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Archive for the tag “Kim Lyon”

What about the Moms?

It is all too easy to forget about the Carer, the person who is expected to keep it all together 24/7. For the first time, an event was arranged for mothers of children with special needs at the HOPE Center in April.  Moms were taken completely by surprise with the events of the day as they were pampered and indulged, and returned home feeling calmer and happier, ready to face a new day.

Between 9am-1pm, mothers were guided through a series of events which included counselling activities, group discussion and relaxation. The energy levels gradually increased over the morning, reaching a crescendo with a Zumba session. Thanks to generous sponsorship from local companies, the ladies went home with an ample goodie bag along with a sense of rejuvenation.

The schedule for the day had deliberately been kept secret so as to surprise the mothers, who came with open-minds and open hearts.

Uzma Raheem, The Center Director, said: “We hope this will be a first in a series of workshops for the parents. Our aim is to continue to provide psycho-education, boost morale and build support between the mothers.

Head of student affairs and counseling, Kim Lyon, said: “We did a pre- and post-test to see the change in the mothers’ moods.  The forms showed a significant increase in positive feelings, which was very rewarding for us.

“Every lady who attended said they would like to see more of such workshops, and we believe that these can make a big difference to their general well-being. It is exciting to be facilitating such programs here in Jeddah.”

If you were one of the moms present, we would love to hear your thoughts. Drop a quick comment to let us know. Or even if you were not there, what do you think of this initiative?

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?

Book Club with Kim Lyon

For book lovers who enjoy some discussion and introspection after a read.

Book Club Advert

Do we really need Professional Therapy?

In this month’s mental well-being column, trainee therapist Kim Lyon discusses whether we really need professional therapy and points us towards many centres in Jeddah offering help from life coaching to more intense consultations. If you, or someone you know feels they need help to get their life back on track, then do share this post with them.

Imagine you are at a social event, talking to someone new. “What do you do?” They say, “I’m a psychologist.” Do you suddenly find an excuse to move away? The truth is psychology doesn’t have a glamorous reputation. Spread through the media or otherwise, an array of misconceptions exist around psychology and therapy. There is a stigma attached to seeking out a professionally-trained ear when times are tough.

Many people do not question spending a couple of hundred riyal on a personal trainer, or a tutor. Yet when it comes to their mental well-being, there may be a reluctance to spend money. Or, a person may not know where to find the help they’re looking for. They may go to the doctor and take a prescription for Prozac or some such, which may only mask symptoms.

Person Whisperer

Times are changing in Saudi Arabia. In Jeddah there are a growing number of mental health resources, and a far cry from dingy psychiatric wards. Maabar Social Consultancy and the ACT Centre are two such places in Jeddah, where discretion and confidentiality are paramount. Both are private independently run buildings, designed to feel homely and with a relaxing atmosphere. The ACT Center aims to provide a safe space for people to come and talk.

It may come as a surprise to learn of the variety of therapies that are happening in Jeddah. Cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness, meditation, art therapy, family therapy, couples counseling, and play therapy are all on offer. Reiki, energy flow and parenting workshops are also available. The website Psych Central has an excellent description of each type of therapy. Or, if you’re still unsure, stop by for a complimentary consultation.

Defense Mechanism

If you are feeling stuck in an area of your life, or your self-esteem has taken a knock, then perhaps a few sessions of life-coaching could help put you back on track. Change is never easy, but part of a psychologist’s job is to elicit and effect transformation. Many of your resolves for the New Year may have faded, but perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board, and make some investment in me, myself and I. Life’s a journey, so clear out some emotional baggage and prepare to travel light!

How to Say ‘No’

I would hazard a guess that most of us suffer from the ‘disease to please’. Learn to say no and to let go, in this invaluable workshop by trainee therapist Kim Lyon.

Learning How To Say No

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.

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