Behind every groundbreaking business is a person who inspires change. Jiries Rabba is one such individual.
His story begins at a young age. During high school, Jiries was very active and played many sports, including competitive hockey and football. By the time he was in university, however, Jiries started to fall into a rut: he would stay indoors, watch movies, binge eat or skip meals. “I got into the habit of this repetitive cycle,” he remembers. “A few years later, I was 50 pounds overweight. I went from being a health-conscious person to someone who was satisfying all problems with food.”
He’d go to the gym once, then stop. Then go back in a month and stop again. “I knew it was a very typical thing that a lot of people go through, but I didn’t know how to manage it,” he says.
At about 25 years of age, Jiries got a severe flu. He was hospitalized and his condition quickly worsened. A few days later, he was in a coma that lasted for two weeks. To this day, the doctors don’t know what happened exactly although they diagnosed him with acute respiratory distress syndrome. “All my major organs failed,” says Jiries. “I had nine tubes in me at one point. The doctors pumped me full of medication to save my life. I eventually recovered, but left the hospital in a state of disbelief. The doctors said it was a freak accident but, for me, it was a life-changing and eye-opening experience. Could I have fought it better if I was in a better shape physically? Mentally? What could I have done differently?”
This kickstarted Jiries’ journey towards a healthier lifestyle. He read a lot of magazines, went to the gym regularly and even became a personal trainer. He was now in his mid 20s, had lost about 70 pounds and had a six-pack. But at that point, everyone started telling Jiries that he was too skinny. “I would flip through magazines and notice that other men were a bit bigger and stronger-looking than me,” he recalls. “I was in a very fragile state, although I had come so far and worked so hard. Old habits slowly crept back in and I started feeling guilty.”
Eventually, Jiries began to suffer from bulimia. He says that, on a bad day, he would vomit up to three or four times a day, mainly after a “bad meal”. “I would eat a burger because all of my friends were out to eat one, but I would feel bad and throw it up. That went on for over a year. I knew it was horrible. I didn’t have energy, I was in a bad state emotionally, and my throat was sore from vomiting so much. It became another cycle in my life that I was desperately trying to get out of. And one day, I just thought to myself—I don’t want to do this anymore.”
Jiries decided to change his life. He began lifting weights, and was diligent about his eating habits. “I finally became happy with myself. I was in my late 20s, and I wasn’t influenced by society anymore. My reading materials were no longer about best ways to lose weight but about how eating directly relates to so many problems and cures. There is always a trend: fats cause liver disease, Atkins’ diet makes you lose weight, lowering your carb intake is better for you, sugars are bad, and so on. After all of my experiences, I understood that life is short, it’s meant to be enjoyed. It’s ok to be strict, it’s ok to be relaxed too. There is always a balance. TV and mass marketing often tell people to buy products at the cost of their health.”
In better shape and health than ever before, Jiries decided to help others around him too. He got together with some of his friends and family, and they created the PrOATein bar. The bar was born 2.5 years ago and the team spent the first year searching for perfect complementary ingredients.
“It’s a balance of life, health and nutrition. PrOATein bars are manufactured in Canada, contain less preservatives and have a longer shelf life. They represent a lifestyle,” says Jiries.
The bar doesn’t replace a meal. Instead, it’s meant as a snack, an item on-the-go that can help you curb unwanted, unhealthy indulgencies.
“You can have it handy in your purse, in your car, in your desk,” says Jiries. “It makes it easy to consume at any time. Our product also has a lot of fiber, which keeps you satiated longer. If I eat a candy bar, I will be hungry again in an hour. PrOATein is delicious and good for you. For example, it has date paste which is a wholesome, unrefined sugar with excellent nutritional value.”
When formulating the bar, Jiries says he started with the best carb source. “You can’t put rice or sweet potato in a bar, so we put oatmeal. We added good fats and proteins. Many people are also suffering from allergies, and we wanted to accommodate them too.”
As a result, PrOATein bars are gluten-free, wheat-free and made in a nut-free facility. They have no artificial sweeteners or flavours, are high in protein and fibre, and are low in fat. The bars are available in four flavours: chocolate fudge, white chocolate coconut, banana chocolate and vanilla blueberry. The bar is currently available in health, convenience and grocery stores, as well as online.
Jiries’ health mission doesn’t stop at creating healthy food options. He says he wants to continue to give back to the community by encouraging education forums about balanced living.
“We held a free boot camp in August in Toronto, and we would like to do similar events on a regular basis,” he explains.
“We want to create a movement that is focused on what it means to be healthy and how to do that while still being yourself. It’s about rising up and understanding that a magazine or a product don’t dictate what healthy is. How you feel is the most important!”
FAJO’s contest with PrOATein
September is the “back-to-school” season and also the start of the new work year for most of us. It’s a great time for new beginnings, healthy choices and rejuvenation!
That’s why we have partnered with PrOATein to give away the following prize to one lucky FAJO reader:
- a string gym bag
- two boxes of PrOATein bars
- and a PrOATein towel
This prize is valued at $100!
All you have to do to enter this fabulous contest is:
2) Re-tweet all FAJO tweets related to this contest.
Every follow and re-tweet counts as one entry, so the more times you enter, the higher your chances of winning!
This contest is open to all our readers across Canada. It will close at 11:59 p.m. EST on October 5, 2017.