For months our friendship with Arash Hashemi existed only through Instagram. While we had been exchanging likes, comments, and dms for quite some time, we’d never actually met in real life (IRL, if you will) until last week. We met at Brick in Norwood for coffee. Arash got black coffee in a, “for here,” mug and I, Mer, got a large black coffee with almond milk in a to-go cup that I spilled on myself within 2 seconds of receiving.
Arash Hashemi is a local entrepreneur with a popular Instagram account called ShredHappens. He does Ironmans, snaps beautiful pictures of his healthy grub, gives the big middle finger to diets, and scales walls like Spiderman. Maybe not that last part, but I feel like he could if he tried.
But, my friends, Arash wasn’t always this way. Arash grew up as he put it, “chubby.” From a young age, he was constantly on a diet.
“I did south beach, I did weight watchers, I did Atkins, I did so many other things. The cabbage soup diet. I had trainers from age 10. I was always dieting. And depriving. I would lose 10, 20, 15 pounds, and then come crashing down. I was always restricting something.”
And this deprivation and restricting wasn't helping his health.
“In college, my second year, everyday I was always on diet and I spent everyday with a trainer and I was over 320 pounds. The thing is you can’t out train binging. I would diet for 3 or 4 days and then binge.”
“I had let it define my entire human existence. It didn’t matter what other elements were in my life, good or bad, my entire existence and state of being was based on my weight and my looks and that’s it.”
Then, one day, he decided to make a change.
“You get to a point where enough is enough. I got to that point. I was over not being comfortable in my own skin, not jumping into the pool for decades….”
Enough was enough. It was about two years ago and Arash was working at GE. He had a very successful career, but he was working 13-15 hour days. Like any good man, he uses his dogs as a barometer for time and life. He told me, “We would drop our dogs off at daycare in the AM, and we’d be the first ones there at 7 AM. Then, we’d be the last ones there to pick them up at night. We’d go home and crash and do it again.”
He was mentally and physically unhealthy and burnt out. So, he did what most people only imagine doing. He quit his job to focus on his health. While this may be the fantasy most corporate Americans dream of daily, it wasn’t an easy transition. Arash is type A, driven, and really smart, and he was used to working in an environment with plenty of structure and with plenty of coworkers. Without a job, he had to create his own structure and his own rules for the day, and he had to get accustomed to a lot of alone time.
(I mean look at these pictures from his Intsa. Amazing.)
How was he spending his days you might ask? Getting healthy. Arash started to eat low-carb and keto, remembering a successful bout with this style of eating back from his college days. He started cooking healthy meals and started an Instagram account to capture and record said meals. His Instagram account is now up to an impressive 9k followers. But, as he told me, his intention really wasn’t to get a huge following, it simply was to document his journey and his process—just like a diary. After quitting his job, Arash also set a goal. He wanted to complete a half Ironman within 10 months. Talk about a couch to 5k plan on steroids. So, like any driven, type a person, once he set his mind to it, he did it.
And he hasn’t stopped. He’s now run a half ironman and a full and continues to train for future competitions. As you can imagine he’s also dropped a lot of weight. But, perhaps most importantly he's found a sense of balance.
“My life now is much less restriction. It’s flexibility and personal accountability. My body is constantly getting smarter, more efficient.”
And Arash is still setting goals (that we’re sure he’ll crush). His next goals are to run a half Ironman and full Ironman every year, make it to the Ironman championship in Hawaii, lose another 40 pounds over the next two years, AND launch a health food product of his own. Through this food product, Arash wants to help people realize that they an eat delicious food without depriving themselves.
We’ll be following along, and you should too. Find Arash at his Instagram account here.