A change in lifestyle and only two kilos to go

It was just over three months since I started trying to lose the dreaded "Dubai Stone" and my appointment at the diet clinic was looming

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It was just over three months since I started trying to lose the dreaded "Dubai Stone" and my appointment at the diet clinic was looming. The extra pounds had crept on over a period of about seven months and I was determined to get rid of them before they became a permanent fixture. Under the guidance of doctors at The Weight Care Clinic at Dubai Healthcare City, I went on an almost no-fat diet rather than just low-fat, and although it started off slowly, I have been steadily losing small amounts every week and the shape of my body has definitely changed.

Shireen, the lovely assistant on the vegetable section of my local Choithram, was one of the first to notice. I see her every day, as buying fresh vegetables and fruit is part of my new regimen but I'm usually fairly well-covered up in working clothes. Earlier this week, however, I popped in on my way back from the gym (how easily that rolls off my tongue these days) wearing a stretchy top and she gasped accusingly: "Have you been dieting?"

"Yes," I replied, pleased, to which the rather deflating reply was,"Why?" I resisted the temptation to launch into a lecture about the merits of healthy eating, looking younger hopefully and feeling less sluggish and just said: "Because I was too fat." The aim was to lose 9kg of nasty old fat. A body composition analysis revealed that my percentage body fat was 38.5, about 10 per cent over the normal range. It had to go.

It has been a struggle at times, but the clinic doctors nursed me through the bad weeks, pinpointing foods and drinks that might be causing my weight loss to slow up and suggesting alternatives. I've been getting used to buying small amounts of food on a daily basis, rather than a walloping great shopping trolley load of fattening goodies and easy to cook processed foods. These days, I buy smaller portions of lean meat and replenish my stocks of flavoured water two or three time a week instead of fruit juices. I'm convinced that I would have fallen by the wayside weeks ago had it not been for Dr Rita Nawar's vigilance and encouragement. The clinic even texts me a reminder of appointments.

Still, it was with a certain amount of apprehension that I stepped onto the machine once again for another detailed analysis. As the figures started filling the screen, I could see that I hadn't quite made the deadline, but I wasn't sure how far off I was until I heard a delighted squeal from Dr Rita. Since the beginning of my low fat diet three months ago I have lost 7.8 kilos. It didn't sound much to me at first because I still think in pounds and ounces but when I worked it out to be 17.5 pounds I felt very pleased with myself. In other words, I've lost the Dubai Stone and then some.

Best of all, the body composition analysis machine showed the weight loss was all fat. I hadn't lost any muscle, which was in fairly good shape in the first place. I know it's true because I've had to have so many articles of clothing taken in. Even better, my fitness rating had gone up by eight points. Just another two kilos to go and I will be back into the "normal" range. That last two kilos, Dr Rita tells me, is the most difficult to shift. She explained: "The more fat you have, the faster you lose. So remember, this is the toughest stage as you don't have so much to lose. After you have reached your target, you just have to learn how to maintain it."

Pleased as I was at the news, it couldn't have come at a worse time. My new exercise guru Dan Harrison of U Concept in Jumeirah, Dubai, is off on holiday and I'm away soon too. After two sessions with Dan, I could hardly move for several days, but my muscles have stopped their screaming and I'm anxious not to lose impetus. The trouble is I'm not very good at self-motivation when it comes to gyms. I think I need someone to bully me a little. Twice this week I've found myself dressed in my exercise kit and my brand new trainers and both times I never made it to the gym. The first time I was in the car and half way there I caught sight of the traffic on Maktoum Bridge and chickened out. The second time - well what does it matter. The bottom line was I made an excuse. I know perfectly well that if I was paying for a personal trainer's valuable and not cheap time, I would have gone.

While Dan's away I'm going to check out a different type of gym that specialises in a form of circuit training for women only. It's a 30-minute total body workout, which doesn't sound like much but you need to do it every day. We'll just have to see how it fits into my lifestyle.