El-Tanein Diet Week #27 and #28

Sandwiches are the gateway to cake. Word.

I skipped NRC during week #28 so I hopped on the elliptical to make up for those two runs. Week #28 was the week of the elliptical. I hadn’t been on the machine in a gazillion years but it’s a lot more entertaining than a treadmill facing a wall. I am attempting to hit the gym 3x/week plus 2 Nike runs in between leaving the weekend activity as optional but encouraged.

Workout Tally

– (1) 5 km run
– (1) 8 km run
– 5 gym sessions (machines + cardio)
– 30 min on the elliptical
– 40 min on the elliptical

Outdoor Activity

Besides running around Zaitunay with my Nike buddies, I did not have my Sunday fun with my friends after all. As expected, the pact we made has yet to materialize into actual activity. Looks like I’ll have to go solo on some Sunday expeditions.

Nike+ App


Best Meal of the Week(s)

Brunch at Happy Prince followed by coffee and banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery. Talk about debauchery. Besides that day, I’ve been policing my growing appetite (#thankscardio) and ignoring the little voice that tells me 2 or 12 teeny McDonald’s hamburgers won’t count.

Other Highlights

Getting your friends on board: When trying to eat healthy, getting your friends to help is key since you’ll have people cheering you on and making sure you stay in check. But my friends bring over bags of Doritos instead.

Nike launches a new miniseries with their online destination platform & The Fix newsletter: These serve as a go-to for advice and fitness resources along with the story of Margot vs Lily, which will be running until March 21. Sadly, the newsletter is only for US athletes. Read more about it all here.

Workout Track of the Week

Cheese of the Week

Boursin. Oh you beautiful cheese, you. I think we all know what’s the first item on my grocery list for the snack of choice. Okay fine, I’ll stick to light white cheeses. Gawd. But I’ll probably be doing a lot of these.


The Barcelona Blues


The burrata, the olives with cava, the walks after every cheese-loaded meal. When I look at photos of the time spent in Barcelona, it already feels like centuries ago. I don’t necessarily miss the city itself but I miss the wonder that came with being in an environment that was always feeding my curiosity, my drive, and my passion to learn. It feels like it was a memory of another lifetime because I feel the person I was there is not the person I am here in Beirut. But that’s the point of travel, no?

My motivation to keep pushing back at this “repatriation frustration”, to keep digging for the gold in a mine full of pyrite, to stick to the reason why I have this blog at all – that motivation is dissipating. They tell me this too shall pass. That’s what I am told by all those who’ve returned, but also by the ones that are still far, far away. They say that it’s temporary and you get over it once you find your rhythm again.

How depressing is that? That this fire will die down and you become complacent with the status quo, jaded with the gnawing annoyance in your gut, and eventually go back to going with the excuse of “This is Lebanon” while you kick back another G&T. Instead, the thought pisses me off more. I try to push through. I am trying to push through.

The main lesson I learned there (outside of my internship) was to channel my energy. Removing myself from Beirut showed me how much of my own fuel was being depleted because I was being too ambitious, driving myself into the ground because it was easier to do it all than to deal with figuring out one path to stick to. My generation has a hard time turning down opportunities. We don’t know how to say no because we feel like we have to be able to do everything at all times and our smartphone addiction makes the illusion that we can all the more convincing.

But it’s no fun being a scatterbrained basket-case who’s incessantly spread way too thin on a low fat quinoa cracker. Can I sit here and have a slice of cake for 5 minutes without thinking about how I’m going to buy a house before I’m 40/how much time will this need on the treadmill/did I confirm that Amazon order/did I get that quotation approved/what ever happened to Billy Idol/I should tweet that/how many days left before I have to submit that presentation?

So. Much. Wasted. Energy.

It’s time to let 2016 be the year of realizing stuff* and realize that I need to focus on investing my time only in what matters and makes me happy.

What’s taking up most of my sanity now: trying to fall in love with Beirut all over again.

*Just in case it wasn’t obvious, I am sarcastically using Kylie as an inspiration for this. I’m 89% sure she will be naming her first child Kale.

