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Archive for the tag “health”

Mind Over Matter – Losing Weight with Kim Lyon

Would you say you are happy with your current weight? Statistics show that most people feel they are not doing enough to stay healthy. With the searing weather and sedentary lifestyle in Saudi Arabia, the aspiration to lose weight can be an arduous one.

In this month’s mental well-being article, trainee therapist and Jeddah Blog columnist Kim Lyon discusses the obesity crisis in Saudi Arabia. She outlines various methods of weight-loss, with the mind being arguably the most effective of all.

losing weight


Weight-loss clinics are mushrooming around Jeddah. Some of them arrange specially formulated meals to be delivered to your door. Others promote bariatric surgery, while yet others tout quick fixes using appetite suppressants and magical weight loss pills. There are hundreds of books on the market, countless sites on the web, and increasing numbers of applications we can bring into our homes. Yet, something is amiss.

Saudi Arabia has an alarming obesity rate. In 2008, the WHO cited 43.5% of females over twenty as being obese, and 29.5% of men. Search ‘obesity’ in the local newspaper archives and you’ll find at least one story per week. Obesity and overweight are major risk factors for diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Obesity doesn’t do much for our mental well-being, either. It can lower self-esteem, confidence, and contribute to depression.

weight loss exercise


Healthy Living

There are several routes to weight loss. The first option is healthy living, in which you’ll develop a healthy eating plan that doesn’t require any special foods. It’ll include physical activity which may be a commitment to being more active on a daily basis.

weight loss diet


Lifestyle Changes

The second option is weight loss through lifestyle changes. This requires a commitment to changing your lifestyle, restricting your food intake and using a more structured fitness regime.


The third option is adding medication to the weight loss effort, such as ones that reduce appetite or minimize the absorption of specific nutrients. Research has shown that medication is not usually successful if administered without lifestyle changes. With this option it’s particularly important to be monitored by your physician for side effects.

weight loss counselling


Weight-loss Surgery

The fourth and final option is weight-loss surgery. These surgeries, including the gastric bypass or gastric banding, alters the amount of nutrients you absorb through your intestine, or the amount of food you can consume. Such measures should be the final resort, as long-term medical care is required afterwards. As with all of these options, surgery is not a magic fix, and also demands changes to how and what you eat.

weight loss CBT 2


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

In trying to lose weight, our self-worth may become tied to the number on the scale. Weight loss isn’t necessarily the best strategy for improving body image, as many people regain at least some of the weight they lose, with an even body image when they’ve gained back even a little weight. Before you know it, your mood starts to yo-yo along with your weight. Research has shown that lasting improvements to body image have resulted from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for body image. This is a method of counselling which helps a person change the way they think about themselves.

weight loss CBT


There is also mounting evidence for using CBT to aid any attempt of weight loss. Along with changing what you eat, it’s important to change how you think about food. This is particularly important if you use food to combat negative feelings or stress. Working with a counsellor, you’ll set realistic goals and build on them. By tracking your eating behaviours, you’ll be able to identify patterns and tackle them. Being accountable to someone, and having ongoing support in your weight loss journey, is also invaluable.

What do you have to lose?

How To Walk Off Your Stress

Kim Lyon is a trainee therapist at the ACT Center. Each month she’ll be writing for Jeddah Blog about a particular  aspect of mental well-being. She offers counselling services to the expat community in Jeddah, helping to ease the stresses of moving abroad through workshops and individual sessions. An expat herself, Kim is in a good position to understand the difficulties an expat may face.

In this first blog post, Kim will be talking about the health benefits of exercise and giving us some great tips on how we can take steps to keep fit. If you are like many of us who have transportation constraints and find it difficult to get to a gym, Kim will give you some great ideas on how to get moving without even leaving your living room.

If you have any questions for Kim, leave them at the end of this blog post, and she’ll get back to you.

2015 has arrived, and no doubt many of us are resolving to be healthier this year.  Gym owners delight as people flock to sign up for memberships. While you are thinking about your good intentions for the coming months, consider also the mental benefits of working out.

