How social media helped me get in shape

It’s been just over a year since the UAE went into its first lock down, and for many of us, we’re looking back and reflecting on how things have changed in a year. For Dhivya Bhola, French teacher at GEMS Modern Academy, she embarked on a fitness journey that has changed her body, and her mind.

Divya Bhola calls her weight loss “a lockdown gift to myself”.

When I look back at the last year, it taught me to be resilient, patient, but most importantly to stay healthy.

I start my day at 4.30am. By the end of the day I used to feel tired and exhausted. I’d make my New Year resolutions and write out my goals, but I always had my excuses and exceptions, and I’d begun to neglect my health. After some scary conversation with the doctors, I finally understood that being healthy was the ultimate priority in life and it comes before anything else.

I made the decision to do something about my weight in April 2020. We’d gone into lockdown and as challenging as that was, it gave me a chance to re-evaluate and  re-prioritise some things in my life, and focus on the things that I can control instead of worrying about the things that I cannot.

My family could not have been more supportive, and we started every day with a 30-minute family workout. It was my kids’ idea to create the family Instagram page “2fitbros_dxb”, where we share our work outs and family fitness fun.
We started the page in January 2021, partly because we wanted to motivate others and to spread awareness of the fact that it’s never too late, or too early, to start the fitness journey.

Surfing social media really motivated me. Watching people with physical difficulties, reading about different weight-loss stories helped me to understand that it is the mind-set that needs to be changed, no excuse can stop you from staying fit and healthy. It also helped me to find exercise schedules, nutritional advice, and recipes.

My biggest challenge was overcoming the temptation to snack. We teachers are always on-the-go, and having a sweet tooth made avoiding sweets during my workday difficult. I’d try to keep an apple or some home-made protein bars made with oats, nuts, honey and almond flour in my handbag, then on cheat day I eat whatever I like!

Losing weight is really a journey. It took me nine months to achieve my current weight, but for every morning when I struggled to wake up, or just wasn’t in the mood to work out, I can truly say that it was worth it in the end. What started as a forced activity, is a now a ritual followed religiously every day and my gym time is hallowed “me-time” at the end of every workday.  Now, I can run 10km, I can do weight training and I can do handstands with my kids.

Divya’s top tips for keeping in shape

  • Start with a diet which is balanced with protein, carbs and fats. The intake of good fats is important (avocado, nuts, olive oil etc.), so don’t cut them for the sake of minimising calories.
  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Start with all the fun things you liked to do when you were a kid may be skipping or cycling or dancing or just go for a 30 minute walk.
  • Do not wait for the ‘best time’ to start, today is the best day.