Weight-loss and health challenge for the women of Al Reem Island

A group of women on Al Reem Island are competing to be the biggest losers in a homegrown community weight-loss challenge.

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ABU DHABI // A group of women on Al Reem Island are competing to be the biggest losers in a homegrown community weight-loss challenge.

The annual competition was started by residents of the Sun and Sky Towers three years ago and expanded for the first time this year to allow any woman living on the island to join.

Rania Wreikat, one of the founders of the Abu Dhabi Ladies Weight Loss Challenge, said she was motivated to do something about her health when she put on weight following her marriage and the birth of her three children.

“Just to be healthier, you know?”

Mrs Wreikat said she had lost nine kilograms since taking part in the first weight-loss challenge by hiring a personal trainer and “eating cleaner”.

“I’m taking it one step at a time,” said Mrs Wreikat, 35, a Jordanian. “Before, I always failed because I always looked at the big number and said ‘I can’t do it’. I only gained all this weight after getting married and having three kids. I never had the time for me, you know, to lose it.”

Now she makes time to exercise with a personal trainer, plan healthy meals and organise the eight-week competition, which helps her to stay motivated, she said.

“I like doing it in a group where you have support and you have people who share ideas and pointers,” Mrs Wreikat said. “It’s more fun.”

To participate, each woman had to pay Dh100 into a pool of prize money.

Their first weigh-in was on Wednesday. At the end of eight weeks, whoever loses the most weight will take home 70 per cent of the prize money, with the remainder going to whoever finishes second.

“This way we have more happy losers,” Mrs Wreikat posted on the Facebook page she created for the 39 members.

To keep the participants motivated, Mrs Wreikat also posts inspirational messages and nutrition and exercise tips. It is also where members organise group exercise and walking sessions. Those taking part can also get support from each other on a WhatsApp group.

Past experience has taught Mrs Wreikat that participants have to be committed and engaged if they are to stand a chance of winning.

“Commit and come to the group exercises,” she said. “Try to make time for yourselves to be healthier and fitter.”

Taking the time to work out a weekly meal plan was also key, she said.

“They should do their shopping in advance because our problem with our lifestyles is we don’t have time to shop for healthy food,” she said.

Mrs Wreikat said she was also motivated by her children.

“I want to have a healthy lifestyle for my kids. I want them to be healthy,” she said.