Kerri Abrams signs up for a meal delivery service designed to help you eat well and lose weight.
WHAT I TRIED A meal delivery service that provides a consultation with a dietician, body analysis and prepared foods catered to the caloric needs of your body to lose weight.
WHAT I HOPED FOR While I know how to eat well and count calories, my social routine in Abu Dhabi had become such that I was eating out way too often. This translated to over-indulging and made any attempt to lose those last three kilograms nearly impossible. I figured that if I forked out the cash and paid for 30 days of meals up front, there would be no more excuses for a night of bingeing on Italian food. Also, taking taxis to Spinneys, where I would typically spend a small fortune for a few items of comfort food, seemed a habit I was also ready to give up.
WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR When I arrived, I met my dietician, Maha. After a brief chat about my exercise habits (I go to the gym at least five times per week) and my eating habits, I was hooked up to a machine (two clips on each hand and my feet placed into metal cups). I laid still for several minutes on an examination table while the machine beeped dauntingly. When the time was up, I was handed an analysis, which included a slew of numbers and measurements. Among these were my weight, body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI). I was given an overall fitness score of 80 (out of 100) and a target weight. I was told I would be put on a diet of 1,200 calories per day (the lowest they could safely provide) and to keep up my exercise and drink lots of water. I signed up to receive three meals a day plus two snacks. While the thought of not having to deal with the weekend madness at Spinneys sounded blissful, I wasn't sure I could do this. All the meals would be delivered to me daily (at home or the office). On Thursdays, they would deliver food for Friday. The price would include 30 days of food and a second consultation at the end.
MY HESITATION I don't consider myself a picky eater, but when I started to think about my restrictions, I realised that I was kidding myself. I don't eat anything that comes from the water, I am squeamish about meat that actually resembles meat (no bones, skin, etc), I hate certain cheeses, I hate deli meats. I will stop there, but let's just say I figured the dietician would tell me the service wasn't for me. Wrong. Maha was more than happy to take notes on all my food issues and said she would cater to them. I was also afraid my friends would tempt me into joining them for nights out for Mexican food. I would have to really work hard to not give in.
THE REALITY The first day, the delivery man arrived with my cooler pack of food. Maha had offered me two choices each day for lunch and dinner, but I couldn't remember what I had chosen. It felt like Christmas morning opening the pack. My three meals and two snacks were all packed neatly into individual, microwaveable containers. My friends teased that it reminded them of airline food. I was pretty surprised at how large the portions looked. Most of them anyway; I thought otherwise one day when my afternoon snack was four strawberries. Don't overindulge me! The first week was a bit tough as I felt hungry throughout the day and found myself watching the clock trying to space out my meals and snacks. One day they delivered fish, one day they forgot my salad and one Thursday they forgot to bring my food for Friday, but after a quick phone call to Maha, she sent back a driver with replacements. Any time I was given something I didn't like, I'd phone to ask her not to deliver that item again. In the 30 days, I had a few repeat snacks and breakfasts, but don't recall having the same lunch or dinner twice. I felt so good about how I was eating, the only time I cheated all month (and don't think my friends didn't try to drag me out many times) was when I took a long weekend in London.
THE PAYOFF I had my 30-day analysis after only cheating on my three days in London. I managed to lose 1.9kg; not a tonne, but still worth the effort. Surprisingly, though, my body fat percentage went up and muscle mass down. Maha seemed a bit thrown by this (as did I; after all, I gave up Mexican!). She seemed to think my three days in London could have been to blame. I'm not sure I buy that, but I did lose nearly all I had aimed to and so decided to sign up for one more month of the programme.
THE DETAILS The consultation with a dietician plus a body analysis and two follow-up visits costs Dh250. Food delivery (three meals, two snacks) is Dh80 per day. You can order with no breakfast for Dh73 per day or without dinner for Dh68 per day. Etihad frequent flyer members receive a 15 per cent discount. To make an appointment, call 02 6673999.
Tracy Anderson podcasts
We know you come up with excuses to avoid gym class; we admit to bailing on a few occasions, too. However, our tardiness and lardiness have come to an end with the help of Tracy Anderson, body perfecter to the stars. She's been visiting us in hotel rooms, our villa, coaching us wherever we may go. Albeit, not quite in person - you see, she's too busy putting Madonna and Gwyneth through their paces- but via her miraculous webisodes that can be downloaded straight to an iPod or laptop. Each one focuses on a different body part, and although they are classed as mini-workouts - they range between 10 and 20 minutes - they are still hardcore, and boy, do you feel the burn. Plus, they are quick enough to do every day and with no travel time, so it doesn't feel like such a chore. Anderson's approach is simple: she targets the little accessory muscles that line large muscle groups for a leaner version of you. Dh37 per month at www.traceyandersonconnect.com, updated monthly to keep you keen.
www.beautypedia.com There are thousands of beauty products on the market, but how do you know which ones do what they say they're meant to? All of them claim to be this, that or the other, from miracle creams that will reduce wrinkles, to mascaras that lengthen, curl and thicken. But have you ever questioned what you are really putting on your skin? Paula Begoun, also known as the Cosmetics Cop, has developed a website that explores these questions and more. Beautypedia.com is the expanded online edition that stems from her best-selling book, Don't Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me. The site carries reviews on every skin-care and make-up product on the cosmetics market: make that 40,000 products to be precise, updated weekly. Begoun buys and tries, then offers science-based reviews on the product's composition and whether it delivers what it promises, rating it against competitors. She also posts the latest news on product launches, so you'll always know when your favourite brand is releasing something new. Subscribe for Dh92 per year and see whether the products in your make-up kit are all that they claim to be.