It took Kumail Nanjiani a while to adjust to his ripped body. The 42-year-old actor covers the April issue of Men's Health and reveals that he didn't quite believe his new look until he went public with it on Instagram.
"I don’t want to discount people who genuinely have debilitating body issues. I don’t have that. But I did start getting some body dysmorphia," he says. "I’d look in the mirror and I’d see my abs -- and when I looked again, they would fade. I would just see the flaws."
"When I saw that reaction was when I was like, 'OK, I clearly don’t see what’s actually there,'" Nanjiani continues. "It’s something that I’m trying to be aware of and be better at, because that’s not a good way to be. You want to be easy on yourself."
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I never thought I’d be one of those people who would post a thirsty shirtless, but I’ve worked way too hard for way too long so here we are. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel’s Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked. I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world. I’m glad I look like this, but I also understand why I never did before. It would have been impossible without these resources and time. So big thanks to @grantrobertsfit who started working with me at the beginning of the year and made me understand true physical pain for months and months. Then, once we started shooting, a massive thanks to @davidhigginslondon and his team (@ellispartridge, @thebeardypt, @tomcheesemanfitness) for training me almost every day and making me strong, limber and injury free. I can almost touch my toes now. (And thank you for forcing me to do cheat meals David.) Matthews Street Catering for their delicious and healthy meals. And finally, the biggest thanks goes to @emilyvgordon for putting up with me complaining and talking about only working out and dieting for the last year. I promise I’ll be interesting again some day. #thirstyshirtless (Photo by @markupson.) (edit: I left off one very important person: @lancecallahan who trained me for 6 years and helped me build the foundation I could use to do this. Thank you!)
Nanjiani decided to get in incredible shape after being cast in the Marvel flick The Eternals, something that had been a lifelong dream for the actor.
"It was a pipe dream. But I was very strategic about it," he says. "I was like, 'I don’t want to be just part of a Marvel movie; I want to be a Marvel superhero.'"
After dedicating himself to getting ripped, Nanjiani hit the ground running, coming up with a meal plan, getting electric shocks administered in order to build more muscle, and working out to the point where he nearly vomited.
"I realized, if this is what working out is, I’ve never really worked out a moment in my life," he says. "... I had to change my relationship to pain. You’re so designed to avoid it, but in that situation you really have to be OK with it. You have to want it. It’s almost trying to rewire your brain."
Emily V. Gordon, Nanjiani's wife, tells the magazine that her husband "wasn’t able to focus on anything" after those early workouts.
"He was still a functioning person, but for an hour, you couldn’t really count on him to have a conversation. His body was adjusting," she says. "He’s obsessive. When Kumail gets into things, he gets really into things."
As for the public's reaction to Nanjiani's fit pics, Gordon recalls, "Half the messages I got that day were from people being like, 'Hey, I want to have sex with your husband,' and the other half were from people making sure I was OK with my husband’s naked body being everywhere."
"It took a very private thing from our lives and made it incredibly public," she says. "And all I could be was really proud, because he looks amazing."
When ET's Ash Crossan spoke with Nanjiani in January, he revealed his favorite celeb reaction to his body reveal.
"I like that The Rock said something about it," Nanjiani said, referencing Dwayne Johnson. "That was so cool. He called me brother and said, 'I know how hard it is'... That one felt great."