Francis Dasilva, a doctor from London, knows all too well how your mental state can affect your physical health. In the early days of his medical career, longstanding problems with depression and anxiety had lowered his self-esteem, and a hectic work schedule caused his diet and overall lifestyle to suffer, causing him to gain weight. In its heaviest form, it weighed 105 kg.
“I had gradually lost confidence in myself,” he says Men health. “Being a medical professional can be a daunting profession, and the overwhelming nature of what you do day in and day out can damage your confidence.”
After a long-term relationship ended, Francis said he was “both mentally and physically in bad shape” and decided to make a change to distract himself from his feeling: “You are getting to a point where things can’t feel worse than them and make me feel alone, and I didn’t want to just sit alone and let those thoughts run through my head. I wanted to find something to occupy myself with. “
He started exercising and changing his diet with no specific goals in terms of how much weight he wanted to lose or how he wanted to look. “At first it was just a distraction,” he says. “I just wanted to feel healthy and lighter again.”
Not yet having the confidence to go to the gym, Francis trained alone at home with an exercise bike and a single dumbbell. Gradually he began to lose weight and his fitness improved – and people noticed a visible change. “I felt my self-confidence grow,” he says. “It wasn’t just my looks, it was a task to set and get there. If I can lift that dumbbell and do two more repetitions or five more minutes on the bike, I feel good enough. This cycle stopped me walking until I’m in the best shape of my life. “
Over the course of two years, Francis lost 35kg and pushed himself further until he ventured completely out of his comfort zone. After refusing to be photographed for more than a decade, he sought out a photographer to capture his transformation. “Getting the photo was one of the best moments of my life,” he says. “It showed on paper what I had achieved, I couldn’t deny it or downplay it, it was just hard work and determination that got me there.”
Since then, Francis has participated in bodybuilding shows and represented his gym in competitions. On his last challenge, he rode his stationary bike the equivalent of the distance from England to India to complete the trip within a year.
As a junior doctor, he had lived on junk food from hospital vending machines; Since then, he has switched this to an approximation of the Mediterranean diet, getting his energy from oats, vegetables, and lean sources of protein like chicken and fish. “I have a few treats every now and then, but only when I feel like it,” he says, adding that low-calorie, high-density foods keep him fuller and more energetic than the candy bars and whole-sugar drinks used to make his “appalling” Dieting, he now maintains his weight between 70 and 72 kg (154 to 158 pounds).
“I’m still learning,” he says. “I’m not as physically strong as I used to be, but mentally I am much stronger. This taught me the capacity of the tank you have. You don’t have to go full throttle all the time, but it’s nice to know I have that skill if I ever need it. That little bit of confidence goes so far. If you always look down and don’t want to be noticed by the world, your life is difficult to shape. That confidence in going to the gym was the first I won’t stop now, I’ll just keep moving the goalposts. “
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