Chef’s diet

On the third week of his diet chal­lenge, celebrity chef Tarek Ibrahim hires a per­sonal trainer.

Friday - - Friday Contents -

This week I knew I’d have to dig deep. The thought of hav­ing to get up at 5am for an hour-long work­out ses­sion was truly aw­ful. How­ever, it’s the only time I can be at the gym as dur­ing the work­ing day I am busy with writ­ing recipes and plan­ning my TV shows and evenings are for in­dus­try events. So I had no choice but to start early!

I hauled my­self out of bed and to Fit­ness First’s gym for my first ses­sion with per­sonal trainer Rick. While the thought of achiev­ing my goal weight got me there, Rick kept me there. He was very en­cour­ag­ing as he took me through a gen­tle warmup on the tread­mill. As he upped the pace on the run­ning ma­chine I found my­self puff­ing and turn­ing red. “Come on, you can do it,” Rick said and I man­aged 10 min­utes at al­ter­nat­ing speeds.

Next, we moved on to press-ups and ab­dom­i­nal crunches fol­lowed by rep­e­ti­tions of 10 squats. Three weeks ago I couldn’t kneel down, and I vowed to do this ev­ery day for an hour. Af­ter some more car­dio, a 10-minute cool down and some stretch­ing, I felt great and full of en­ergy. My dread, in­er­tia and fear had faded away. I made my­self a prom­ise never to eat empty calo­ries again (apart from the odd piece of dark choco­late that is.)

When I stood on the scales at the end of the week, I was a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed that I’d only lost 1kg. But the fact I’ve lost 5kg in three weeks makes me happy. My neck is slim­mer and my belly is hang­ing less! I also re­cently slipped into a pair of Tommy Hil­figer trousers I’ve not been able to wear for two years. Now I know I’m on the right track.

Healthy if­tar Ra­madan is the most im­por­tant month of the year for me, a time to re­flect, and I re­ally look for­ward to the fam­ily gath­er­ings. I was seven years old when I started fast­ing and when I got through the first day I was very proud.

My mother al­ways pre­pares the if­tar food, but I cook cel­e­bra­tory meals for my fam­ily. This year a whole-boned stuffed lamb is on the menu. I used to in­dulge in huge if­tar buf­fets. They are out­stand­ing from a culi­nary per­spec­tive but this year I will be opt­ing for health­ier choices.

A typ­i­cal if­tar in our house­hold con­sists of a warm hearty soup, green salad and ei­ther a roast Aus­tralian leg of lamb or grilled beef. I’ll eat yo­gurt, eggs, fava beans and wa­ter­melon dur­ing suhour.

Ra­madan will help me fo­cus on achiev­ing my goals of drop­ping my weight to 83kg. That said, there will be tra­di­tional Ara­bic sweets in our house. I’ll try not to eat them all!

Spicing it up One of the eas­i­est ways to add flavour to food with­out up­ping the calo­rie count is to add spice. A top tip from me is to grill a beau­ti­ful cut of Aus­tralian beef and sim­ply add salt and pep­per. Pair with steamed broc­coli tossed in chilli flakes and lemon juice or roasted veg­gies sea­soned with basil and oregano for a Mediter­ranean flavour.

Buy dried chilli, turmeric, sumac, pa­prika, za’atar and fresh in­gre­di­ents such as tar­ragon, basil, le­mon­grass, gar­lic and lemons – they pack a flavour punch and are your weapons against calo­ries.

Over the past three weeks I’ve dis­cov­ered that mak­ing the men­tal shift is just as im­por­tant as the phys­i­cal shift. I’ve learned not to let my­self go hun­gry, to drink three litres of wa­ter a day and to make sure I ex­er­cise! Small changes re­ally work!

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