As a former world-level martial artist, 29-year-old Rizwan felt a shadow of his former athletic self.
Rizwan’s health has slipped so far, he found himself gasping for air during his jiu-jitsu training. He knew his weight gain during the pandemic was to blame, in part down to his stressful job.
A black belt in judo and brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the Leeds-based professional banker devoted a lot of his time to working out. But training to him meant lifting as heavy as possible and eating whatever he liked.
Rizwan joined up with Ultimate Performance to press the reset button. With a family history of medical issues, including diabetes and heart disease – he knew now was the time to get serious about his health before 30. The thought of a lifetime of poor health was playing on his mind.
A couple of months work has helped him battle back to his fighting best and overhaul his confidence.
He’s trimmed away fat from his stomach and even incorporated daily fasting into his program throughout Ramadan. Having an accountable expert by his side was pivotal for Rizwan, knowing his diet plan was furthering his progress despite his 16-hour fasts.
“I feel unbelievable. The transformation I’ve come on and the progress I’ve made through Ramadan, I still look at myself and think, ‘Is that me?’
“I still look in the mirror and think ‘how have I achieved that?’
“A lot of improvements have translated into my jiu-jitsu. I can now sustain myself for longer at a much higher intensity. I don’t gasp as quickly, and that’s quite noticeable.”
Here, Rizwan discusses how his trainer helped him stay on track during Ramadan, his newfound understanding of macros, and how he has become more confident wearing his favourite clothes.
What was your motivation to begin working with Ultimate Performance?
I put on a lot of weight during the pandemic and I wasn’t happy about myself. My job is very sedentary, so I found it difficult to shift that fat I’d put on. I consider myself fairly active, but I’d always worked out without any real know-how of what would work for my body.
I just wanted to feel confident again. My clothes were not fitting how they once would, I often felt tired and I couldn’t go as many rounds in jiu-jitsu training. There are also several medical issues in my family: high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and obesity. As I was approaching my 30s, I wanted to make a change to set my path early for the life I wanted to lead.
Did your weight gain affect your confidence?
I’ve always been relatively consistent when it comes to exercise, then COVID came along and knocked me for six. The uncertainty and anxiety of the situation didn’t help me, and I was completely new to the working from home environment. I had easy access to food, and it soon became a very unhealthy place to be. My job was also quite stressful, so that didn’t help. I ended up putting on a lot of weight.
What were the main things you’ve learned whilst working with your trainer?
I’ve now learned that you need a particular diet and lifestyle to make a change to your body. I didn’t really know what calories were or understand what they meant. At the very least, I knew what protein was, but I didn’t understand what it meant for the specific goal that I was going for. So, if we’re talking about what I’ve learned, it would be about calorie intake and how supplements support your goals. If I didn’t join U.P., I would definitely not be in the same place as I am now – I can quite easily say that. It’s been a huge learning curve and taught me how my body works.
Coming from a martial arts background, tell us about your jiu-jitsu career
I’m a black belt in judo and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and I’ve competed at European and world levels. My goal was to lose weight but gain strength at the same time to support my training. My trainer at U.P. has helped me understand how I can use my diet to help me become as strong as possible but not lose any speed.
What impact has your transformation had on your martial arts performance?
I’ve noticed a lot of differences that have translated into my jiu-jitsu. I can now sustain myself for longer at a much higher intensity. I don’t gasp as quickly, which has been quite noticeable. People have also noticed that although I look trimmed down, I’m much stronger than I was. That’s that kind of happy place that I wanted to reach. Not only have I noticed the improvements, but other people have as well.
How helpful was your trainer in helping you continue your transformation during Ramadan?
Ramadan presented a different and unique challenge. My trainer showed me that there were ways to work around it, highlighting what I needed to focus on. He ensured I got the appropriate amount of protein when I could eat. Ramadan is an Islamic pillar of faith where you fast and don’t eat from sunrise to sunset. It could be up to 16 hours plus per day.
From a training perspective, it’s quite a long time to go without food. My trainer was accessible and easy to communicate with if I was looking for guidance on what I needed to do. During training sessions, I’d always pick his brains about what I should and shouldn’t be eating.
How do you feel about yourself now that you’ve finished training with U.P.?
I feel unbelievable. The transformation I’ve come on and the progress I’ve made through Ramadan, I still look at myself and think, ‘Is that me?’ I still look in the mirror and think ‘how have I achieved that?’ I’ve never had that kind of a physique before. It is still a bit surreal. I’m incredibly happy with where I’ve got to
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