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Health / Fitness

The Key to maintaining a balanced lifestyle

In trying to be more active, get fitter and healthier it’s essential to have find a balanced lifestyle that works for you

People who go into an extreme calorie deficit actually begin to lose muscle rather than fat.

Being one of the biggest foodies out there as well as a fitness nut, I’m a big advocate of a balanced lifestyle. As well as keeping fit, one of my favourite things to do in life is eat. And, like the best of us from time to time, it’s not the always the healthiest of foods that I choose to gorge on.

So for me (and my fellow periodic binge eaters) staying in shape and maintaining a certain body composition means I need balance the other elements of my lifestyle accordingly.

And that’s precisely the point we all need to reach: balance. Ying and yang and all that other Zen nirvana stuff. So, how best to maintain a balanced lifestyle?

Caloric deficit

Unsurprisingly, nutrition plays a vital role in balancing your lifestyle out. So let’s first talk about food management.

To keep it simple, for anyone to lose body fat you need to be in a caloric deficit (consuming less calories than your body is burning throughout the day). For fat loss, this is a basic principle: burn more calories than you consume.

However, the deeper you go into a caloric deficit the harder it is to maintain for a long period. And in some cases, people who go into an extreme calorie deficit actually begin to lose muscle rather than fat because they don’t have a balanced nutritional mix in their system: it’s what the scientists call metabolic adaptation.

People who go into an extreme calorie deficit actually begin to lose muscle rather than fat.

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Most people have specific goals they would like to achieve: a certain percentage of body fat, a certain suit or waist size, those dazzling abs, and so on. But, once they realise the level of effort and dedication required to have that dreamy, washboard six-pack they are happy just keeping fit and healthy with less radical results, and then they take their foot off the fat-loss accelerator for a more sustainable lifestyle.

Cheat meals, not cheat days

The point here is that extremism is not good. In any sense of the word.

Enjoy being responsible with your food but without starving yourself. Here’s a quick fix: During the week I keep my calories lower than what I am burning to compensate for my cheat meals on the weekend. Limit yourself to one or two cheat meals (read: meals not cheat days) per week and you’re onto a winner — you’re already balancing out your diet in a healthier, more sustainable manner than before.

Now, once you’ve got your basic nutrition regimen scheduled and structured, you need to actually hit the gym.

To achieve a balanced lifestyle, you should aim to train 3-5 times per week, depending on your schedule, how much free time you have and how recently you signed up to get yourself that mythical Greek physique.

Tj Gray, general manager and Train Black master trainer at Bare fitness training facility in Business Bay

Don’t waste your time in the gym by yourself where there is no one to support give you that kick you need to actually do something worthwhile in there.

Find somewhere you actually enjoy going. Remember this is about balance, feeling comfortable with your lifestyle choices. And the gym you choose to attend is part and parcel of that balance and comfort (though you should always try to push yourself past your comfort zones when working out!)

I joined three CrossFit classes and two Black classes in the week at Bare. The vibe that our members bring to our training centre offers everyone a natural balance and necessary feeling of belonging: balancing out their work life and their leisure time.

Your training should be a combination of weight training and high intensity interval training (hiit). The reason for this is that your body will reach certain plateaus by doing similar workouts repeatedly. You need weight training thrown into the mix in order to break these plateaus. 3-5 one-hour sessions is all that is needed per week to get you underway.

During the week keep your calories lower what you burn off to compensate for cheat meals at the weekend

And when it comes to choosing when to train, tailor this to how you work best. Go when you feel you have the most energy: if you’re a morning person then train in the morning. If you need to relieve the stress of the workday at the gym, go after work. Simple.

For myself, I find that training throughout the week and resting over the weekend works well in maintaining my balanced work out regime. But it is a personal preference. Doing it this way allows me to push my limits for five days straight, knowing full well I have two days of guaranteed rest after it.

Low Maintenance

But don’t be afraid to use a little trial and error in finding your happy medium. When starting some sort of vigorous training, find what works for you. You may have to take a rest day after each training session.

A balanced lifestyle is extremely low maintenance once you know what works for you. A lot of this well stem from preparation, kick-starting a structured routine and organisation.

Train hard and push out of your comfort zone when you can. You cannot eat junk food all the time (as much as we would like to). So choose specific cheat meals in advance so you have something to look forward to. Most importantly, enjoy it, don’t do something if you hate doing it, find the balance for you.

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