El-Tanein Diet Week #24, #25, and #26

And so the last two weeks of 2015 and the first of 2016 brought about a failed routine and an attempt to return to one. Signing up with a new gym during the month of Christmas dinners and expat gatherings may have been a mistake but it does spare me from being the among the January New Year’s Resolution members. At least I feel like my fitness goal was not brought on by 12 months of guilt and too much turkey.

Another lesson learned during this return to normalcy was that running with NRC has been positively affecting my stamina without me realizing it. Of course, I only realized this after missing two runs (thanks to the holidays) which resulted in tense muscles and needing to restart my slow but steady progress. I also learned that running with a group is more motivating than when using a treadmill. The comparison between my cardio runs at the gym and the ones done down the Beirut Corniche shows me that I can move faster for longer periods of time when I’m with people. And I do it without the help of music.

Workout Tally

– (2) 5 km runs
– (1) 3 km run
– (1) 7 km run
– 2 gym sessions

Outdoor Activity
NRC runs have been the outdoor activity every week. The weather isn’t in my favor when I want to voluntarily decide to be sweaty outdoors but it’s been okay as long as it’s dry. I’ve made a pact with my posse to jog together every Sunday in hopes that we will motivate each other to make healthier lifestyle choices. Here’s to hoping we stick to this agreement.

Nike+ App


 Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)

Taken by Christie Haddad

Christmas week’s meal would have to be my friend’s mommy’s paella. While in Barcelona, I only had paella once because I felt like I’d be betraying my auntie. Her paella is the bees’ knees.

Other great meals consist of chicken strips and salads at Roadster. I have missed our little Beirut-bred diner.

Other Highlights

Getting the right gear: My shoes, which I used for classes and training, were causing blisters and giving poor support when used for outdoor runs of +5Km. I have since upgraded to Nike Vomero10s and feeling has returned to my shins. This post isn’t sponsored by Nike – after all, I don’t ONLY buy Nikes. My love of sneakers doesn’t discriminate. My old shoes were a pair of Nikes but they weren’t the right ones for me or my activity. I was advised by my running buddies that the Vomeros give the best support for what we do so I invested in a pair to avoid further injury. Never underestimate your comfort during a workout. This extends to your clothing as well because you have to feel good about yourself when working out so you keep doing it.

 Love/Hate Relationship with Expat Season: It’s so invigorating to see the city filled with people your own age again. It gives you an idea of what it would be like if our youth felt like their own country could give them the opportunities and salaries they deserve. It also shows you the kind of traffic and hectic schedule you would have to maintain if everyone you loved were suddenly in the same area code.

Workout Track of the Week(s)

Do I really need to justify this? This is the song I wait for at Grand Factory. It or anything Kanye. Clearly if this jam can get me grooving on the dance floor, it will get me moving at the gym.

Cheese of the Week(s)

Between having a cheese & wine night for NYE and trying Beirut’s Cheesecake Factory, 2016 has already seen its fair share of cheese so let’s get really uncomfortable.

Bambi’s Soapbox: Top 5 of 2015

For 2015, Bambi’s Soapbox had 27K views and 72 posts for the year, both stats doubling in comparison to 2014. The top 5 posts based on views and Facebook shares are as follows:

5) Old Beirut’s New Walking Tour (496 views, 15 shares)

4) Barcelona, You’re Not My Beirut (466 views, 100 shares)

3) Afternoons with the Sursocks: Sawfar & Beirut (679 views, 126 shares)

2) 10 Signs You’re a Lebanese Designer (1,005 views, 181 shares)


1) Beirut, the Paris of the Middle East (3,006 views, 2K+ shares)

A few posts were also reposted on various sites like my visit to Tripoli and my tribute to the South on YourMiddleEast, along with the Sawfar post making the rounds on other channels. Another highlight was being featured as a blogger in ArabAd.

This blog has always been my baby and views were never a major concern but it’s always gratifying to see that others are appreciating it. I’m hoping I keep pushing the bar higher this year when it comes to discovering new sides of my country, and myself, along the way.

Happy New Year!