Indian-born Somesh Chakrabortty was adjudged the biggest loser in the ‘Your Child in Gold’ campaign, and took home 12gms of gold.
“It has been a great journey and I feel so much better now,” he told Emirates 24|7, minutes after he won the big prize.
Thani Mohammed Alghafry with his daugher
Highlighting the need for children to adopt a healthy lifestyle, he said, “It is easy to let go, and just be, but we must remember that if we don’t take care of ourselves, our bodies will give up.”
Somesh, the only child, credits his parents for encouraging him to take part in the Dubai Municipality’s unique slimming programme.
“Although the gold was a big incentive, my dad thought it was a great way to set the ball rolling.”
This student from Our Own English High School, who had been diagnosed with “pre -diabetes”, says the contest helped him take control of his body and has immensely boasted his self confidence.
Ziad Mitchell with his mother
“I eat healthy, and play a lot of sports. Initially, I cut out carbohydrates, and underwent a rigorous diet, but now I have learnt to eat a balanced diet, and work out regularly.”
Somesh added that he was going out to dinner to celebrate his success.
The other big winner of the night was 54-year-old Indian Sharadha Serigara, who lost a whopping 32kg.
She set a new record by beating last year’s biggest loser Ahmad Ibrahim Al Shiekh, who had totalled at 26kg of weight loss.
Talking about her secret mantra, she said, “I swim and exercise regularly, and follow a strict diet. I initially went on a liquid diet, and then I slowly added fruits and veggies, and chalked a balanced diet.” Sharadha claimed she was extremely diligent and disciplined about her daily routine.
“I didn’t give up on my favourites, but I didn’t binge either.”
Osama Dekak with his father
She plans to maintain her current weight of 63-kilos. “My family back home were in a shock when they saw how much I had slimmed down, and kept urging me to eat more. I do eat, but in moderation, as I want to maintain my current weight.”
Her daughter, who also participated in the contest, managed to lose 5-kilos. “My mother is a huge inspiration, and I hope I can follow in her footsteps. She’s glowing.”
Thani Mohammed Alghafry from Oman, who lost 17-kilos last year, came in second this year after losing 30-kilos.
“Since the final weigh-in I must confess that I have gained a few kilos, but I am determined not to let go, and to continue this healthy lifestyle. ”
He took home 60gms of gold, double of the weight he lost, as he enrolled in the campaign with his wife and 11-year-old daughter. “Together, my wife and daughter lost 10-kilos. My daughter was excited to participate as she wants to buy a new laptop with the gold we win.”
Thani added that it was combination of diet and exercise that worked the magic for his family.
Illeshaa Nijhawan and Ahmed Emad Ali Sayed came third for losing 31-kilos.
Ziad Mitchell, a British born and raised in Sharjah, was among the top 10 losers, after losing 24-kilos. “Since the final weigh-in I have lost an additional 12 kilos. My weight loss doesn’t stop once the campaign ends, it is on-going.
“The gold is an incentive, no doubt, but the real incentive is that this exercise is for your own self. As long as you have will power and support from family, you can do it.” His mother added that this has been a life-changing experience.
This year, 7,350 residents went from flab to fit, and were rewarded with a combined 40kg of gold, worth nearly Dh6 million. The campaign, which ran from July 15 to September 15, had 27,0703 residents signing up for it.
Hussain Nasser Lootah, director general of Dubai Municipality, who handed over the gold to the top winners, said they were surprised by the huge response. “There was no delay in awarding the winners, it just takes a lot of time and hard work to ensure everything is in order.”
Ten-year-old Osama Dakak was one of the lucky three, who were picked through a lucky draw, to take home 150gm of gold. “I also took part in the contest and lost 4-kilos,” he said, adding, “I’m going to gift this win to my mother.” His father also lost 26-kilos and took home gold rewards.
Indians topped the list of winners in the ‘Your Weight in Gold’ slimming contest, with 5,616 set to take home gold rewards. Filipinos come in second with 1,423 and Pakistan is third with 387.
Chinese are fourth with 225 of their nationals winning gold, and Egyptians at number five with 204. The UAE stood sixth with 146 winners, and 985 were slotted in “other countries”.
Khalid Ali Bin Zayed, assistant director general of Dubai Municipality, informed that 568 persons lost between 10kg and 20kg, while 27 people lost between 20kg and 30kg. Last year’s winner Syrian architect Ahmad made it to the top 27 this year.
While many winners of the contest collected their gold rewards, there were still many residents, who claimed the counters were closed when they got in. “We have been advised to go the Manara centre and collect our prizes,” said a Filipina winner.
All pics: Sneha May Francis