El-Tanein Diet Week #36 and #37

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Still not in the mood to write lately but I will say that my NRC peeps give me hope for humanity. It’s inspiring to see a group of strangers get together to stay fit and eventually become buddies over a shared hobby that doesn’t involve drinking or inhaling chicken wings. And it’s even more goosebump-inducing when you see that this group wants to give back. More on that below.

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Workout Tally

– 2 power walks (Beirut Waterfront + AUB campus)
– 3 NRC runs
– 1 Gym Session

Outdoor Activity

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My friends and I finally managed to get a little activity in together. We’re starting at a beginner’s pace with power walks since we’re all at different fitness levels. The Waterfront and AUB were suitable spots to appreciate some fresh air outside office walls.

Nike+ App


The last run included 2 sets of 7 drills so soreness accompanied me into Easter weekend. I love strutting like a grandma. I’ve still got to get workouts up to at least 5x a week after Amreeka. Yalla almost there.

Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)

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I would have to go with the truffle burger at Acoté. Mmmmtruffle.

Other Highlights

Charity Miles: I mentioned this app in the last ETD post. My Nike crew decided to start a team on the app and we’re going to dedicate our weekly runs to one randomly selected charity each month. The last week of March and the full month of April is going to go to ASPCA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This way, running and donating as a group will have more of an impact.

Donating our bottles & caps: Each run ends with us finishing off at least two dozen 0.5ml water bottles. We’ve decided to recycle the bottles and donate their caps to Arc en Ciel, an NGO that converts collected plastic caps into wheelchairs.

Workout Track of the Week(s)


Cheese of the Week(s)
Somebody make these and don’t invite me over.

El-Tanein Diet Week #33, #34, and #35

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This post comprises weeks where I was in Beirut & LA. It includes more burgers than runs and workouts but I promised to report. It’ll be short post, despite being a 3-week compilation, because I’m jet lagged.


Workout Tally

– (3) 5 km runs

Outdoor Activity

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2/3 of my runs these weeks were outdoor runs around Californian suburbia. The contrast between the greenery of the residential areas in California and the outdoor runs of Beirut’s concrete jungle. The dose of green makes the time outdoors so soothing even though you’re a sweaty mess. I should give Horsh Beirut a try on a sunny Saturday soon.

Nike+ App

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Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)

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I had some great meals in Las Vegas which I’ll be posting about separately in the next few days but In-n-Out wins for ETD across the board. I consider it an achievement that I only hit it twice in 19 days.

Other Highlights

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Charity Miles: This app allows you to run miles that correspond to donations for multiple charities. I haven’t tried using it in Lebanon yet but that’ll be a test for week #36.

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The Broad Museum: Pronounced like “brode,” the Broad is a new contemporary art museum in downtown LA located between the Disney Concert Hall and the MOCA. Its entrance is free but you can pre-book tickets to skip the line. It’s currently got Yayoi’s Infinity Room as a special exhibit which I skipped. I didn’t want to wait in line for another hour to get a selfie that everyone has. Yes, I regret it.

Good Impressions of Beirut: I was networking at some work events and was pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of Americans had been to Beirut (and other parts of Lebanon). I’d been so used to meeting people who didn’t know it was a capital in the Middle East so this was refreshing to see. Even with those who had had their hearts broken by Lebanese folk, there were good memories associated with our little country. The worst part was that a follow-up question to “do you like living there?” tended to be, “so how’s the garbage thing going?” Sigh.

Workout Track of the Week(s)

Tell JK that I’m still rooooollin. That beat tho.

Cheese of the Week(s)

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Brie & mushroom sourdough burger at Mimi’s Cafe was my last meal in ‘Murica. Worth it.

El-Tanein Diet Week #32

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Main in Laguna Beach, California (July 2014)

I’ll be heading to Los Angeles for a couple of weeks mid-week #33 so next week’s post will be all about In-n-Out and sunshine. And a weekend in Vegas. It’s so easy to give up your workouts when away from home but, as I learned in pedestrian-friendly Barcelona, you’ve got to think of exercise as part of your everyday routine. Wash face, brush teeth, move your butt. I’m going to be hiking and running around the neighborhood while there so that I can keep up with NRC while away. I don’t want all the progress I’ve made to dissipate because of some animal-style fries. If anything, I’ll run FOR them.

Workout Tally

– (1) 6.45 km run
– (2) 30 min treadmill

Outdoor Activity

I’ll admit that this was one of my poor weeks given the momentum I’ve had this last month. I’ll also admit that I hit a low point.

For the past few years, I’ve conditioned myself to equate my happiness with my professional productivity. The more I’m stimulating my brain, the happier I am. A self-aware workaholic, I have not only been trying to trim the fat at the gym but in all aspects of my life as well. Reassessing where my brain cells are being used is a tiring task in itself.