Exercise is a great stress reliever. It releases feel good chemicals, endorphins, into our blood and lowers levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone. Studies have shown that exercise can boost our memories and levels of self-confidence. Team sports can be an opportunity to socialize and learn new skills. Using energy gives us energy, though sometimes it’s a matter of getting started.

brain exercise

There are an increasing number of gyms in Jeddah, including chains such as Fitness First, Fitness Time, and Gold’s Gym. A quick Google search reveals many independent gyms across the city, too. For women, Olympia (behind Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital), Gold’s Gym and some of the high-end hotels have gyms, although memberships are extremely expensive.

Thankfully, incorporating exercise into your lifestyle doesn’t have to mean long sweaty hours at the gym or spending lots of money on equipment. The Middle Corniche and Main Corniche are excellent, safe places to walk, often with the added benefit of a breeze.  Walkways have become quite popular and the promenade along the Flood Canal Street in Rawdah is a great place to walk.  If mall-walking appeals, head to Al Salaam Mall or the Mall of Arabia. Both are usually quiet in the mornings and can offer a good walk. If you fancy hiking in the desert, look up Jeddah Backpackers or the Hash Harriers. Research has shown that walking can increase our immunity, bone density and mood. It also can act as a free insurance policy against heart disease and obesity.

“Using energy gives us energy”

You don’t even need to leave your living room. Second-hand fitness equipment can be found online at sites such as, while fitness DVDs are available at Virgin Megastore. You may also want to check expat groups for fitness instructors offering private classes.

Youtube is a surprisingly great resource. Type in salsa, kick-boxing, tae bo, step-intervals – anything you are interested in – and you’ll likely find a workout or two! FitnessBlender has a huge selection of no-nonsense workouts catering for all levels of fitness.

While yoga is typically hailed as good for relaxation, we don’t all have the inclination to become human pretzels, and that’s ok. However, I would urge you to try it, because it’s such an excellent mind-body workout. has an amazing selection of different types of classes which you can stream or download, and is well-worth checking out no matter your age or ability.

Great weather for an evening walk.

Jeddah walkways are great for an evening walk or jog.

If you consider yourself a diehard couch potato, hopefully this article will prompt you to think again. Don’t follow the crowd or fitness trends. Think about what you like to do.  Extroverts might be more attracted to fitness with a social element, so might consider dance, tennis or team games, while introverts might prefer more solitary pursuits like swimming and hiking.

Please do consult your physician if you haven’t exercised in a long time. Don’t rush into a fitness program, and don’t push yourself to workout intensely everyday. Build up slowly from twenty minutes of exercise, two or three times a week. Aim to include activities you enjoy.  As with any commitment to a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to build sustainable habits.

15 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

Please join me in welcoming our newest guest writer to Jeddah Blog, Dr. Saba Aslam Epthorp. Dr Saba is a gynaecologist from Delhi, North India and has worked at Al Abeer medical centre as a specialist from 2007-2012. She has a number of versatile interests which we will persuade her to discuss with us at some point in the future, but for now she has very kindly agreed to share her tips and information on pregnancy – a must read for all expectant mums (and dads), especially for first-time parents-to-be.


To experience pregnancy is every woman’s dream come true. Some conceive naturally and others through lots of treatment and struggle.

On a visit to the doctor during pregnancy, a couple may harbour many questions, such as whether it will be a normal delivery or whether it will be a C- section. One of the most common questions patients ask me is whether they can know the sex of the baby.

Well my dear ladies, the whole process of pregnancy is much more than knowing the gender of the baby or what kind of delivery you will have. You have a full 38 weeks to carry this pregnancy, in other words it is a 9 month process. No doctor in the world can tell you on your first visit whether it will be a girl or boy, or whether you will deliver normally, or otherwise. Especially if it is your first baby, keep in mind that each course of pregnancy is different. Even if your first child was delivered normally, the second is not guaranteed to also be a normal delivery. It all depends on a variety of factors.

Baby feet


1) Confirm your pregnancy with a blood test if you have missed your periods for over 5 weeks. Always tell your doctor about your last menstrual date (if you remember).

2) If the test shows up negative you should still wait for ten days and do not take any medicines to start your periods, because sometimes, even if it is negative, you still could be pregnant.

3)  Likewise, if the home urine pregnancy test shows up as positive, that also does not confirm that you are pregnant.

4) Always confirm with a Serum Pregnancy Test which will show beta hCG hormones which are produced in large quantities in the blood during pregnancy. Non-pregnant levels are too low to show up in the test, so if this hormone level has increased and you have missed your periods, it confirms that you are pregnant.

