The news had a terrible impact on him as he was only 29 at that time. He was really down and depressed after the news. However, like the fighter he is, he won this battle.
Wasim had once commented on this issue:
“I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1997. I was only 29 years old. I thought my life was gone — no more cricket. But, my wife gave me mental strength. It’s just mental discipline. Temptations are there. I feel like having biryani every night — naans and kulchas, and niharis. But I avoid it.”
“I will eat in moderation and now my brain has programmed itself in a way that if I eat slightly more, I start feeling like I’m bloating. I feel I’m going to throw up. So with mind discipline you can do anything. It’s tough to start off with it but once you start feeling healthy, everything works for you then. Health is everything.”.
However being the fighter he is, he made a lot of changes to his food habits and programmed an exercise schedule for him to stay fit.
The diet and lifestyle changes made by him to live and perform better are as below:
1. DIET CHANGES
To cut out and reduce a lot of heavy stuff from his food, including high carb food and oily stuff. Also, increase the proportion of vegetables and salad in his diet to ensure he felt full and stop food cravings.
Wasim commented on his diet changes:
“In Urdu-Hindi we say ‘kam khao to zindagi lambi jayegi’ (eat less and you’ll live longer). He cultivated this habit.
For example, I don’t eat bread at night because there are more carbs in it. If I feel like it, I’ll have half a roti. I’ll have a chicken tikka, but I’ll have a massive bowl of salad.”
“And then I check my sugar levels. I’ve trained my mind. I love my steaks, but I just eat less, at home or otherwise. Before lunch, I eat a bowl of stir fried vegetables so my stomach is more or less full. And then I’ll have a little of whatever else is there. So that’s the sort of technique I’ve used to train myself.”
“I do the same thing wherever I am. I can have something before the meal — something healthy, something non-sugary¸ maybe a fruit.
Wasim also incorporated regular exercise as part of his daily schedule to keep burning the calories and avoiding weight gain. He commented on his exercise schedule after the diagnosis:
“Exercise for diabetics is most essential. In our culture, we were told diabetics get tired. But why? Because their sugar levels are not in control. When your sugar is not in control, your muscles are not getting the right amount of glucose. That’s why you feel weak.”
“I’ve proved it wrong. I’ve played cricket for ten years in the national cricket and I’ve been running around these last ten years day in and day out, exercising every day twice a day. Exercise is very crucial, and regularly checking sugar levels when under stress, when not well, if you’re too happy — it fluctuates.”
3. LIFESTYLE CHANGES
“If it’s [sugar level] a bit high after dinner, then I go for a half-hour walk and when I come back and check, I see it’s gone down. If you’ve got to go for a job at 9 am, get up at 6.30 am, sleep early. In our culture, we don’t sleep early. I eat by 7.30-8 pm. I sleep by 10.30-11 pm. Wake up at 6 am with my kids and then go for my run.”
“So, these small details are what you need to learn yourself. I’ve never let it hamper my playing. I got diagnosed in 1997 and retired in 2003 and I got 200-plus wickets in one-day and in test cricket after being diagnosed. I’ve not tired still.”
An inspiration for the next generation of sportsmen and commoners alike
Wasim has also raised awareness amongst the common public facing diabetes about the importance of diet, exercise and discipline to fight the ailment. Hope that more people can become aware of ways to fight against this illness and lead a happy and balanced life.
The epic career of Akram, even after being diagnosed with diabetes, suggests that a man can do whatever he wants, provided he possesses the will to really do it.