El-Tanein Diet Week #4

Courtesy of Gratisography

Courtesy of Gratisography

Week #4 disclaimer: I got sick toward the second half and was incapacitated for 2 days followed by a Sunday with the fam. That left me with 4 days to be active so there’s my excuse for my mediocre performance.

Bi-weekly weigh-in: -1 kg. I’m not sure if that’s because of the workouts or the fever-induced dead appetite but there you have it!

Workout Tally

1 Boot Camp
1 Body Attack
1 20min Run
1 Taebo

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Not as impressive as last week‘s tally but still better than week #2. Despite the gross heatwave, I did shift up to 4kg weights. I was optimistic that I would be hitting the mark this week as well but viruses don’t care what you want to do with your life.

Outdoor Activity

Although it wasn’t major movement, exploring Sawfar in the early afternoon sun during this week’s heatwave worked up a bit of a sweat. Read more about the two afternoons spent with the Sursock family here.

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Fitbit Flex

3 days out of 7 were almost flatlined thanks to viral fun but at least the Fitbit is back to recording all my lack of movement. Check out the numbers next to my strongest week yet: one spent walking all over NYC. Even on my most active days with all the gym classes, I haven’t hit those kind of numbers since. This was not the best week to compare to but you get the point.

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Cheat Meal

A friend’s dinner in Broumanna would qualify as the cheat meal since it was a home-cooked buffet pre-fever when I still had a decent appetite. Check out that spread:

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I’d like to mention here that having a cheat meal once doesn’t mean I’m not eating carbs or having something sweet the rest of the week. I do have a little to curb the cravings and avoid bingeing/inhaling a whole bowl of cake batter. It’s all about portion sizes and choosing the right foods. My vegan sister, who has done in-depth research in nutrition, recommended that I “follow my hunger signals” in order to control my growing appetite. She didn’t mean eat whenever you get the urge; she meant avoid too many restrictions and skipped meals because you’ll end up overdoing it when you DO eat.

Other Highlights

Watched Paper Towns: I may have said that this movie is “the Breakfast Club of our generation” to a friend. That may have been an exaggeration but I did like it as a high school story in comparison to the crap that came out when I was pseudo-studying for SATs. It’s got the right dose of corny and its soundtrack introduced me to this track:

Ordering Salmon at Couqley: Feels like a crime to do so but I did not have steak frites and opted for the no-sauce-smothered no-fries-included salmon plate. It was great and light but I don’t feel like I went to Couqley because of it. That, and they were out of creme brulée. Bittersweet blessing?

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Another Anti-Corruption Protest: The crowd has grown since the first protest that is focused on the garbage crisis here in Lebanon. There’s room for more people so I hope that more will be inspired to join in each session. The more people who show up, the more we may be able to prove that we want change and the active citizens outnumber the passive followers.

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Discovering the Diaspora Museum: At the Lebanese Diaspora Energy conference this May, it was announced that 7 houses bought by the government would be converted into a Lebanese Diaspora Museum in Batroun. Yeah, I didn’t know about it either; I stumbled across the site while exploring the inner streets of the seaside city. It’s got something to do with Gebran Bassil so maybe I’ll shoot him an email.

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Went looking for El Cartel: No amigos found. Last month, I read about two guys from Reno who set up a taco hut by LAU Byblos. Dad and I made it our summer mission to find them and test their skills. However, when we found their “Tacolicious” place, it was closed and up for rent. Does anyone know where these guys went?

We went to El Molino instead and split a plate of subpar enchiladas. Looks like nothing beats homemade tacos for now. When is Loca coming to Beirut? Please?

Workout Track of the Week

This track isn’t for intense workouts but it’ll do the job if you just need a tune to keep you company on a power walk or warm-up. The video is also a super violent spoof on the advertising world which I can totally appreciate. Headbutt your way through life, people.

Cheese of the Week

This week’s cheese comes from Junot Diaz’s book, This is How You Lose Her. In the last few pages, he writes a very simple line: “the half-life of love is forever.”

A “half-life” is a nuclear physics term that is used to describe the life span of unstable atoms. It describes radioactive decay. So the half-life is how long it takes for something to decay to half its original amount. My nerdy self feels all warm and fuzzy.

I’ll leave you with the best of my new idol, lumpy space princess. Never underestimate Cartoon Network’s ability to make disturbingly entertaining cartoons.

El-Tanein Diet Week #3

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Week #3 has me feeling like less of a fitness fraud after last week’s debauchery. It’s gotten to the point where having a weekend without gym-time or activity just feels wrong. I can’t go two days without getting workout drenched, it’s an endorphin addiction.

Workout Tally

2 Boot Camp
2 Body Attack
1 5K Run
1 Taebo

5 classes and a run! Nothing like a bumpy week to make you move your bum during the one that follows. The trick is keeping the momentum going and not eating the entire ocean like week #2. The hardest side-effect that accompanies this endorphin addiction is constant hunger mode. This week, I’ve learned that with a lot of activity comes a lot of appetite so self-control becomes more important than ever and that’s something I’ve got to work on.

Outdoor Activity

I decided to go for a 5K interval run on the AUB track which would’ve been a fine idea on a regular day…in February. Of course, I went at 3:30pm when it 36ºC in July. In all fairness, it is not the 40s and 50s of the GCC but it can feel quite damp when you have to do 15 laps by the sea. Running around sunset would be a better idea but I doubt it’ll get that much cooler before November.

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• New goal to add to the original list: 5K run in 35 min or less

Fitbit Flex

The Fitbit has returned! Well, almost. It recorded the entire week except for Monday. My highest count this week was on Friday thanks to 2 classes followed by Decks on the Beach. Since the parties run late and we were dancing past midnight, the dance-steps counted all the way into Saturday giving me 8K total for that day even though I spent most of it leading a sedentary life behind my computer screen. Looks like Decks is another cardio class. Win!