5) Once it is confirmed that you are pregnant ladies, the next step is that you have to get your blood work done. This means that you need to get your Complete Blood Count, Routine Urine Test, Blood Group and Rh type. And you will need your screening for HIV, HbsAg, HCV and Random Blood Sugar Test.

6) All patients ask me why they must undergo these tests. Well dear ladies, it is for your own good and for the baby. When the doctor asks you for these tests, she is assessing your baseline which in medical terms we call pre-pregnancy blood work. Pregnancy brings about lots of changes in a woman, other than weight gain. For example, the heart changes, kidney function changes, blood volume , Haemoglobin, protein and liver. In non-medical language ladies, your entire body changes with the growing fetus.

7) Therefore always listen to your doctor when he/she asks you to get your investigation done. It for your own good and for baby. Regarding HIV/ HCV/ HBsAg,  it is a must-do test, which is made mandatory by the American Society and Royal Obstetrics Societies and WHO as HIV is a silent and dangerous disease which affects the baby too. If not detected during the screening in early pregnancy, and discovered only later in pregnancy then not only you but even the unborn baby is at high risk. You doctor will ask you to get yourself screened as there are ways to prevent transmission from mother to baby.

The next question I am asked by patients is why the blood group test is required. Blood group type and Rh is important in order to know your haemoglobin levels. Rh type decides whether you are A+ OR B+ OR AB+. In the event of any bleeding or complications during pregnancy, the doctor should be able to inform the blood bank in the hospital to keep your blood type ready in case you need a transfusion. Please note that this test is done only once. You don’t need to repeat it for each pregnancy.

8) HIV HCV and HBsAG is done every two years. Not more frequently than that.

9) Always be cooperative with your visiting doctor when you are asked to be examined for your blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature and weight. All this is important for your doctor to have your baseline. When you visit next, she will know how well your pregnancy is advancing.

10) Now coming to how often you should visit the doctor. It all depends on whether you are experiencing any symptoms of vomiting, abdomen pain, cramping or spotting etc. The warning signs will ascertain when you have to return for a follow-up.

11) According to the WHO and ACOG a woman must be registered. This means that you must go to the hospital and register yourself with your doctor. You must then complete at least three visits in the first three months, at least two visits in your second trimester and two in your last trimester.

In simple terms, make sure to visit your doctor every month in your first three months. Once you reach your fourth month, you have to visit twice; once in your fifth month and then in your sixth month.

12) Each visit you have to bring your previous visit reports and scan reports. The first scan is very important as it will give a clear idea of how old your baby is, and to check for any signs of any abnormality. So NEVER ignore your first scan. Even if the doctor has not specified it, as a patient you can ask your doctor to refer you for an early pregnancy scan if you are over seven weeks due.

13) Please take your medicines prescribed by your attending doctor. Do not ignore them. Apart from folic acid 5mg after food, you can take any other supplements, but avoid any other paracetamol or antibiotics as it does affect the growth of the baby.

14) If you have sadly had an early abortion in the past, or your baby had been born dead, or the baby died after giving birth, or even died after 4 years, you must tell your doctor. Giving all of your history to your doctor is absolutely vital as she will be better equipped to take care of you and your baby in this pregnancy. She will be able to advise you about precautions or don’ts in this pregnancy.

15) The most important thing is to trust your doctor because during the 9 month period it is important for us to develop a healthy relationship with the patient. In case you feel you cannot trust your doctor, then go ahead and change her.

I always tell my patients that if they think I’m not doing my job as a doctor then they can visit someone else. Since the role of the doctor is to take care of not only the mother but the growing baby too, if you cannot trust her advice and opinion then change the doctor. Of utmost importance is the health of you and your baby.



If you get any of the following signs or symptoms in first three months go visit your doctor immediately, irrespective of time and day. Do not delay.

