Lively

Friday - - Living -

Tested by Karen Pasquali Jones, Fri­day Ed­i­tor The con­cept: Lively healthy cui­sine pre­pares and de­liv­ers whole­some, ap­petis­ing meals tai­lored to each per­son’s re­quire­ments. The ex­pe­ri­ence: Af­ter be­ing weighed and hav­ing my body an­a­lysed on a spe­cial ma­chine to cal­cu­late the en­tire make up of ev­ery kilo (in­clud­ing wa­ter, skeleton and fat), along with my meta­bolic rate and BMI, I met Lively’s chief clin­i­cal di­rec­tor and li­cenced di­eti­cian, Tina Choueiri Chagoury.

The bad news? I was 20kg over­weight, with a high meta­bolic rate (so no ex­cuses there – I burn a lot of calo­ries nat­u­rally while sit­ting do­ing noth­ing, which is lucky be­cause that is what I mainly do).

The good news? Tina was con­vinced I’d be able to lose 10kg in two months on the 1,200 calo­ries a day pro­gramme she was putting me on. That sounded like mea­gre ra­tions, but she re­as­sured me it would be enough. “But you have to ex­er­cise at least three times a week for an hour each time,” she in­sisted. “It’s hard to lose enough weight just by re­duc­ing calo­ries.” I promised to visit the gym in my block, go swim­ming in the pool and play ten­nis. At the worst, I vowed to buy an ex­er­cise DVD to do at home. I pinned my body anal­y­sis (al­most 40 per cent fat. Eek!) on my fridge as a bit of thin­spi­ra­tion. The menu: Be­fore I’d even ar­rived back in my of­fice, the cui­sine di­eti­cian had emailed me my first week’s menu. There was a huge choice, and it seemed I’d be eat­ing lots. First there was break­fast, then a mid-morn­ing snack, an ap­pe­tiser, main lunch dish, veg­eta­bles or side salad, an af­ter­noon snack, then din­ner with a soup or salad.

With op­tions such as jam and toast or pan­cakes for break­fast, and broc­coli pesto pasta and stew with po­tato cubes and rice for lunch, I won­dered how I’d eat all the side dishes and din­ners in­clud­ing spaghetti Napoli­tana and Mdar­d­arah rice with lentils.

I was right. A gi­ant bag ar­rived packed with food ev­ery day and I strug­gled to get through it all. But if the quan­tity was an is­sue, the qual­ity wasn’t. Ev­ery morsel was de­li­cious and cooked per­fectly.

I knew from the web­site blurb that Lively uses only the fresh­est in­gre­di­ents, but it didn’t boast about the chef’s tal­ents enough – ev­ery­thing was cooked im­pec­ca­bly. My spaghetti was al dente, and the salad crisp with light, but tasty dress­ings. By the end of the first week, I had eaten so much I was con­vinced I’d put on weight, but I’d lost 1kg, so was pleased. Pros: I was never hun­gry, and had so much choice I didn’t eat the same meal twice even though I was on the plan for a month. The food was tasty and well cooked. Cons: There was too much food, and it be­came a chore to get through it all. I also didn’t have the time to do the re­quired ex­er­cise so I thought I should have eaten less. In the end, I was shar­ing sal­ads, snacks and ap­pe­tis­ers with my hus­band and col­leagues as I was too full. Tina told me not to eat the af­ter­noon snack un­less I did a work­out, which helped, but for some peo­ple this would have been a prob­lem as it was the only sweet item on the menu (and the peanut but­ter cook­ies were de­li­cious.)

It was a no-frills menu. I was on the gourmet plan and would have pre­ferred smaller por­tions that were more high-end.

I also for­got to fill in my menu choices one week as I was so busy, and that meant the cui­sine di­eti­cian

soup to de­li­cious birya­nis, Lively of­fers tasty meal plans for both veg­e­tar­i­ans and meat-eaters chose for me, and I didn’t en­joy those meals as much. But that was my fault, and I made sure I didn’t miss the dead­line again. Re­sult: Fan­tas­tic – even though I was full, I lost a steady 1kg per week and lost 4kg by the end. If I had stayed on the plan for another month I ex­pect I would have lost another 4kg – close to the 10kg promised by Tina, even though I hadn’t done any ex­er­cise (or even taken the ex­er­cise DVD out of the wrap­per). Verdict: This is an easy-to-fol­low plan with plenty of choices and tasty dishes. There is so much food that it doesn’t feel like a diet.

And the scales don’t lie – the plan works. If I’d fol­lowed the chief clin­i­cal of­fi­cer’s ad­vice I would have had quite dra­matic re­sults.

As it was I still lost a lot of weight with ab­so­lutely zero ef­fort. I sim­ply had to open my Lively bag ev­ery day and eat! They did all the hard work for me. Price and de­tails: Dh4,400 for the gourmet menu for 28 days. Call 04 348 1008, email info@lively.ae or visit www.lively.ae.

From whole­some lentil

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