…and so I crashed this weekend. My mind and body gave up and I couldn’t work or work out. Instead of heading to a cardio class or running off the frustration, I curled up with a book and let myself decompress. Sometimes, you need to break away and hibernate. I’m going to accept this and push forward. This next week, I’ll be better for it.

Nike+ App

 

Best Meal of the Week


Once again, dinner at Studio Beirut.

Other Highlights

250km Green Level: I’ve reached green on the Nike+ Running app! Sure, it only took two years of intermittent running but, with NRC, I should reach the next level much quicker.

NTC every Wednesday: Nike recently launched Nike Training Club sessions at U Energy gym in Downtown Beirut. They’re every Wednesday evening at 7pm and they’re free. All you’ve gotta do is book a spot a day in advance via phone/whatsapp. I haven’t had a chance to go yet but I’ll be checking it out once I’m back in town.


Sursock Museum with Mom: I promised mom a lunch at the swanky museum after we perused the halls of the old Sursock residence. It’s beautifully renovated; the historical architecture mixes nicely with sleek, minimal accents. The cafe is a bit too posh (and overpriced) for my taste but they had burrata so I was happy.

Workout Track of the Week

The track but with Elmo’s moves. From now on, you will never be able to listen to this song and not see him shake his groove thang.

Cheese of the Week

I ran out of brie last night. What would Kanye do?

Nike+ Run Club: Byblos was our Valentine

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Taken by Ali Itani

As readers of El-Tanein Diet know, the Nike+ Run Club (NRC) runs twice a week from the Nike store in Beirut Souks every Tuesday and Thursday evening. However, what is not advertised on their flyers is the NRC-organized fun runs on weekends. I stress on the words “fun run” because the main point behind this group is to run for the sake of running, not for medals or podiums.

Leading the pack in this group of awesome folk is Mark Jibran, the NRC coach and all-around positive force of nature. Having a good coach should not be underestimated when it comes to sticking to a fitness regimen. If one’s trainer pushes too hard or doesn’t know how to motivate effectively, then they have failed as a trainer. What seems to fall through the cracks when finding a personal trainer or fitness advisor is not the reps or preferred activities used to get one in shape, but the personal approach they have while one is undergoing training.

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Mark Jibran, NRC Coach – Taken by Ali Itani

And that is where Nike hit the jackpot with Mark. He knows how to deal with people and he knows how to push without making you want to throw spiky pineapples at him so he’d back off.

For each coach, there is a pacer: Mohamad Marhamo. With M&M, the NRC is guided by two smiling and seasoned runners. We are pushed to keep running at our own best pace or, at the very least, to keep running. We are told how to stretch, how to stay hydrated, and how to exercise correctly. And if that wasn’t enough to convince you that they know what they’re doing, both are members of De-Feet Runners, a group of ultra-marathoners who run marathons back-to-back for 6 consecutive days to raise funds for charity.

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Mohamad Marhamo, NRC Pacer – Taken by Ali Itani

Running with these two on the Beirut corniche will show you that this group truly does run BEY. Be it at 6am or 6pm, fellow runners all over the path call out a happy hello to M&M because they are deep-rooted members of this athletic community that is alive in our city. While the rest of us sleep in, these guys are out there enjoying the sunrise and serene calm that you rarely associate with our chaotic capital. By being part of this group and going for runs at the crack of dawn, I got to witness this spirit and, dare I say, be part of it even if just for a few instances.

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For Valentine’s Day, we decided to take on the cultural port city of Byblos (Jbeil) for an early morning 10km run through the old souk and asphalt road to Amchit. On the bus there, while still trying to figure out how and why I was on my way to run on the morning of my 28th birthday, I was also debating how many kilometers I would actually do. The warm-up was set at 2km so that was the minimum but where would I stop? I’d done 10km in the Beirut Marathon but that question popped up, like it does before every NRC meetup, do I feel like it today?

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At every kilometer, my mind would ask, “are you ready to turn around?” But as I neared the halfway point where M&M were waiting with water, I had other NRC members making their way back and cheering me on. So I thought, “yalla, another kilometer and then you’ll stop.” And that’s how it went on until I did the entire 10. I did it thanks to their cheerleading combined with my mind not wanting my body to succumb to being closer to the age of 30. HA.

I was never a runner. Hell, I still don’t think I can call myself one. But maybe, in the future, with the help of NRC, I will be.

El-Tanein Diet Week #30 and #31

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tuna baked in bell peppers

Last two weeks have been more about adjusting my diet and cooking thanks to my #TakeOutTakeout challenge attempt. Grocery shopping and home-cooked meals has me experimenting with spices and sauces. Truffle oil tastes good on anything.

