Rejected by schoolmates then, top model now

Top model Ridwan Mustafa shares his story on living large

YOUNG and charismatic, with a million-watt smile in Shell billboards throughout Malaysia, the face of MILO NutriG, Nestles Every Day, DARLIE, Dashing to name a few is the most sought after, top model Ridwan Mustafa.

Flashing a well-toned body and a six pack which is, most often adored by females and idolised by male counterparts today, was once 120 kilograms.

Born and raised in Felda, Terengganu, Ridwan was clueless as to what a healthy lifestyle meant in his younger days.

“There was no parks, no jogging, and no healthy lifestyle. Every dish we ate contained coconut milk and oil, it was either fried or made into curry and consist of sweet, fatty, salty food almost every day. Rice is a must – for breakfast, lunch and dinner and we hardly drank plain water.”

“That’s the culture that we have in Malaysia, especially in remote areas.”

“The awareness of healthy living – eating before six or seven pm was never in the vocabulary,” he said.

Noticeably big compared to his other peers at the age of seven, he grew even bigger to the extent of wearing a pant size 33 inches when he was 12 years old. A year later, he weighed 60 kilograms and by the time he entered university, he was already 120 kilograms.

“During school days, my appearance made it hard to get attention. Although I was talented, I was never chosen. I worked hard and kept trying to be a debater – to represent the school. However, even before I got the opportunity, it would be given to those who looked more presentable.”

“I was resentful and constantly wondered why I couldn’t be like the ones who were chosen.”

Being diagnosed with hypertension and high cholesterol on October 8, 2010 shook him up.

“I was only 23 years old then. Prior to being diagnosed, I was already suffering from dizzy spells, headaches and my body constantly itched due to toxin build up.”

“When the doctor gave me two options – to lose weight or to be under medication, I made a choice.”

“I had a flashback of all the things that had happened and I decided to make a change that my peers and those who rejected me at school would know who I am and no matter how, people would look at me.”

Persistent, he started by stopping his rice intake for the first eight months.

“Initially it was hard, but I had to put a stop. I substituted it with wholemeal bread. In addition, I read a lot on what carbohydrates is, which is not only rice. It was from pasta, bread, noodles as well.”

“There are four basic principles that I stuck to: reduce your sugar intake and replace beverages with warm water. Secondly, reduce oil intake, reduce salty foods, and lastly reduce carbohydrates. Take natural fruits less in sugar too such as apples,” he said.

“By doing so, I lost six kilogram within a week, and in a matter of eight months, I lost 30 kilograms. By then, I was more motivated to continue the lifestyle I created. I also worked out every day for an hour and a half at the gymnasium. By then, I could already wear a pant size of 38 inches.”

“My daily routine today consist of a 30-minute jog five to six times a week, I still adhere to the four principles as when I started, I abstain from processed food and opt for natural food and I do not take any supplements. I depend on natural foods and proteins such as chicken breast, fish, eggs and vegetables,” he said. – The HEALTH