Body of work – on becoming fighting fit, and flaunting it

This obsessive focus on The Work is our reason for being and our competitive edge.

We believe The Work is the only true measure of an agency.


Hi dear reader, I trust you’re doing A-OK. It’s been a couple of months since my last post, and I want to change that. Excuse my topless torso in your inbox – I will explain my shirtless-ness shortly.

I meant to write last night; but was not in the right state of mind, and sleep was not forthcoming either. At one point, I started thinking deeply about several topics, but when you’re bound by your own mind, things can get heady…

Which is why I write. Writing offers me the opportunity to untangle, and more importantly, weaponise my thoughts into action. As always, if I end up sparking positive change or create a shift in perspective for someone, I will be as happy as a squirrel that digs into their secret acorn stash after a harsh winter.

I hope this turns out to be the case, but I wrote this blog more for myself than anyone else, which is why I doubt it will resonate with anyone. If it did, please let me know.

“Om nom nom.”

Now…on the cover image. Guess who’s the owner of that glorious, sun-kissed body? Me – Karan! I’ve popped my ‘first topless photo on the Internet’ cherry with this upload, and it’s a big deal for me.

Why? Because as confident as I am, I’ve always felt insecure about my body, and I don’t quite know why.

I was fine up until the age of 8, when I used to visit Dubai’s famous Jumeirah Beach with my family.

It might have been my tweens (hello puberty!) when I started to feel awkward about taking my shirt off.

I vividly remember excusing myself from a fun day out at Wild Wadi Waterpark with my school friends when I was 12, telling them I didn’t feel comfortable in the water.

If anything, I felt more comfortable under water, than out of it.

The photo of them making a splash at the water slide is still up on Facebook. Minus me.

Skinny fat. That was my body type. I didn’t have muscle, and carried some weight around my stomach.

Still, I looked decent when I dressed up. There was only a slightly visible paunch, which didn’t faze me.

As long as I had a shirt on, life went on…

Started from rock bottom. Now we here.

Is the dad-bod still in vogue? I hope not.

Cut to 16 years later. With a pandemic thrown in for good measure. (Which I survived, in case you were wondering. If your heart is still beating, type ‘Life is as good as you make it.’ in the comments.)

God, it’s good to be alive.

I am still amazed at how much I’ve physically changed in the last 6 months.

Although this photo is probably not the best indicator, because I’m comparing myself from one of my lower points in 2020 – when my depression had returned – and I turned to (junk) food and (overindulged in) sex to cope. I packed on the pounds quicker than I could demolish a Big Tasty, and that’s saying something.

Even so, those cheeks are impressive – I could probably host a village of Smurfs on each one. Ah, and the cute double chin.

A combo of gluttony with a lack of physical exercise and a side of excessive masturbation got me to this stage.

It wasn’t pretty, but I never considered myself a pretty boy. Handsome? Under the right conditions, yes.

The Pillsbury Doughboy comes to mind when I look at that photo on top.

Burn, baby, burn: boxing, HIIT, and getting fit.

The photo from February 2022 is when I was a month into boxing.

I was hooked (punch me for that silly pun – I can take it) after the first class.

But here’s the thing: I never intended to get into shape. I merely fell in love with the sport.

I’ve always been a high-energy guy, and boxing was the perfect outlet to channel my excessive energy.

After the initial shock and subsequent struggle, my body adapted to the demands of each class, and I felt myself getting fitter.

Apart from the varied classes (HIIT classes, technical classes, and strength and conditioning classes) I took up weight-training and powerlifting to become stronger.

Naturally, I didn’t want to undo the hard work by pigging out. I just upped my protein, regulated my carbs, and slept well.

For better or for worse, when you lose a drastic amount of weight in a short period of time, people notice.

And people love to talk. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for it – I love stimulating conversation.

But to make a comment for the sake of making a comment? That vexes me.

“You’ve lost weight, Karan. Is everything ok? You’re looking thin, Karan.”

I’ve been working hard since January 2022. I attended two boxing classes every day, 4 days a week, every week.

One at 6:30 in the AM, and one at 6:45 in the evening. Sometimes, I’d stick around to spar at 8 PM.

And ooh boy, 6 minutes in the ring will leave you gassed!

I’d slip in a powerlifting/weight training session on the fifth and sixth day, and rest for one.

