Diary / Wellness / Sep 26, 2022
Arash Hashemi’s 100 Pound Weight Loss Journey
Written by: Damara Pratt
The daily life of Arash Hashemi used to look a lot different. He was a top executive in the corporate world, and on the surface, had it all—but his health (and his weight) was only getting worse. After watching the scales tip further and further, he quit his job and decided to restart his life.
Arash’s transformation was amazing: he dropped 100 pounds, went from a sedentary lifestyle to finishing competitive races, established a healthy relationship with food, and started a low-carb focused almond pasta business with his wife. He shares his story and newfound passions on Instagram at @shredhappens, and spoke with me about what factored into his wellness breakthrough after a lifetime of food-related struggles.
You went from a corporate executive struggling with health to a business-owner running half marathons. Can you explain your journey from one to the other?
I was out of shape and on some diet ever since I was becoming a teenager. I’ve tried every diet you could think of, and always harbored a crazy expectation that all that weight would go, which never lasted. When I became an adult I entered the corporate world, which I worked in for almost 10 years. I was a senior-level executive who managed a team of people and billions of dollars. I had the expensive car, the nice house, and a happy marriage. That’s the American dream, right? But despite all my external success, I was unhappy in my personal life. I was stressed, over 300-lbs, and could barely run a mile. Every day I slept until the last minute, ate the same unhealthy food, came home exhausted, watched TV, and fell asleep. One day I told my wife that I need to fix my life, and we hatched a plan. We downsized, saved money, and I left my job. To me, my new job was to get healthy and find joy.
Why didn’t your dieting work?
What every diet I tried—and I tried them all—had in common was that they were all restrictive and time sensitive. I would do them and think the pounds were going to drop like magic. But because they were so restrictive and had an end date, I would always quickly fall off the wagon. When you have a dysfunctional relationship with food, these kind of philosophies don’t actually help you reframe your thinking. Now I eat what I want, but I find ways to make it healthy and look appetizing. If I want a pizza, I’ll make it out of vegetables. It’s experimental and it’s fun.
My wife and I have come to love the process so much that we recently launched our own pasta company, AlmondLoveWith. We love pasta and wanted to be able to eat it more often without guilt. We spent months trying out different flours that could be low carb, and after hundreds of trials found that the right kind of almond flour tastes great, contains 20 grams of protein, and only 190 calories and 3 net carbs. So now I’m doing what I love and I get to be business partners with my wife. If you told me even five years ago that this would happen, I wouldn’t have believed it.
You were able to gain a positive relationship with food. How did you come to love exercise?
This took me about 20 years to learn. I was never an athlete, and going to the gym was a chore I dreaded. A game changer for me was training for races. In the process, I learned just how powerful the mind is. I started with a 5K, which was tough and felt amazing. Then I did a 10K. Then a half marathon. Then an a triathlon. Then half an Iron Man! I proved to myself that I am more capable than I ever thought. I couldn’t help but give myself credit. All of this was done within 10 months of leaving my job. It’s a great feeling to see yourself do the exact opposite of what you thought was possible.
The life changes you describe couldn’t have been easy. What was your biggest source of inspiration?
My wife has always trusted me as a partner and has this mindset that we’ll do whatever it takes to make more out of our lives. My parents left everything in Iran as established adults and moved to America, because they wanted to encourage us to be the best versions of ourselves. My dad went from the dean of an Iranian university to working in a coffee shop. My mom went from not having to work at all to working in a cafeteria. If they could start over in a new country from scratch, I knew that I could easily change my life in my own small way.
What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness is all about finding a way to make your health a sustainable lifestyle. I believe in sticking to your own guidelines about 80% of the time. You should still be able to go out to that restaurant with your friends, or have that birthday cake. It’s okay to eat and enjoy. You have to let go of self-defeat and self-sabotage. There are so many foods and activities to choose from that you can be excited about but are also good for you. Find what you like, and run with it.