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