1. Pain Abdomen; cramps, or backache.

2. Vomiting more than 3 times in a day.

3. Spotting/ Brownish red color discharge/ single episode of fresh bleeding.

4. Severe nausea, loss of appetite, severe gastritis or acid reflux.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms from 4-6 months of pregnancy

1. Any fresh bleeding or lower abdomen pain

2. Hardening of your abdomen. Very frequent or any watery discharge or fresh water.

3. Fetal movement less than 10 times a day, ie you haven’t felt your baby move at least 10 times in a day.

Symptoms which warrant a visit to the doctor in the last three months, during which you must visit the doctor every fortnight

1. Keep a watch on any watery fluid being discharged.

2. Fresh bleeding.

3. Severe cramps at regular intervals accompanied by bleeding.

If you have any questions that have not been covered by Dr. Saba in this blog post, leave a comment at the end of this post and we will pass them on to her. Good luck – we wish you all bouncing, healthy babies!

Educational Guided Tour to Organic & Health Food Store

Join Detox Expert and Holistic Nutritional Coach Hanane Serhan and Holistic Life Coach Alicia Ali, on a fully guided tour to Jeddah’s  number 1 Organic and Health Foods Store.

Venturing into a Health food store without guidance and deep understanding, either in The Kingdom or any other country, can be an intimidating experience. The purpose of this Guided Tour is to empower you to be a conscious consumer for Super Health and Wellbeing, for You and Your Family.

“Let Food be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food” 

You will Learn The Basics of:

Health Product Uses and Benefits
Organic Foods & Beverages
Medicinal Mushrooms & Sea Weeds
Juicing & Sprouting
Chemical Free Self Care Products
Holistic essentials for creating a Juicy Kitchen

The Keys to Unlocking Vitality, The Thriving Factor and Inner Balance is in YOUR Kitchen!

2 hour session will include a Q & A with facts and guidance on creating a powerful change in your shopping cart and in your kitchen.

Meeting & Greetings: 9.45 am
Where: In Front of The Store/ Check Map (see Facebook Event page below)
Ticket Price: 150 SR Per Person

Tickets can be purchased online here.

Alicia Ali, Holistic Life Coach and Hanane Melkia Serhan, Holistic Nutritional Coach and Detox Expert provide a multi array of holistic services in Saudi Arabia through their respective organizations, Your True Nature and Holistic Juicy Living. Check out their Facebook event page for further details and purchase of tickets.

Let’s Start Campaign: Anti-Obesity Drive

Jeddah Blog is delighted to introduce the ‘Let’s Start’ campaign to its readers which is an initiative by Tefal and Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital (DSFH), implemented by Tamkeen Sustainability Advisors.


“Let’s Start” is a campaign which aims to spread awareness and change behaviour among children and mothers in order to adopt a healthy lifestyle in Saudi Arabia.

The campaign organizers say:

“Sahsouh, our healthy character, is your friend who cares about your health and will help you eat well and get active. With Sahsouh you’ll find loads of tips, recipes and advice to make a change for life. Join us and let’s start creating a balance. With us you can simply be healthy..”

Free Annual Membership!
By simply joining their page, you will have the chance to win a free annual membership in the Olympia Fitness Centre of Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital. Read on for the competition details:

“Best Healthy Recipe Contest”
The healthy recipe contest is open for all children and their mothers.


Send the recipe you create along with the ingredients and instructions to their email address:

They will receive submissions from 12 October 2011 to 21st December 2011.

How can you win?
They will analyze recipes based on how healthy & appealing they are to kids. 20 semi-finalist will be selected by the DSFH nutritionist for the final stage of the contest.  Selected recipe submitters will be contacted to attend the ceremony along with her child and the dish she sent in. 3 children will taste the prepared dishes and will judge them based on taste and appeal. The 20 semi finalist recipes will be launched on their campaign website.

What can you get?
The winning mother will get a 1 year membership in the Olympia gym at the Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital. The winning child will get a one year membership in the Olympia gym.

Physical fitness at the Olympia Gym.

Weekly Event
In the weekly event, they invite students from different schools each week to engage them in physical activities, Q&As with the Specialist and impart important tips about their nutrition and well-being. Healthy snacks are provided by Tefal.

The session is conducted every Monday in the Olympia gym, and follows this schedule:

11:00am-11:30am Registration & height and weight measurements
11:30am-12:00pm Exercise class (aerobics)
12:00pm-12:30pm Nutritionist and Educators Q&A , interactive talk with students
12:30pm-1:00pm Sample healthy snacks provided by Tefal and take pictures with characters
1:00pm Students leave court

If you would like to register in the weekly event, simply fill in the online form here.

– Sabaa Ali

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