Tekha Tarek Selim was once an overweight Egyptian high school student who dreamed of playing professional basketball for Team Egypt. But there was one significant hurdle standing in Tekha’s way: he was more than 45kg overweight.
Yet, Tekha was determined to achieve his dream. By believing in himself, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly, Tekha began his journey of losing 65kg in just 11 months. And before he knew it, he was playing point guard for Team Egypt.
Tekha now travels all over the world sharing his story to help empower leaders, teachers, and students to change their own lives for the better.
We caught up with Tekha this week to ask him a few questions of our own. Here’s what he had to say.
When you first decided you wanted to start losing weight and get healthy, how did you motivate yourself to begin?
During my school years, my life was very hard. I was always being bullied. Friends at school and on my basketball team were always putting me down. Everywhere I turned, it seemed like no one wanted me to succeed. But I turned all of this negative talk and bullying into my motivation to change my life.
When I first began, I kept asking myself, how am I going to lose 65kg? How in the world am I going to do this? But I knew I had to look at it like a journey. I kept asking myself, what would I rather do? Work hard and suffer for a year, maybe two years, in order to live the rest of my life as a happy and healthy guy? Or would I rather stay on the couch and feel sorry for myself and be unhealthy?
Just like everything in life, the first steps are always the hardest.
Is there one particular activity you encourage people to do to get fit?
Sometimes nutritionists or other fitness coaches will tell people to do a certain activity or plan to see the best results, but I don’t think that’s the best way. When I first started to lose weight, I decided to play the things that I loved. And then, I looked for any and every way I could to stay active. Get in the pool and swim, roll out of bed and do some push ups, take the stairs, jump up and down, jump on your bed, whatever! Just keep moving.
Keep your eyes open for little opportunities of time throughout your day to be active. For instance, when I’m in the kitchen and have something in the microwave, I’ll take that 30 seconds to do push ups or jump in place. Everyone has time. Just start looking for it.
Living in the UAE or anywhere in the Gulf States, summer temperatures can get really hot, what’s one way you enjoy staying active during the summer heat?
Ironically, I actually like to run outside in these hot summer temperatures. I like to challenge myself by doing difficult things that feel impossible. But when you are first starting out, running outside during the summer probably isn’t the best option. Instead, jump in the pool. Do some push ups in the AC. Run around inside your house for five minutes. Do whatever. Just get moving—summer is no excuse.
Obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases are on the rise here in the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf States. What do you believe are the most practical ways to overcome this trend?
The most important thing for us to do in this region is to realize that obesity actually is a serious problem. Many people here in the UAE, don’t realize that being overweight and inactive is unhealthy. I hear lots of people say, “Oh his fat and chubby cheeks are so cute!” Parents and grandparents, teachers and friends need to realize obesity isn’t a joke. Obesity leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, and a host of other serious diseases that can lead to death. We need to be talking about this and we need to start taking action.
Coming up this November, I have the opportunity to speak at a five-day conference hosted by The University of Sharjah, “Solutions For A Better Life”. This will be a great opportunity for those of us here in the UAE to continue talking about the seriousness of obesity.
When people say, “But I don’t have time to get fit and exercise for hours every day.” What is your advice to them?
Here’s the thing, everyone has 24 hours in a day. If you actually analyze your day, the majority of us all have four to five hours each day that we don’t know what to do. I used to be the lazy guy who only loved the sofa or my bed, but then changed things for myself. If you don’t want to change your life, then you won’t do it. But if you want to do it, you’ll find a way.
What’s Tehka Doing Now?
Tekha is a mass media student at the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Recognized as one of the strongest point guards in the Middle East, Tekha plays for the University of Sharjah’s basket team as well as the MPAC professional team. When he isn’t studying or playing basketball, Tekha works with the organization he founded, Tekha Group, to spread further awareness about the risks of obesity while encouraging people to reach and achieve their dreams.