El-Tanein Diet Week #20

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Before heading to Barcelona, I had done a recap of the goals that were set out at the beginning of the El-Tanein Diet series. Now that I’ve returned, it’s time to take a look at that list and see where to go from here. No more walking my way through meals of cheese and sparkling wine, it’s back to the gym for me.

UPDATED GOALS FOR EL-TANEIN DIET

  • Do regular push-ups (I currently do modified bent-knee)
  • Plank for 2 minutes straight post-cardio
  • Lose 15kg by June 12, 2016
  • Work my way up to 6kg weights
  • Wear shorts to the gym without feeling the jiggles
  • 10K steps/day or at least 50K/week total
  • 5 classes/week minimum
  • Run my 5K in 35 min or less
  • Run one 5K run/week
  • NEW: Join Nike Running Club
  • NEW: Walking to and through Horsh Beirut   

The original cut-off date for ETD was January 12, 2016 to total out to a full six months of recording and progress. Can you believe it’s already been 20 weeks? Well, I can’t either which is why I’m extending it to June and bumping up the kilos to be lost. It’s also because BCN took out a chunk where I was doing more chewing than toning. I did not balloon up over there but, knowing the sedentary car-dependent lifestyle of Lebanon, I am going to have to work much harder to balance my food intake and get healthy exercise back into my weekly routine.

I was too optimistic thinking that week #20 would have me back at the gym like it ain’t no thang. Coming back, at the start of Thanksgiving week no less, has been harder than I expected. Besides too much mezza, it’s taking me longer than usual to be okay with how Beirut has changed – or hasn’t – in my eyes.

Week #21’s post will be a status report to see where I’m at physically post-Barcelona; I need to see if I’ve lost the stamina that I built up over the summer. My gym has changed up its class schedule (and jacked up its membership fee) so that may affect my workout tally too.

I have nothing to report this week but I’ll leave you with this track:

As for cheese of the week, I will admit to inhaling lots of Cheez-its with white wine. It may be Barcelona withdrawal, filling the void that only cava and slices of cheese can fill, but I think it may also be the Kellogg’s product.

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I once saw something about Doritos on Discovery Science. It said that along with the perfect crunch sound, the chip flavor was purposely created to be the perfect balance between salt and sweet so that your body could never reach satiety, leaving you always wanting more. Cheez-its have got to be part of that club because they are my cheddar cheese Achilles heel and the archenemy of El-Tanein Diet. They need to go.

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Bambi Recommends: Jardins de Laribal

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Forget Park Guell and Parc de la Cuitadella. And while you’re at it, forget Fundacio Joan Miro, which is located at the tip of this green haven in Montjuic. Jardins de Laribal was designed for the 1929 World Fair and was once a part of the private estate of lawyer Josep Laribal. Barcelona’s city council bought the lands upon his death and Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier & Nicolau M. Rubió Tudurí were assigned the task of transforming the gardens into a public domain.

While Park Guell is flooded with tourists, Parc de la Cuitadella full of loud kids and fiesty parrots, and Retiro a 3-hour train ride away, Jardins de Laribal was where I could picture myself wasting a Saturday afternoon reading Cathedral of the Sea with a jamon & brie sandwich packed in my bag. Worst case, you can grab some food from La Font del Gat, a cafe named after the famous cat fountain and located in a building designed by my man, Josep Puig i Cadafalch.

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The green space spans between the Miro museum and the Jardins del Teatre Grec. Forestier linked the gardens with the Greek Theater via staircases and waterfalls, two elements that run throughout the entire area. Small fountains, sculptures, and canopies are scattered along most of the stepped paths. I personally found this to be one of my favorite spots in Barcelona because of its tranquility: you could be alone with your book under the sun while still within walking distance of the central district.

It’s Like I Never Left

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When I had friends visiting from their stints abroad during the summer or Christmas season, I couldn’t help feeling like they were in a state of growth & discovery while Lebanon, and I along with it, was frozen in an endless loop. Now that I’m the one coming back, I see that it wasn’t just an illusion.

