One Year of El-Tanein Diet: 52 Weeks Later

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When El-Tanein Diet began, it was supposed to be a 6-month test to turn my life around and rectify the damage that my office job had done to my body. Once I had hit the 6-month mark, I wasn’t satisfied with where I’d reached and I extended it another 6 months. It was all in the hope that I would keep improving instead slacking off once the recording stopped.

If I were to assess my progress based on the original goals I had set for myself when I started ETD, I wouldn’t be able to strike through every single one of them. However, I will report what I did achieve because it’s even better than what I had in mind one year ago.

Below are the goals I hit + wins I didn’t see coming:

Went to a dietician and committed to a new diet: I wasn’t shedding pounds before I got my portion intake in line and started being conscious of what I was ingesting. Now, I’m slimming down, toning up, and my visceral fat percentage is in the safe zone. I didn’t want to admit that food was a big part of the process but it is. Only when I changed my diet did I really start seeing the results of my workouts.

Worked my way up to 7kg weights at my strength training classes: Up from 3kg, I don’t plan on going higher since I have a naturally muscular build so reps>weight for me.

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NRC’s Monday Beginner Session

Became a regular member of NRC: As Adriana Lima said, “For those who hate running, I’m sorry, but it really does the trick. I notice that my body really transforms from even just 30 minutes a day. If you don’t like doing it, find something to motivate you—cute new workout clothes, an amazing playlist, a great scenic path, or a [fitness] buddy.” The Brazilian hottie has a point. Running with this group has changed my opinion about it as a sport. Plus, I got my best 5K down from 39 to 35:13 and I regularly run at least 8K/week total. That wouldn’t have happened without NRC. I’ve even participated in races and I’ve graduated from shorts-for-men to the teeny tiny shorts for women. #ChubRub


Running 10Ks at the crack of dawn:
The road trip runs that were planned periodically with people who have contagious energy surprised me every time. Even now, when a run is proposed, I confirm before giving my brain time to punk out. The NRC group and the endorphins that accompany the runs give me the release and boost I need to push through the week. The workouts wear you out so sleeping is easier but they also make you feel better, faster, and stronger.

Gym/activity becoming a necessity: This may be because of my need to escape work and the daily drudgery that accompanies Beirut life but any form of exercise has become a much needed release. It’s my me-time where I can unplug and be one with the road. The pitch in Mel Gibson’s What Women Want pops in my mind whenever I’m running anything more than a 5K and all I can hear is my own breathing.

Running in foreign cities: I was once a person who would travel and chuck my gym routine out the window when abroad. Even if flying for work, I would enter vacation mode and eat my way through recommended restaurant lists. When in Barcelona, I depended on walking to stay fit. That doesn’t cut it anymore. Now, I’ve tried to be more selective about meals that are worthy AND I’ve taken the gym with me by using runs as a portable workout that also grants you free tickets to a resting city. Morning light has never been so flattering.

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Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy at 7AM (June 2016)

Registered for the Beirut Marathon 42K in November: I NEVER thought I would sign-up for such a thing voluntarily, much less commit to an intensive training program to prepare for it. But I have. I initially wanted to sign up for the half but Mark, NRC coach, convinced me that I might as well give the full thing a shot since I’ll be training for it anyway. If I feel like I can’t make it, I can always stop after 21K.

As a follow-up to this series, I will track the struggle, the pain, and the literal steps forward in a new biweekly series titled “BambiRunsBey42K” covering the marathon training that starts today. This series won’t be solely about my headway because it will be a NRC program: we operate as a team meaning their successes matter just as much as mine do.

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El-Tanein Diet Week #52

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This is the final ETD report. Happy to say that I’m down 2.5% body fat and, as promised, a new series is coming as a follow-up. I’ll divulge more on that in the ETD recap post that will be published later today.

