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