I’ve been back for less than a week and it feels like I never left. Granted I’ve only been gone for 3 months and that’s not even long enough to digest a Thanksgiving dinner but not much has shifted. My cats are fatter (and thus, cuter) yet still unfriendly. Even my car’s side mirror is still faulty because it sat in my parking space collecting dust for 87 days. The most that’s changed is that my parents have become Beliebers because my sisters subjected them to so much One Direction in my absence. However, I’m not talking about my personal circle. Lebanon hasn’t moved a millimeter.

Perhaps that’s why those abroad love to come home: there are no surprises. You can lose a job in the middle of a divorce, pay a mortgage, get a 4th degree in Switzerland. But with all of that, when you come back home, you’ll still have unreliable utilities, corrupt politicians, and the best manoushe hot off the forn around the corner. Lebanon, in all her stunted glory, is the constant in their life of uncertainties and responsibilities. It’s comfort in the form of a country.

And what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong is that I’m not visiting. The level of comfort wears off when you’re not just passing through. I would’ve loved to come back to a solved garbage crisis, a president in office, and maybe even a feline who wants to cuddle.

Lebanon is the perfect home base in that you can go live another life elsewhere, return, and still find everything as you left it. There is no FOMO because you can always be there for the next cycle. It’s bittersweet but, isn’t that the case for all things Lebanese?

El-Tanein Diet Week #19

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Ah, my last week in Barcelona. I did my best to fit in as many leftover discoveries before I boarded my crack-of-dawn flight back to Beirut. Let’s see week #20 be filled with more fitness than food, inshallah.

Workout Tally

Walking everywhere for 7 days.

Outdoor Activity

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The entire weekend would suffice as my outdoor activity because I spent most of it hiking around the outskirts of Barcelona. Between Montjuic Cemetery, the Parc del Laberint d’Horta, and the Carmel Bunkers, I tried to take advantage of the sunny outdoors as much as possible.

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Fitbit Flex

I didn’t even wear it this week although now that I’m back in Beirut, I will have to since my activity will not be one that is iPhone friendly. Back to the gym!

Best Meal of the Week

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Lascar 74 is a “cevicheria” in Poblesec. It was my farewell dinner with the office and my first time having ceviche. I’m now a fan of Peruvian cuisine thanks to this dining experience. I recommend the guacamole (uchucuta) and the cheesecake de Lima. Not together, of course.

Other Highlights

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Xurreria Trebol: I had seen this spot’s churros behind the glass and made a mental note to go back at some point. All other churros tried in Barcelona were of the “tourist” flavor – too oily and stale. Trebol knows what they’re doing though. A little digging revealed that it’s one of the oldest xurrerias in the city and the only one that opens for 24 hours over the weekend. If you’re not a sweet-toothed person, they also make their own potato crisps. Otherwise, if you want beautiful churros served by a beautiful man, go here. Their churros are stuffed with dulce de leche, chocolate, or vanilla cream.

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Treated myself to a solo dinner at El Nacional on my last night: The plan was to just take a walk through the venue to see the setup because I’d heard good things about its interior design. But when I remembered I had tuna and brie left at the apartment, I figured I’d go all out on my last evening with some steak, cava, and lemon pie.

Workout Track of the Week

He needs to stop doing this. And by “this” I mean making this catchy music that you can’t help but sing along to. It’s too late to say sorry though because I’m hooked.

Cheese of the Week

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Cava, olives, and patacones with my book at La Xalada. What are patacones you ask? Homemade plantain chips with avocado, manchego cheese, and olive cream. That sums up what I’ll miss most about BCN.

Doing the Spanish Limbo

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Courtesy of Gratisography

The worst thing about temporarily setting up your life in a new city is that it’s temporary. I feel as though I’ve been suspended a foot over the asphalt for 3 months. I couldn’t get too comfortable because my  expiration date would soon come to pop the balloons overhead.

During this suspension, I’ve been partially living in Barcelona. Working as an intern, staying in an Airbnb apartment, and partying with visiting Lebanese friends. I’ve been floating just a few inches above the complete submersion into Catalonia. Teetering between tourist and expat is such a beautiful way to learn about the world but the allure can only last so long – especially for someone who doesn’t know how to live without a plan, to live without roots or some kind of routine.

