‘The Dubai stone’ – a catchy expression that we’ve all long accepted as medical fact. Put simply, it is borne of the theory that living in Dubai will result in your regular weight increasing by somewhere in the region of 6.35029318kg – for those of us raised with the metric system – after a matter of weeks spent Friday brunching and walking nowhere. It is as inevitable as death and taxes (and yes, clever clogs, you do indirectly pay taxes here).
The Dubai stone happened to you (probably), and yes, it happened to me, even after I swore it wouldn’t. About a year ago, I refused to accept this in-built excuse for added girth. People whining about their favourite jeans feeling a little more snug would hear from friends: ‘Don’t worry, it’s just the Dubai stone. Everyone gets it’. Hogwash, I would think. There’s no magic spell that causes one’s Mirdif – sorry, midriff – to expand as soon as one lands in DXB. Gravity is the same here as it is in any other city in the world. It comes down to simple maths: if you eat more calories than you burn off, you put on weight.
So I carried on playing plenty of sport and eating (reasonably) well, and felt as spry as I had for some time.
And then it happened.
The clouds vanished, cool breezes disappeared, bars and restaurants slammed their doors shut. Summer had struck. Suddenly, popping to the shops to pick up some lean meat and fresh vegetables seemed akin to a pilgrimage across the Sahara. So what did I do? I did what we all do – I reached for my phone and ordered a takeaway.
In a city where a simple phone call can summon every delicious fatty delight your brain can possibly imagine – cheeseburgers, pizza… cheeseburger pizza (a real dish: we’ve reviewed it) – it’s not easy to maintain a healthy diet. Before I knew it, I had become just another Dubai statistic – and in my case, that statistic was 97kg.
Summer disappeared, but soon it was Christmas. Having never been one for new year’s resolutions, it was February before I forced myself to swap the bread for broccoli and the chips for cauliflower. After weeks of relative abstinence, I returned to my regular fighting weight of about 91kg, and I’m determined not to fall back into the takeaway trap.
Summer is once again upon us, and this year I’m stocking up on vegetables. My fridge will be so green and leafy it’ll resemble an Amazon rainforest. My fruit bowl will runneth over. My jeans need worry not about being stretched to their fibrous limits. Although I never did try that cheeseburger pizza...
Jamie Goodwin is our assistant online editor. We have confiscated his mobile phone until after summer.