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white truffle oil spinach and ricotta tortellini

Besides that, getting to the gym has been a bit more challenging since work hours have been on the heavy side and I’ve been giving my feet some resting time between runs so my arches can heal – runner’s blisters are a real thing. Lots of Epsom salt baths and moisturizing to be done to keep the I-can’t-run excuses away.

I want to try a few classes at my new gym to mix things up a bit. Machines can be so dull sometimes.

Workout Tally

– (3) 6-7 km runs
– (2) 30 min elliptical
– (1) 10 km run

Outdoor Activity

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The NRC organized a 10km run at 7 am in Jbeil on Valentine’s Day. I’ll be writing more about that in detail in a separate post. Being that love day is my birthday, it was my personal battle to prove I was not going to sleep in and get old. Mission accomplished!

Nike+ App

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Best Meal of the Week(s)

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Birthday dinner at Meat the Fish with my people. Duck tacos, lobster mac & cheese, and pomegranate prosecco. And then a homemade cake from my second mommy and Magnolia cupcakes from my first. Happy 28th indeed!

Other Highlights

Improved Breathing: A few months of running combined with a ridiculous app called Plant Nanny has got me moving with steady breathing. The app reminds you to drink water by making you water a plant at the same time. No more gasping or pangs in my side which makes a huge difference when covering long distances. Last week was the first run I completed without stopping. Okay, I walked twice for 10 seconds each but still – it was 7km! Thanks to Arielle for sharing her story and the info about the app.

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Bananas are Your Friend: According to Shape Magazine, bananas are a great snack pre-workout. They’re packed with good sugars, potassium, vitamin C, and stimulate the production of dopamine. Read the article for more info.

Adidas Here to Create: The sportswear company has launched a new series that features athletes’ multifaceted life as creators. The spots feature athletes of all kinds from supermodel Karlie Kloss to DJ/model/entrepreneur Hannah Bronfman. It’s a smart way to show that fitness is a seamless part of your life rather than the reason for living. It also gives examples of how your fitness regime doesn’t have to be boring AF but it’s up to you to find what works for your lifestyle/personality.

Workout Track of the Week(s)

May not be a track for running sprints but Jagger works for a warm-up or getting mentally in the mood to tackle a workout. Or a Monday.

Cheese of the Week(s)

Because I don’t want to squeal over the baby brie packs I found and, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here’s a little figurative cheese:

 

El-Tanein Diet Week #29

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After spending days ordering tabbouli and sandwiches to the office, I’ve decided that I’m going to attempt something similar to the #TakeOutTakeout challenge. I’m limiting the number of times I order takeout for lunch in hopes that I’ll save money & calories. Plus, I miss cooking.

My revision to the framework of this challenge would be that ordering one coffee or a gin & tonic when out with company will not count as one takeout stub, and I’m allowed one dinner out/week. Groceries and condiments shouldn’t be an issue; my house may not be made for visitors but it is made for being a Wesley’s Testing Ground for new snacks and American goodies. This could be good or bad, depending on what I indulge in. Without further ado, let’s reflect!

Workout Tally

– (1) 5 km run
– (1) 6.4 km run
– 1 gym session (machines + cardio)
– (2) 30 min elliptical

Outdoor Activity
   

The NRC crew had a friendly competitive race this Sunday where we were split into mixed teams (fast and slow runners thrown together). Waking up at dawn to run on a cold Sunday only sucks for the first few minutes when you need to get out of bed. After the run though, you feel strong and awake…until you pass out at 6pm.

Here’s the Feb schedule for NRC – it’s got stairs and hills. As my elementary school gym teacher would say, “FEEEEEEEEL IT IN YOUR GLUTEUS MAXIMUS.” We were 9.

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Best Meal of the Week

Dinner at Studio Beirut. I haven’t been photographing my food but trust me when I say this place has great mezza even though they removed the mezza bar. Gasp.

Order hummus Beiruti and the meat with cherries.

Other Highlights

Best 5K: I’m down 3 minutes from my last best 5K so I’m getting closer to my 35-min goal. It’s satisfying to see that but I’d like to maintain my 5K time, not just hit the 35min mark once. Everyone can have one good day but if you can have a consistent drop in time, that’s progress.

Absorbent Socks: Running with the right gear is not restricted to shoes and pants that don’t slide. If you don’t wear absorbent socks, your feet are prone to painful blisters and discomfort on your arches and soles. Make sure to have a couple of absorbent pairs for training so your feet stay dry during your workouts.

Upping the H2O intake: I still suck at this and, during a run, it always shows when you haven’t hydrated enough. I feel like this when I haven’t downed a couple of liters.

Workout Track of the Week

I need to stop liking Chris Brown. After I listen to this one more time.

Cheese of the Week

Check this out. Aren’t they marvelous?

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.

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.