Truth is, I started packing 9 days ahead of my flight (also to see if a pair of classic black & white  Superstars could be shoved into my second suitcase) and I’m ready to hit the ground running. I want to go sit in Urbanista for 6 hours drinking cappuccinos and planning AIGA ME events. I want to see the Sursock Museum and spend a Saturday in Horsh Beirut. I want to make some money and build my empire. I want to go to AUB to hang out with some affectionate cats while eating Kababji tabbouli on the Green Oval. I don’t want to be surrounded by garbage, deal with a shitty internet connection, or count how many weeks we’ve gone without a president. But I do want to start making my next move. I want to get back to my life. Real life.

Beirut, even if Putin is hijacking our airspace, I’m coming for you.

El-Tanein Diet Week #18

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As promised, I’m posting about ONE week again. I’m a few days late but I’ll get back into the swing of things. It’s going to be so nice focusing on one week in detail again and by week #20, I should be back at the gym in Beirut! I’m a little scared my muscles have atrophied.

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Workout Tally

Walking everywhere for 7 days.

Outdoor Activity

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CaixaForum Madrid

Walking around Retiro Park in Madrid. I spent week #18’s weekend in Spain’s capital via high-speed train. Although I didn’t have enough time to hit the big museums, I passed through CaixaForum, downtown, and Retiro. What a fantastic place to see during a sunny autumn day.

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Fitbit Flex

No comment. I’ve about had it to HERE with this thing. Apple Health said I walked 19.6K steps on Sunday so I’m still hitting the highs on weekends.

Best Meal of the Week

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If I were to pick a restaurant’s meal for this week, it would go to Toyo because that was the only time I really ate out. They have all-you-can-eat sushi for 10 Euros (lunch) and 15 Euros (dinner). It’s good stuff and the manager is very attentive. Only complaint: too much rice and mayo. That’s where they get you full. If you’re going to go, you’ve got to get there early because the line starts before the doors even open (1pm for lunch and 8:30 for dinner).

With that said, although I don’t have a photo of it, having homemade Lebanese food while in Madrid wins over all 7 days. Ain’t nothing like tabbouli and kibbeh bil forn with laban w’khiyar.

Other Highlights

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Bombings in Beirut and Paris: Too many tragedies all over the world in November. I, along with many other bloggers and journalists, have said enough on this topic. I’m glad people listened. Here’s to hoping that refugees remain welcome in cities all over.

Flamenco in Madrid is better than Barcelona: That’s a big statement to make but, from what I saw, the Spaniards have more on-stage pizzazz than the Catalonians. Olé snap. Watch here.

Workout Track of the Week

It’s not perfect for working out but I was just told about this band and I saw it necessary to share. Listen to this too. McLovin!!

Cheese of the Week

More cheeseducation.

Beirut, the Paris of the Middle East

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Never has that statement been so morbidly disturbing.

What happened last night in France is a horrendous tragedy.

I know that Paris has been a stop for travelers from all ends of the earth. I know it’s been romanticized and dreamed about in media, film, and poetry. Writers and artists consider the city a muse, the one they connect with and pour their souls out to. I know that residents adore it and visitors are enamored with its elegance and effortless sophistication.

But that’s what my Beirut is too.

I won’t paint illusions. We’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch but Beirut has also been the breeding grounds for creative minds and has captured the hearts of globetrotters who want to return for a second round. Maybe even a third and fourth. We’re just as sexy as Paris.

This isn’t jealousy, it’s sadness as Joey says. This post is in no way said with anger or bitterness towards the suffering people in France or its sympathizers. I type this because I wonder why Beirut has been forgotten or put on the list of places where death is just a number and it’s normal for the city’s name to be on the ticker at the bottom of your TV screen. You know which cities I mean. They’re the ones that have casualties and increasing death tolls as you pour almond milk onto your Cinnamon Toast without flinching.

And yet, when Paris is attacked, the world is shaken. Towers are lit with red, white, and blue. Don’t we deserve the same prayers? Doesn’t every city on that list mentioned above deserve them? Last night, Paris was the Beirut of Europe. These comparisons are unfair. “Beirut” equals carnage and chaos while “Paris” equals savoir faire and luxury.

Beirut, you have always wanted to be like Paris, the mother that left you when you were young. But dear Beirut, Paris never wanted to be like you because being like you would mean she doesn’t matter to the rest of the world and we all know that’s not true.

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To all,
It’s an ugly world these days.
Stay strong and stay safe.