Workout Tally

– 3 NRC runs
– 30min elliptical

Outdoor Activity

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The NRC team was turned away from doing drills parallel to the Zaitunay Bay boardwalk (shocking) so we headed over to the Beirut Waterfront. I prefer its fresh asphalt anyway even if it’s not ideal for planking. Scuffed up forearms are nothing a little coconut oil can’t cure though.

Nike+ App

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I had some makis from Sushi Circle – a mango crab salad and 5 pieces. Gone are the days where I’d order by the dozen. Is it the diet or could my tummy actually be shrinking?

Other Highlights

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Eid in the South: Besides waking up at the crack of dawn to head to the border, the Eid breakfast and BBQ lunch was a good mid-week pause away from the city. We forget how much beauty this little place has until you ignore the emails, drive away from the office, put your phone down for a second, and just see it.

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Iris Beach Club: After last year’s successful day in the pool with vodka watermelons, we decided to have a repeat visit in 2016. Iris is one of the private pricey beaches in Damour; however, I designate one or two expensive beach days a month when/if deemed worth it. In other words, when it’s with a big group of friends who aren’t usually here or for special occasions. Blame it on the expats.

Workout Track of the Week

 

Cheese of the Week

I had manchego cheese with truffle oil at Bar Jamon this week. I miss Spain.

El-Tanein Diet Week #51

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So we’re coming up on the concluding week of ETD. It’s time to go HAM at the gym & on the streets with NRC to go out with a bang. But fear not, the effect of ETD will live on with a new identity. After next week’s final post and recap of ETD, I will start a new series to track my marathon training journey. Half marathon, that is.

Workout Tally

– BodyPump, 30 min elliptical
– 5K NRC Run
– (2) 30min elliptical

Outdoor Activity

We had a 5K run in the midst of a sticky Tuesday. I made a bad judgment call and wore pants and sleeves. Let’s just say it’s time to invest in some new summer gear because our climate causes you to develop an aversion to any unnecessary additional cloth or insulation.

Nike+ App


Best Meal of the Week

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image from Cheesecake Factory website

It wasn’t a meal. It was a couple of bites from my mom’s birthday slice of red velvet cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory. I wanted to be guilty but it didn’t work. If you ever have this, avoid the white chocolate frosting edge. It’s better without it.

Other Highlights

Hishik Bishik Show at Metro el Madina: A tribute to 1920s Egyptian cabaret. It was good but I want to check out Bar Farouk, Metro’s Lebanese version, and make a comparison. Hishik Bishik is on until August and the team will be putting on a full show with a symphony orchestra for this summer’s Byblos Festival. As hipster as Metro may be, they’ve got lots of shows that’ll change up the usual evening plans of boozing in Mar Mikhael.

Workout Track of the Week

Cheese of the Week

Appetito Trattoria in Hamra just got a new shipment of burrata from Italy. WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING AT HOME? Go eat.

El-Tanein Diet Week #49 and #50

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It’s been a month since I flew to Rome. Where the heck are the weeks going? As of the beginning of July, El-Tanein Diet would’ve been running for exactly ONE YEAR. A recap is in order and, quite possibly, a conclusion. On to slimmer and brighter things?

Workout Tally

– 3 NRC runs (not all tracked because some were more training based than distance)
– 4 elliptical (varying between 30min-1hour) sessions

Outdoor Activity

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It has been disgusting out there. Humidity is making NRC runs really tough and I’m not fasting like some of my fellow NRCers. Not only do you sweat through everything but, even when standing still, you’re dripping from plain condensation. Sexy.

Gotta say that I miss gym classes but I haven’t been able to fit them in since I’m still catching up on work post-Rome and trying to rebuild my routine.

Nike+ App

Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)

A late night at Abu Hassan in Bourj Hammoud followed by too many Iftars these past two weeks including one with my NRC peeps at Beit Ward. I love a good gathering but my conscience keeps yelling at me for having an extra cheese roll with basterma. Mezzas, be it Lebanese or Armenian, are very hard to monitor. Batchig wins and I have no pictures because I was too busy inhaling mhammara.

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Did I mention Jammal?