I was burning upwards of 800 calories per class. That’s about 1600 calories per day.

Which meant all that subcutaneous fat disappeared. Fast.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know, I’m Indian. Now, what has that got to do with anything?

Culturally speaking, in olden times, having a pot belly was viewed as a sign of prosperity.

Since I’m Indian and work in the construction sector in Dubai, I interact with many Indians. Some of whom get needlessly personal.

And most of whom have a traditional mindset. Who do not question the world. Who are content living in their bubbles, doing the same thing, day in, day out.

Like suave, well-dressed monkeys, hitting keyboards.

Which inevitably led to some variation of the question above. It was fine the first few times…

But the fiftieth? Give it a rest, man.

What really got my goat, however, was hearing I’ve become weak. People had no idea.

Yes, I look lean. But I’m the strongest I’ve been all my life, and I’m only just getting started.

There is a difference between looking muscular à la the classic bodybuilder look versus putting on lean muscle yet becoming strong i.e. a professional athlete (think gymnasts, basketball players, football players, etc.)

Bulky vs lean muscle. Which sporting legend inspires you to be the best physical version of yourself?

Pardon my ego

Have you heard how a wolf does not lose sleep over the opinions of sheep? This is not to say I’m a wolf.

Oh, no. I’m a God damn lion. After pushing the envelope for the last half year, I’ve realized I can do anything if I apply myself.

People start to treat you differently when you take care of your appearance. Numerous studies have proved how attractive people earn more, are thrust into leadership positions, are trusted more, and generally do better at life than, say, average-looking people.

On a related note, it is a strange feeling to have unknown men nod at you as they pass. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it is amusing how women throw themselves at you in social situations.

Pardon me if this sounds masturbatory. It is the truth. I’ve always written the truth. And will continue to do so, until my last breath.

Speaking of death, I am keenly aware of how I could die, or get seriously injured at a moment’s notice.

It may not even be my fault. Picture the most horrific car accident you’ve seen.

What if you were caught in the crossfire? Collateral damage ensues – you lose your vision, or maybe a limb?

What if you were to become paraplegic? And had to use disabled toilets, and park in ‘reserved’ spots for the rest of your pathetic, miserable life?

I have an Indian-American cousin who’s a year older than me. We’re similar in many ways, yet the key difference between us is our egos. Not the size of them, mind you.

We’ve both got egos the size of Mount Everest, but what differentiates us is how I know I am nothing in the grand scheme of things.

I could get punched, bleed internally, and die next Thursday whilst sparring a Mexican in my boxing gym.

Which is why I am filled with nothing but love for people, wanting the best for everyone, whilst my cousin can be self-centred, violent, and arrogant.

At the same time, what else can I offer this world but my self? Sure, I may look different now, but whatever happens, I will never let go of my inner child that lusts for novelty, craves adventure, and loves bringing joy to those around me.

Sleep was a foreign concept to me last night. I instead stared at myself in the mirror, thinking of how far I’ve come.

Thinking of how I held my own against bigger men in the ring. Thinking of how much money I’ve made. Thinking of my recent European holiday. Thinking of how much fun I had dancing in the sun by myself. Thinking of all the women who wanted nothing more than to fuck me. Thinking of how I climbed mountains no-one dared climb. Thinking of the new friends I made. Thinking of the old ones I reunited with.

(I also thought of this woman I like, and how I want her to become the woman she once was, even if we will never be together.)

I’ve grown more in the past 9 months than I have in the past 3 years.

But the work cannot stop. It does not stop. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There’s immense work to be done. On this blog. On my YouTube channel. On my t-shirt project. On my boxing. On my relationships. On my business.

But every once in a while, it’s okay to pause. To watch yourself in the mirror, wide-eyed.

Admire the person you’re becoming.

And thank them for being there, every step of the way. Because nobody, (are you listening to me!?) nobody – except for you – did those push-ups. Even when no-one was watching.

It’s scary, yet liberating to be by yourself at 3 AM. With nothing but your thoughts for company.

I’m proud of you, Karan. Thank you for being there for me when no-one else was.

But we’ve got a long way to go. I hope you’re ready for what lies ahead.

I told myself I’d never take this kind of a selfie, but I guess there’s a first time for everything, eh?

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