Q&A with Nawaf Alghanem (Ofi)

Tell us a bit about your story. 

I was born in the Middle East, and raised predominantly in Jordan; at age 13 we moved to New Zealand where I learnt English and graduated with a degree in Accounting and Commercial Law.

Upon graduating I took up a job in Accounting in Australia where I continued my certification to become a fully qualified CPA (Chartered Practising Accountant); I have been an Accountant now for about five years.

I grew up playing street soccer and enjoying my time outdoors; it wasn’t until my mid to late teens that I became more aware and curious about health, nutrition and exercise. I subscribed to my first gym when I turned 16 years old, where I discovered I had a love for bodybuilding. I kept my training up all throughout my university studies and full-time work; it wasn’t until early 2017 that I decided to motivate myself further and enter my first WBFF competition in October the same year in the fitness modelling category.

What has been your biggest achievement in your career to date?

While I am not one to complain about my past, I wish to motivate people to achieve their dreams, no matter who they are or where they come from. What many people don’t know about me is that I come from a refugee background; when we first entered New Zealand, 15 years ago, I didn’t know a word of English and was told I couldn’t achieve what I wanted by one of my teachers. I never thought I would be where I am now; but with hard work and persistence I achieved more than what many people thought, and I still strive to give my best every day and push my body and mind to its limits so I can grow both physically and mentally.

In terms of my Accounting career, I am proud to say I am a fully qualified CPA and working as a management Accountant for a reputable organisation. I’m proud of making a debut in the WBFF as a fitness model, which I am looking to take further in the foreseeable future.

Did you have any misconceptions prior to entering the fitness model world and if so, how did you overcome them?

I guess looking up at those on stage you don’t really understand what models are feeling and have endured during their prep; it takes a tremendous amount of work and sacrifice to look your best and to reach that stage-level shape. Also, the posing looks to be the easiest part, the close of the journey. In reality, holding those poses for so long and also having the confidence to proudly stand in front of hundreds of others is much more challenging than a spectator could imagine. Not to mention, this is the time when you look your best and possibly feel your worst.

How did you find the transition to a plant-based diet? How quickly did you notice changes in your performance?

My transition to a plant-based diet took around three years. I’m one of those people that really needs to be fully informed before I make any big decision. I really had to study a lot of the aspects regarding a plant-based diet, its implications and impact on the Environment, People, Health, Fitness, Animals and the World as a whole.

The way I transitioned is different to the way most people seem to transition. Firstly, I cut out dairy around a couple of years ago; I noticed that my body just didn’t digest it well anymore, and through research I began to understand why. Just over a year ago now I completely cut out all meats. The last animal by-product in my diet was eggs. I struggled the most with this because it was a staple breakfast meal for me; it took me around 6 months to fully give up eggs and adjust my diet to incorporate other healthy protein-filled substitutes. Since being on a 100% plant-based diet, I’ve definitely felt a little cleaner both physically and consciously, my energy levels are still great, the food I eat is well balanced, nutritious, and of course, delicious.

What is your main piece of advice for potential athletes working towards a fitness career like yours?

Hard work is inevitable, consistency is key, knowledge is powerful, and sacrifice is necessary.

I have always believed that good things will only come if you “work for it”; mentally and physically, pushing yourself to your extreme, is how you reach success. You need to find motivation in yourself, not only in others, because believing you can will help you achieve your goals, and when it gets hard and your mind and body tells you “I can’t”, that is when you need to push harder – that is the make or break moment of success.

Do you have any rituals/superstitions prior to competition day?

Nope, just stick to the plan, keep up the hard-work and get it done with a smile and positive attitude. It isn’t about winning for me; it’s about being a better “me” than I was the time before.

What motivates you? 

Achievement. Utilising the best of my abilities, maximising output of my time and improving myself cognitively, physically and emotionally. Hence, I like to transform my body to its best shape possible. I also believe that keeping my horizon open is vital. I do not only focus on one thing in life, but instead aim to learn as much in a wide range of activities; this keeps me ‘alive and living’ mentally.

How do you integrate PranaON into your daily routine? Does this change in the lead up to a competition?

PranaON products are well embedded into my daily routine. I love having my supergreens in the morning, multi force at lunch time, phytofire protein before training, along with the pure boost and intra workout during my session, and finally, the powerplant protein after training. This doesn’t change throughout my competition prep given the nature of the products – however I am more aware of carbohydrate intake during my peak weak, so this may change slightly. On the weekends, I enjoy a delicious powerplant smoothie bowl for breakfast after my morning cardio.

What’s on the horizon for you?

Life… to me it isn’t working a 9-5 that pays the bills, it is about living the life you dream of living. My world has no borders… the moving horizon is my aim.

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