Our People

Aneel Karim: taking stock, doing better

If you work on the UWI St Augustine Campus then most likely you have seen or know Aneel Karim. Perhaps you have spotted him driving around on errands in the white Marketing and Communications Office van. Maybe you've encountered him making deliveries at your faculty or administrative building. These days the best place to see him is with a camera in hand taking photos at the numerous campus events (many of those photos enhance the articles in UWI Today every month).

But if you've worked at UWI St Augustine for a bit longer you'd know something else about Aneel - he has changed his life dramatically through diet and exercise.

This past October, Aneel took part in the UWI SPEC International Half-Marathon. It was his first time and a symbol of the progress he has made.

"It feels really good," he says of the accomplishment. "I didn't think I could have done anything like this." Just three years ago, he most likely would not have been able to do it. Aneel had poor eating habits: "Back then it was anything - doubles, aloo pie, pholourie, saheena, fast food. I used to knock down sometimes five baigan pies by the vendors at O'Meara Rd. I used to drink sometimes four or five 20z Cokes a day. When I had to drop my son or my daughter to school, afterwards coming back to work I would buy one. When I go out for mail I would buy one. People who know me know Karim always had a coke in his hand."

Aneel was much heavier then, wearing a waist 40 pants and having a rounder face. Thankfully there were no major health problems related to his lifestyle but he did suffer from stress. That changed in 2016. It was Christmas Eve and he and his family (wife Nyhla, daughter Salma and son Ansar) were at home when he suddenly had problems breathing. The discomfort lasted the entire night. Then it happened again and he had to stay overnight at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope.

The tests did not reveal any ailments. Nevertheless, these incidents were enough to make him decide to change:

"After that I said ‘Aneel, you need to check yourself.' It's true, one day we all have to go, but nah, I had to fight this thing. If you have to go, you don't want to go like that."

And he fought. Emphasising that it was a gradual process, Aneel cut out the bad foods and soft drinks (he hasn't had a Coke in about three years). He ran every day, anywhere, "any savannah I could find," he says.

Aneel also does bodyweight exercises like pushups and is a follower of social media fitness expert Jordan Yeoh, who he considers a major inspiration. Like Yeoh, who himself transformed his life through diet and exercise, the one-time waist 40-holder had to buy a new waist 34 pants earlier this year. He is now down to the last belt hole.

When asked how he was able to achieve this when so many people cannot maintain their healthy lifestyle habits, he points to the support of his family, especially Nyhla, who makes healthy meals for him. But he also believes his achievement was based on facing his issues and making a conscious effort to do better:

"I am thankful to be alive. You never know what could have happened. You as the individual know how you feel. You have to take the step. I am not a fitness person or health conscious person per say, but I took stock of myself."

It's one of the most valuable lessons anyone should learn, even in an institution of learning.