Other Highlights

Beirut Marathon Training: Our runs and trainings have been shorter this month in order to make it back by Iftar but starting July 11th, the NRC crew will be kicking it into overdrive to start training for the Beirut Marathon in November with runs scheduled 5x/week.

Workout Track(s) of the Week(s)

Keke Palmer is the latest why-do-I-like-this-pop-nonsense track to hit my playlist. The video makes no sense and I can’t take her seriously after Scream Queens but at least it’s not a panda song by a dude called Desiigner. Just no. Track #2 is from the local boys of WKBL. Their latest album (Distant Rendezvous) has some good stuff, loving Mastercraft’s 80s vibes especially.

Cheese of the Week(s)

My new low-fat love is Candia light fromage blanc. It’s not brie or burrata but it’s still cheese. Hush, let me convince myself that it’s okay.

El-Tanein Diet Week #47 and #48

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View from the Borghese Gardens

I spent these two weeks in Rome and, upon return, learned that I dropped a kilo. Given all the gelato and cheese, I was not expecting that whatsoever. But I will say that I did not indulge to the max which changes travel as an overall experience. I tend to adore the foodtourism aspect of a new city but I want to stick to this new lifestyle choice of smaller portions.

Workout Tally

– 3 early morning runs around Rome

Outdoor Activity

I had no access to a gym but I made sure to get a couple of runs in before my workshop classes. I had been told that exploring a city while everyone’s still asleep as the sun rises is the best way to see it but I didn’t believe it until this trip. I felt like Rome was mine, even if just for 20 min before the eager tourists started to line up. How often do you get to see the Trevi or the Pantheon deserted in daylight?

Nike+ App

Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)

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A wooden slab of cold cuts and cheese with red wine.

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Cacio e pepe fresh pasta.

More on these two meals will be posted in my Rome Top 5 coming soon.

Other Highlights

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Meeting Arabs abroad and blending in with the Italians: We are everywhere. And we know how to spot each other. I’d feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I’d find a fellow Arab and trade stories as to why they’re in Rome. What was even better was being able to blend in like an Italian and be ignored by street vendors/avoid tourist treatment.

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Letterpress Workshop: Old school typesetting and layouts. The time and work that used to go into book production and print design makes you realize how easy we have it now with our Adobe, Kindles, and iPads.

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Two weeks with no 3G and I’m in love with Rome: Usually, getting a sim card is one of the first things I do upon landing in another country. This time, after spending my first day without it, I decided to forego constant connection and wing it. I would use Google maps to find a main destination and depend on my own sense of direction to find my way back after closing the app. Looking up instead of at texts or work emails allowed me to reconnect with my surroundings. Nasri’s latest captures what I felt in Rome. I should schedule when to be online anywhere, not just when away. If I was to cheat on Beirut, it would be with other Mediterranean cities. Barcelona. Rome. Akh. I love this sea’s people.

Workout Track(s) of the Week(s)

These tracks helped me stay up late working on a presentation for the workshop. I hadn’t done that since my uni days so that was a fun throwback. Not sure if my hotel neighbors thought so unless they had their own PJ parties to Chris Brown.

Cheese of the Week(s)

I made a trip out to Eataly Roma, the largest branch of the chain. This older man, after laughing at himself for speaking Italian to me while I remained clueless, was offering samples of cheese from his cow and ship (sheep). That ship makes great cheese and held me over on my late nights when I avoided searching for pizza.

El-Tanein Diet Week #45 and #46

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Taken by Random Dude by this “fountain”

I bunched these two weeks so I could report on some diet progress. First 10 days or so on my new diet and I’m down 3.2kgs but forget the scale – the bigger win is that my visceral fat area has dropped 23% so that’s great motivation to stick to this…which will be a challenge because I’m now in Rome, Italy.

I’m going to do my best to stay within the lines without sacrificing the chance to have authentic Italian gelato and pizza. I’m not kidding. I brought packs of light tuna and mustard with me. No joke. #wesleys4life

Mark Jibran, my NRC coach, has told me to run 3x/week while away to keep up the momentum. Let’s hope I don’t go into travel mode and get lazy. I’ve made progress with NRC BEY – can’t go back now!

