It wasn’t the number on the scale that galvanized Reza Farahan into doing something about his weight gain. It was a quip from a friend he hadn’t seen in a long time.
“He said, ‘When did you give up on life?’” Farahan recalls. “It was the proverbial slap in the face. I dug up photos from my 20s and tears were rolling down my face. I realized I needed to reprogram how I think, eat and live.”
So in late 2016, the now 44-year old reality show star — his life as a real estate agent plays out amid the high drama on the Bravo series “Shahs of Sunset” — put himself on a strict diet that mandated eating exactly the same food every day, and working out with his trainer Ashley Borden. He had hit 230 pounds. Within 10 months, he dropped 40 of them. He has kept the weight off.
Earlier this year, Farahan was with Borden at Studio10 Fitness, a gym in West Hollywood, where the trainer was launching Rezafit, a six-week app-based strength and conditioning program ($34.99 on ashleyborden.com) based on the repertoire she created for Farahan. The regimen, designed to be for anyone, should ideally be done in a gym, and encompasses a series of exercises that Borden believes to be the most effective in sculpting the body.
“When people take multiple different classes they don’t have a body composition change,” said Borden. “You can lose weight on a scale. But if you were a blob before, you’ll just be a smaller blob. You’re not going to be sculpted because you’re not choosing the right exercises and doing the reps correctly.”
Farahan shares the program with many of his 610,000 Instagram followers who have been curious about his transformation. Here, he talks about how he stays motivated, why food preparation is critical, and the magic power of carrots.
Have a plan
“I hit the gym and do 45 minutes of cardio five or six times a week. Then an hour of strength training with Ashley four times a week. I’m not doubling up on things or overworking any one muscle group.”
Set your menu
“I was eating whatever was available at that moment. I’d be in my car and I’d have a (granola) bar. They don’t fill you. I’d have another and still wasn’t satisfied. I’d get home ravenous and eat four pieces of bread.”
Eat for nutrition, not pleasure
“Sunday is my food preparation day. I make enough for a week of exactly the same meals. I consume it knowing it’s the fuel I need. I had to think of food as something for nutrition, not pleasure. I have a small tote bag with freezer packs in it and I keep my food in the car with me.”
Fiber changes your life. Try to eat two large peeled carrots with every meal and see how full and happy you get. It’s a game-changer.
“I eat before I go out to dinner then I order a meal and nibble the parts of it that are healthy. I wasn’t telling anyone I was on a food plan because as soon as I did, they’re all, ‘Come on, it’s one night!’ If they were eating badly, they wanted to take me down with them.”
Rethink cheat day
“I’d rather have cheat time here and there than a whole cheat day. If my husband and I go see a movie, I’ll want popcorn, or the almond milk peanut butter yogurt at the frozen yogurt place. I love ramen and will get a spinach-based noodle. And Whole Foods has a vegan cheesecake made with agave and cashews. Those are my cheats. I don’t go [nuts] anymore because it doesn’t feel good. And I’ve given up all the whites — bread, pasta, sugar, rice.”
Drink this, not that
“I used to love whiskey with Coke, high caloric and sugary. Now I’ll have a tequila on the rocks with fresh lime, or a vodka and soda. They’re not the drinks I love, but they help me maintain a healthier lifestyle.”
Stick it out
“The first week was hellacious. I was always hungry. I went from eating whatever I wanted to having what felt like prison food. You get a tray, that’s it, there’s no going back for seconds. But by week two I started to feel lighter, my clothes fit better, I could see the outline of my jaw again. The results will suck you in. Once you start feeling and looking good, it changes everything. You will feel better in your skin, and that perpetuates the motivation to keep going.”
The daily diet
What Farahan ate every day to shed 40 pounds in 10 months. This continues to be his daily diet.
¾ cup of liquid egg whites cooked with a spray of oil and hot sauce to taste
2 slices Ezekiel sprouted toast
1 tablespoon of Udo’s 3-6-9 Oil Blend
Coffee with unsweetened almond milk
Every three hours thereafter, three times a day:
1 cup grilled chicken breast
½ sweet potato
Mixed together and piled onto two rice cakes.
Two large carrots
For snacks: baby carrots, Asian pears, raw almonds, cucumber with sea salt. And a gallon of water a day.