El-Tanein Diet Week #22 and #23

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I’ve bunched these two weeks together because they represent the slow but steady climb to a regular active schedule. I’ve had a gym trainer show me the ropes when it comes to the machines so I focus more on a combination of weight training and cardio. Classes are good but, according to Johnny, I’ve got to deplete my glycogen stores so I start burning fat and the best way to do that is to do weights first. From now on, I’m going to try to alternate between upper and lower body workouts with cardio plus runs twice a week with the NRC (Nike Run Club).

Workout Tally

– (2) 5.8 km runs
– (1) 4.3 km run
– (1) 8 km run
– (1) 7 km run
– 1 session with a personal trainer
– Upper Gym Day
– Fitness Age Test

Outdoor Activity

Spent last Sunday running 8km around Mar Mikhael at 7:30 in the morning. Till now, I have no idea what it motivating me to keep going to these runs but it’s been rewarding to see my stamina improving little by little. I am still the last of the group, the caboose of the troop, but I’m still completing the runs so that’s what counts.

Nike+ App

This section’s now for the Nike+ screenshots of my runs since I’ve broken up with my Fitbit.

Week 22:

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Week 23:

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Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)

No meals of major significance these last two weeks because I was prepping for the massacres that will take place during week #24. It’s Christmas/NYE season and you know what that means: brunches and cheeses and wine and dinners and coffees and cakes and chocolates and panettones…OH MY THIGHS.

Other Highlights

Fitness Age Test: This is included in the sign-up at the gym. Always nice to be slapped in the face with the numbers. My cardio and muscle are great but what I need to work on is shedding body fat.#thanksgenetics

This info wasn’t surprising but it helps to know where you have the most trouble so you can plan your activity accordingly. My visceral fat level, which is all the cushion around your vital organs in the abdomen, is too high which, when not rectified, can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. With my family history, this is a red flag I was expecting too and even more of a reason to get my arse on track. The hardest part will not be the gymming, it will be sticking to a healthy diet. 

Workout Track of the Week(s)

After being sucked into another series-binge (I’ve graduated to American Horror Story Hotel which is a combination of Sleep No More and Se7en), I’ve been stuck on this track while other shows are on their winter hiatus. The show’s latest season itself isn’t groundbreaking but Lady Gaga’s performance is excellent and I don’t understand the strange charisma that Evan Peters’ character has but it’s there. At least the pop music phase is ending. Maybe.

Cheese of the Week(s)

I’ve got nothing so I’m going to leave you with a cheesy track.

 

El-Tanein Diet Week #21

NRC poster

It’s been a slow return to the grind but I’m almost there. I’ve signed up at a new gym and I’ve joined Nike Run Club (NRC) so the workout tally should be more impressive as of week #23 once I find my regular rhythm.

Workout Tally

– 5.8 km run
– 5 km run

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Outdoor Activity

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My activity for this week was two runs with the NRC. The NRC is a group of peeps who meet every Tuesday and Thursday at the Nike store in Beirut Souks at 6:30 pm for a 5-6km run. It is open to everyone and it is free. As you run, there’s a coach who makes sure you’re running properly and keeps you motivated throughout so you don’t slack on the last kilometer.

I will admit that my first run was not pleasant but it was also my return to the fitness world after 3 months of fooding my way through Calatonia. That, and I had had soup for lunch that day. Not my smartest move, I know. It’s also because the runs are more about endurance than speed. For someone who does interval training, running at a constant pace for 45 minutes straight feels like a slow death. However, the second time around was better and the vibes in the group are welcoming. It’s not competitive or exclusive, it’s people getting together to move which was enough to get me to skip Bassem Youssef’s visit to AUB on Thursday.

Fitbit Flex

I forgot to charge it. I’m so bad at wearables.

Best Meal of the Week

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Souk El Akel in Mar Mikhael wins again. I brought dad this time around which was a mistake because he eats with his eyes rather than his stomach. In other words, he tries everything and passes the leftovers to me like I’m a compost bin. Meats & Bread’s WTF Burger was the star on the Christmas tree: black angus beef patty on lettuce and tarragon, melted cheddar, chips, and blueberry sauce.

Other Highlights

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AIGA ME Morning Toast: This Saturday was the 9th edition of our bimonthly breakfasts at Urbanista. Although it was a small group, the conversation was stimulating and was a good reminder that there are hungry minds in the region, minds that want to do more than what’s available to them at the moment. However, their frustration fuels their motivation to build something so maybe there’s hope.

Workout Track of the Week

I don’t know why I’ve become a 12 year old girl when picking workout tracks lately. I spend my days listening to rap and old school R&B then go workout listening to the Biebs and Jonas. Maybe it’s a new version of the Peter Pan Syndrome?

Cheese of the Week

It’s cold. Have some ohn-yan soup. I don’t know where Jamie Oliver is either.