Workout Tally

– 3 NRC runs
– 45 min elliptical
– SixPax, 30 min elliptical
– 1 Upper Body Gym, 30 min elliptical
– 1 Lower Body Gym, 45 min elliptical

Outdoor Activity

Last Thursday’s NRC run was such an ass-kicking workout. Over 9km of twelve sprints in increasing then decreasing increments. It was so painful emotionally that I would’ve preferred a waxing session but it made me feel less guilty about heading to Sour for the whole weekend. It was like I worked for the time off.

Nike+ App

Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)

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Le Phenicien in Sour. Octopus provençale, grilled calamari, that fruity crab salad. Oh yes, this place is good and, oh yes, we ate there twice.

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The best gelato of my life from Giolitti on my first night in Rome. Black raspberry and dark chocolate. Akh. This diet thing is going to suck.

Other Highlights

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Dar Alma & Weekending in Tyre (Sour): Cute boutique hotel with my gals. Lots of sunshine, sand, and vegetating. Feels like summer is here.

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Don Nino cappuccino and sfogliatella frolla, God help me

The start to my Summer Typography & Design Workshop in Rome: I’ll be in the Eternal City for the next 2 weeks with NYC’s School of Visual Arts. The workshop is lead by some kickass teachers from there and so far, my brain is quite happy.

Workout Track(s) of the Week(s)

Cheese of the Week(s)

I love double creme. My cheese section will be very G-rated now that I can’t go wild with the cheese platters & wine. Did I mention the burrata in Rome is INSANELY DELICIOUS?

 

El-Tanein Diet Week #43 and #44

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I combined these 2 weeks because I wanted my last post on Beirut Madinati to get as much screen time as possible. It’s had over a week so let’s get back to biz.

Gym momentum is still going strong but I gave up on policing myself with food. In other words, I went to a dietician. I’m not good at portion control and this was not easy to admit. However, after 6 months at this new gym without major results, I have to come to the conclusion that I’m probably eating all wrong. Blood tests are also being done as a precaution.

As of week #45, I will be on a diet so that my workouts aren’t done in vain and/or I don’t keel over from heart disease.

Workout Tally

– (3) NRC runs
– BodyPump, 20min elliptical
– BodyPump, 30min elliptical
– 60min elliptical
– 80min elliptical
– 45min elliptical
– Stairs drills at AUB

As you can see, the last two weeks was more elliptical than classes mainly due to convenience. The classes are more entertaining and effective as a workout though.

Outdoor Activity

 

I don’t know why I decided to jog the Chemistry stairs on the hottest day of the month so far. Those steps will always remind me of the days when I would use them to escape the misery of lower campus. I never thought I’d intentionally be going up (and down the tennis court stairs) them for no other reason than to do a loop and climb again. As the temperature rises, my fear of our moist summers increases.

Nike+ App

No records this time but maintaining my pace so far.

Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)


As my last meals before the real el-tanein diet moment that was yesterday, I did quite well: the buffet at Nicolas Audi at Ixsir Winery in Basbina, my favorite hummus beiruti and meat & cherries at Studio Beirut, and a quinoa salad at Casper & Gambini.

Other Highlights

Beginner Runs with NRC:
 Since the NRC group has been growing exponentially every Tues/Thurs, Nike has started a beginners group on Mondays. This group will be dedicated to new runners. Each run will be 3-4km and serve as an introduction to the NRC lifestyle. One caveat – these runs will not get you Nike loyalty points.

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Beirut Madinati & Election Day: Did I already mention this? Oops. #sorrynotsorry

Workout Track(s) of the Week(s)

One high tempo and one more chill for your cool down? What can I say, I’m too good to you.

Cheese of the Week(s)

I wish I was Bo. Not for the guy but for the fact that she can mange, mange, mange.