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I hope the Fitbit will be back to 100% next week.

Cheat Meal

Thursday dinner at Acoté, Mar Mikhael
Bab el Wad Merguez Sandwich with Fries

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I waited for this sandwich all week and, it seems, my expectations were set too high. It wasn’t as good as I remembered and I felt like I had been cheated out of my cheat meal. The whole point of having a cheat meal is anticipation and reward so when you miss the mark, your brain is shrieking, “WASTED CALORIES!” The aches and sore muscles of my 5K run were mad at me for ingesting calories that didn’t make me happy, just guilty. I started calculating how many classes I sacrificed for that sandwich. The fear of disappointment from a meal is actually causing anxiety – WHO AM I?

I should’ve gone with my gut and had a slice of cake instead. Week #4 will be dessert-oriented.

Other Highlights

Arrival of the First Maktoub 3 Loubnan Postcards: I returned from a few hours at the beach in Batroun to find two postcards in my mailbox. Now that’s a good Monday. Check them out up close here. If you’re Lebanese abroad and haven’t sent a postcard already, get to it!

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Workout Track of the Week


I didn’t have my iPhone playlist updated for the 5K run so I used Soundcloud, where I also had not created a workout playlist. Thus, I just let it play remix upon remix of this track. It did the trick but my earphones didn’t do the bass justice. The track seemed appropriate given that he was in Beirut this week. My conscience wouldn’t let me go to his concert though.

Cheese of the Week

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Literal cheese: rkakat mi’leh ma’a basterma, or fried cheese rolls with Anatolian pastrami. Delicious. Just two of these suddenly made me feel better about having a dud of a cheat meal. Considering it was the only fatty item on the table, I’m reminded that our Lebanese mezza is a colorful variety of dishes that are healthy choices full of greens, legumes, and olive oil. It’s not hard to OD on mezza though; a dozen meat pies and a full plate of spicy potatoes with cilantro will still go straight to your thighs so it’s best to stay leafy. Our cuisine is a blessing, when you eat in moderation.

Time for week #4!
Warning: video below has profanity. OH SNAP.

El-Tanein Diet Week #2

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Week #2 of El-Tanein Diet was a disaster. Fitness level was pathetic, my Fitbit was dead, and the coastal feasting was at an all-time high. For being a fitness series, this post is loaded with food. That means that Week #3 is going to have to make up for it. BRING IT.

Bi-weekly weigh-in: 0. No change. Better than gaining, I guess.
Next weigh-in will be at the end of Week #4.

Workout Tally

1 Hike
1 Taebo

That’s ONE class along with the outdoor activity. Very, very poor performance this week due to various events and commitments (wedding season, after all). However, it has shown me that I can’t rely on late afternoon classes anymore. I’m going to have to start waking up early for morning classes, doing some random 5K runs, and hoping that the electricity at home will support my treadmill days for when I don’t make it to the gym or the track.

Outdoor Activity

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Unlike last week, this category is this week’s peak when it comes to getting the blood pumping. Some friends and I decided to go hiking by Nahr Ibrahim (Abraham River). We managed to GPS through a mountain and ask our way to the top until we ended up at a small church. There, you can leave the cars parked and take the “Lake Trail” of Jabal Moussa which leads to the Chouwen lake of the Yahchouch Valley.


Turns out the road up there is a lot easier than what Google Maps advised. If you’re coming from Beirut, continue on after Tabarja and take the right exit (the same one that leads to Okaibeh) under the bridge after Beit el Kataeb. Stay on the main road inward and there will be a left turn across from a gas station. It’s straight up after that till you get to the church. Worst case, stop and ask how to get to Chouwen. More info on hiking in Lebanon can be found here.

Fitbit Flex

This wearable went from being great to being an inconvenience very quickly. No further comment.

Cheat Meal

Thursday lunch at Classic Burger Joint in Hamra
A Classic Cheese with fries & coleslaw.

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A Nutella chocolate chip cookie cupcake from Gustav I got as a thank-you for being an expat tour guide. What a tough job.

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Other Highlights

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Having Grouper Fish (Likos) 3x this Week: Along with sushi as well, I feel I’ve become a human aquarium at this point. I’ve come a long way for someone who never liked seafood. I recommend O&C Fish Market for an affordable and fresh fish lunch. If you want some amazing octopus, make the drive out to Jammal in Batroun for a scrumptious lunch IN the water.

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Finally going to a beach in Tyre: The water was the perfect temperature for a hot day and, luckily, there were no jellyfish, just some weird seaweed-like slug bugs. I still prefer Batroun’s beaches but it was a nice change from the rocky shores. There are still parts of Anfeh and Chekka that I’ve got to see before September!

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Cards Against Humanity Nights: I’ve come to realize that if I keep attending this weekly gathering at my friend’s place, I will either have to count it as my cheat meal or duct tape my mouth shut. It’s quite the challenge to resist homemade rosé sangria and nachos.

Workout Track of the Week

I cannot understand why a megamix of Michael Jackson hits was the soundtrack for taebo this week but it was, at various tempos. Not that MJ isn’t perfect for basically anything, but I had to focus on the taebo moves instead of breaking out into dance. You can’t play this and expect me not to want to boogie instead of punch. Too many repressed shimmies and pelvic thrusts.

Cheese of the Week

While the country spent the last 6 days rolling in its own woebegone waste, it was a good week of seeing the beauty of our country’s beaches and natural greenery. You rarely get the chance to appreciate the outdoors and it made the environmental issue even more pressing after seeing what was at stake. 

All I know is, after this marathon of seafood and celebrations, this last week of July is going to be a killer. Take it away, work it kitty.