Chef’s diet

It’s week four of chef Tarek Ibrahim’s diet chal­lenge and he’s been faced with lots of temp­ta­tion...

Friday - - Friday Contents -

This week was al­ways go­ing to be tough. I’ve found the past three weeks quite easy, since start­ing my LiveWell plan, but I had to go trav­el­ling for work, and knew be­ing away from home would test me.

As a Mas­ter Chef I judge com­pe­ti­tions all over the world and fre­quently give train­ing ses­sions, demon­stra­tions or cook for spe­cial events across the Mid­dle East. This week I had to be in Saudi Ara­bia train­ing 160 man­agers and su­per­vi­sors in the art of meat han­dling and meat cut­ting along­side Greg But­ler, a mas­ter butcher from Bris­bane, Aus­tralia.

I’d got used to my healthy rou­tine and be­ing able to plan my meals around reg­u­lar gym ses­sions at Fit­ness First. I packed my gym kit, though, and the fat photo of my­self along­side my chef whites and knives to keep me on track. But on ar­rival in Dam­mam I re­alised the food at the ho­tel was very limited. A buf­fet lunch of­fered white pas­tas, chips, curry, creamy mous­saka and burg­ers. Even the veg­gies were doused in thick but­tery sauces. Din­ner was much the same.

The train­ing ran from 8am un­til 4pm with only a quick break for lunch. So I fo­cused on hav­ing a good break­fast of fruit and scram­bled eggs be­fore fac­ing the calo­rie-laden lunch buf­fet. I opted for a small por­tion of white rice (there were no brown op­tions) and a dol­lop of creamy curry that looked like it was swim­ming in oil. And, as I was be­ing bad, I had the naan bread to go with it. I felt a pang of guilt with ev­ery bite.

That evening I headed to the ho­tel gym. It was packed and all the ma­chines were oc­cu­pied. I also felt so tired and slug­gish from not eat­ing prop­erly all day, so I just gave up and went to bed.

By the third and fi­nal day in the ho­tel I’d strayed from my eat­ing plan with more curry, lasagne, and spaghetti. And I made the mis­take of step­ping on to the scales in the bath­room. Dis­as­ter! I had put on 1kg!

“What’s the point of do­ing this at all?” I thought for a fleet­ing mo­ment. I just wanted to find the near­est sweet stash and dive into it. I had worked so hard over the past three weeks and was notic­ing a real dif­fer­ence in my physique. Now I’d put on a kilo in three days!

Fed up, I got some dark choco­late from the ho­tel mini bar and scoffed it in one go. But I couldn’t let this set­back push me off course for good.

I men­tally pulled up my boot­straps by re­mind­ing my­self that I’d al­ready lost 5kg and must keep go­ing.

I headed out to the mall to pow­er­walk off the choco­late, re­turn­ing an hour and a half later out of breath but feel­ing bet­ter.

Be­fore I checked out of the ho­tel I vowed my week would be bet­ter from there on­wards. And if the next ho­tel didn’t have any healthy op­tions I’d march into the kitchen and make my­self some­thing! Luck­ily the Radis­son Blu in Riyadh had a very var­ied menu. I or­dered some fresh fruit fol­lowed by a two-egg omelette for break­fast, had a salad for lunch and, for din­ner, I en­joyed quinoa sal­ads, grilled fish and fresh veg­gies.

The ho­tel also had a won­der­ful gym that I went to ev­ery day for 40 min­utes do­ing a com­bi­na­tion of car­dio and weights.

At the end of a tir­ing but fan­tas­tic week it was time to step back on the scales. I was re­lieved to see that the ex­tra kilo from ear­lier in the week had van­ished.

I’m bound to have slip-ups, but get­ting back on track and look­ing for­ward is the main thing.

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