Tanzanian football fan Thani Alghafry has won more than Dh11,000 ($2,995) in prize money after shedding a third of his body weight in a get-fit challenge staged by RAK Hospital, in Ras Al Khaimah.
Weighing in at 110kg, the 42-year-old office worker was inspired to get in shape after seeing others slim down in a previous anti-obesity drive overseen by the hospital.
Just two months after starting a diet of fruit, vegetables and water — paired with three hours of exercise a day — Mr Alghafry now tips the scales at 73kg.
Losing 37kg won Mr Alghafry top prize in RAK Hospital’s annual weight loss challenge.
The challenge sets out to inspire people to live a healthier life and avoid obesity associated problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
“It is not easy to lose this amount of weight unless you are committed,” said Mr Alghafry, who is married and has a 19-year-old daughter. He lives in Al Qusais in Dubai.
“I have always exercised, but never to the extent of the past two months.
“It was three times a day, for an hour each time without a rest day, and I ate mainly fruit and vegetables, with only occasional fish, meat and rice.
“I would ride for an hour every day at home on my static exercise bike, and also skip for 500 rotations on four or six occasions each day, depending on how I was feeling.”
During the challenge he would have green tea and a boiled egg for breakfast, and then watermelon and an apple for lunch.
In the evening he ate cooked vegetables most nights and cut out oily and sweet foods with sugar, while drinking two litres of water every day.
The one downside of losing so much weight is that few of Mr Alghafry's old clothes now fit him. The cash prize, however, will help him splash out on a new wardrobe.
“My office in Dubai Tower in Nasser Square is on the 28th floor, so taking the stairs each day also helped me to lose weight,” said Mr Alghafry, who loves football and supports Manchester City.
“I have shown if you want something badly enough you can do it.
“I used to play football three times a week with a Tanzanian team and it was hard work.
“Now, I can run harder and faster than before.”
The weight and body mass index of participants were recorded at the beginning of the challenge, with the final weigh-in on March 18 and March 19.
Entrants either visited RAK Hospital or sent weight-loss certificates attested by their local clinics.
In total, contestants in the RAK biggest weight loss challenge lost a combined 576kg in excess weight.
The eight-week challenge began on January 20, and two other men each lost about 34kg.
Masood Rasheed managed to shed 34.5kg, while Muhammad Antash Ali lost 33.9kg.
In the women’s category, Noha Metwally Ali Allam lost 24.7kg, while Jilsheena Palakka shed an impressive 18.3kg. Third place went to Seham Abdulrahman Al Daher Al Dairi who lost 17.4kg.
In the corporate event category, a team from the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Beach Resort collectively lost 64kg.
“Obesity is the biggest pandemic of our times and a risk factor leading to various chronic and deadly diseases,” said Dr Raza Siddiqui, executive director of RAK Hospital.
“We think it’s our greatest responsibility to support people, understand the consequences and motivate them to get on a healthier path to build a healthy community.”