I didn’t previously lead a healthy life. I had no idea what superfoods were until quite recently, and until I was 21 (three years ago), had never ordered a salad in my life.
But after I graduated from university in the United Kingdom two years ago, I started to change all that. I had to change my lifestyle at some point. I wasn’t overweight, but I have a sweet tooth, so I was eating too many desserts, as well as junk foods. I wasn’t really thinking about my diet – I was just going along with whatever I felt like eating at the time.
I realised it was affecting me physically and mentally. I used to get breakouts of spots, felt lazy and wasn’t very productive. I realise all this now because I do CrossFit, and whenever I stop, I get that feeling of laziness again.
I started training before I started my military service last year, so because I was already into that lifestyle, it wasn’t as difficult for me. It was hard obviously, but the tiredness wasn’t as bad as it was for many of the other guys.
Ironically, an 18-year-old would be complaining about having to run one kilometre, which is kind of funny, but also sad. Some people in their 30s could run better than others who were under 20. I saw a lot of guys who were overweight, and started doing research to look into it more.
The rate of diabetes and obesity is very high in Emiratis. It’s even affecting children. The food we eat and lifestyle we live sometimes lead us to that situation. I wanted to do something about it.
I think it’s so important to have role models in society. And a role model doesn’t have to be someone famous.
With national service, I noticed that although some people had never worked out in their life, whenever we had the chance to go to the gym, they would join us, because they would see what we were doing and think: “Why not?” And they would actually continue going to the gym after military service had ended.
Last year, when I finished military service, I started Seasons UAE, which is a healthy juice-bar truck, to spread awareness about leading a healthy lifestyle. Every season, we have an ambassador who promotes our brand, and we promote them too in some way.
It’s always an Emirati who made a change in their lifestyle. So for the first season we picked Abeer Al Amiri, a CrossFit trainer who organises fitness initiatives in Abu Dhabi.
We want to show people that living a healthy lifestyle isn’t as hard as they might think. When people get the chance to meet a marathon runner, a swimmer or a trainer, that pushes them, because they see them doing it and how possible it can be.
For us, it’s about having a community ambassador, which is not necessarily someone with 20,000 Instagram followers.
We haven’t yet decided our ambassador for this season. We have been in touch with a few people, but we haven’t locked anyone down one yet.
The Seasons UAE truck has so far been appearing only at public events, but we are in talks with sports and entertainment hubs in Abu Dhabi to be parked there on a daily basis. In Dubai, there are a lot of these healthy-food places, but we want to be Abu Dhabi-based.
* As told to Jessica Hill
Hamad Abu Shousha, 24, is a developer for Aldar and runs Seasons UAE.
If you have an interesting story to tell or an important topic to debate, contact Amanda Tomlinson at [email protected].