by 7:30am and head to work after; so traveling all the way from Karama, finishing the workout and then traveling to Abu Dhabi was quite challenging.
When did you begin seeing results?
I started seeing changes within 3 weeks where I started working out 4-6 days a week and started eating right by tracking the amount of carbs and protein intake. I gave myself a target of burning about 3000 calories per day which wasn’t difficult on most days of the week. I lost 4 kilos in about 3 weeks which motivated me to work harder.
How long did it take for you to reach your current weight/ fitness level?
When I started my training during Christmas, I was the heaviest that I had ever been where I piled on almost 22 kilos in 2 years. It took me about 5 months of consistent training and dedication to achieve the targets that I had initially kept for myself.
Tell us about your challenge and Mt. Elbrus?
Mount Elbrus is the 5th highest of 7 summits (the highest peak for each of the 7 continents) and is the 10th most prominent mountain in the world standing tall at a height of 18,510 feet.
It takes about 6-7 days to reach the summit and back and I can confidently say these were the 6 most challenging days in my life. The summit night was the hardest, with the weather being around -15 to -20 degrees and it took me over 10 hours to reach the summit.
On June 21, 2018 at 10:25am – my dream finally came true and it was surreal! I managed to climb the top of Mount. Elbrus and I spent about 20 minutes at the top and it was like being on another planet at a height of 18,510 feet. At that moment, I was higher than any of 750 million people of Europe.
This by far is the proudest moment of my fitness journey!
What is a typical eating plan for you?
My coaches Jack & Anna had designed an eating plan to help me realize my my fitness goals. I started with 5 meals a day – they were mostly high protein and low carb meals, enriched with eggs, lots of chicken, fruits and fish. My morning breakfast typically consisted of 4 egg whites and 1 whole egg, mushrooms and spinach. At around 11am, I would eat a handful of nuts. My lunch mostly consisted of grilled chicken, a small portion of rice and some lentil soup. I would snack on fruits or a can of tuna around 4pm and my dinner usually consisted of grilled fish. I would finish the day with a casein protein shake before bed.
How did your coaches keep you accountable?
My journey to Mt. Elbrus would not have been possible without the support of my coaches at Project DXB. They constantly motivated me to work and helped me become accountable on a regular basis. They would asses my body every two weeks to see what changes I need to incorporate in my training schedule and be accountable for my workouts. I can confidently say these guys are one of the best teams in UAE as they constantly motivate me to perform better, make every workout count, and take care of my body.
So what’s next?
After coming back from Mt. Elbrus, I took a break for a little while. I am back to my training now and my dream is to climb 7 summits around the world out of which I have already climbed 2 summits and have 5 more to go. I’m now hoping to climb Mount Aconcagua which is the 2nd highest mountain outside the Himalayas and it takes around 21 days to climb this mountain.
The costs for the whole expedition are quite expensive and hopefully someone would come forward to support my journey to reach my goals and inspire people across the world.
The Trainer’s Perspective
Coach Jack Graham
What weight training exercises does your client do?
Weight training is fundamental in all our training programmes. We tend to stick to the big compounds; Squats – Deadlifts – Pressing movements – and lots of pulling movements like Chin-ups and Rows. The correct coaching on form and loading tension through the correct muscles is essential to avoid an injury.
We always assess our client’s movement and regress exercises until we are happy for them to progress.
Back Squats could turn into Goblet squats or/ Split Squats
Chin Ups could turn into Inverted Rows or/ Banded Pull Downs
VJ can now Deadlift over 130kg.
What Cardio exercises did you advise for him?
We delivered all sessions to a high intensity and included some form of high-intensity Interval exercises within the strength programme. Our personal favorites are:
Kettle Bell Swings
In his own time, we told VJ to keep his activity away from the gym fairly low intensity in preparation for his challenge. We advised some incline walking sessions to increase his step count for the day, build stamina, and help his body recover better for the real training.
We had VJ target around 12,000-14,000 steps per day/ every day. With a typical desk job this meant he would have to make a real effort to get some extra movement in, generally after work. He would track this daily. This is known as NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) and can make a real impact on one’s body composition by increasing total daily calories burnt.
My Go-To Weight Loss Tips
Incorporate strength training sessions into the programme. Building muscle is key to longevity on a fat loss journey. Hitting big compound movements will activate more muscle tissue and increase muscle mass. More muscle mass requires more energy meaning you will burn more calories during your recovery through a heightened metabolism.
Manage your calorie intake. Understand how many calories you are currently eating daily. Track your food intake on My Fitness Pal and maintain a calorie and protein target consistently. You can then reliably make minor adjustments based on weekly progress.
Set a goal. It doesn’t have to be to climb the seven peaks. It could be a weight-focused goal, complete a 10km run in under a certain time, or to compete in any of the adventure races the UAE has to offer. Having a long term goal and breaking it down into bi-weekly/monthly targets will give you the little wins on the journey to keep you inspired and on track.
Increase NEAT. Walking is the most underrated form of exercise, but to someone who sits at a desk for 8hrs per day it can account for their daily calorie expenditure and help recovery too.
List the elements that have made working with your client a success?
The elements that have made this journey a success is the real drive and determination shown by VJ.
His commitment and respect for the process really inspired us too. The guy was up at 4am daily just to hit our class. When he started working in Abu Dhabi we adjusted his schedule and prioritised his training. We keep in touch with our clients regularly and sometimes that little acknowledgment that we are there for them really goes a long way in keeping them on the right path.
What have you learnt from this weight loss journey that is of value?
Too many people start strong but then don’t have the vision to continue past the 4-6 week mark. Building a lifestyle that complements what you are trying to achieve is essential, if you are surrounded by people who drag you back and derail you from your challenge, you need to put yourself in a new environment. This is something we aim to really create at the Project. We have developed a community of supportive people training and motivating each other as a team.
Also, excuses, kill them. We’re all busy and have distractions and work, you have to make it a priority. Even if that means scheduling your session at 6am before everything else kicks off. Just like VJ did.
About The Project DXB
The Project DXB specialise in athletic group training, bespoke personal training, and nutrition coaching. Based throughout Dubai we combine training, nutrition, and support into all of our programmes and host regular community events our clients can choose to take part in.
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