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.

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You Have Your Lebanon

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And I have mine.

Sietske, a Dutch blogger who’s been in Lebanon for ~20 years, recently posted about the tendency we have to sulk about our “situation.” It is a topic that I’ve discussed with my friends on multiple occasions: how there is an inclination for some nationals to diss Lebanon, be it from home or abroad.

Well, guess what? I can’t have that. You may have your Lebanon and I may have mine but, to the outside world, they are one and the same.

By being Lebanese, or a citizen of anywhere, you are effectively a representative of your nation. This does not mean that you gloss over its problems, pretend that it’s perfect, or downplay the serious obstacles that are incessantly popping up there. It does mean that you put these problems into their historical context, that you try to create understanding with an audience that may be misinformed or not know enough to pass judgment, and that you contribute to the inspiring image that your country can have if you let it.

Part of why Lebanon’s golden age is considered the 60’s is because that period’s been praised and talked about so much since then. How about instead of focusing on a time when Lebanon used to be glorious, we put the same amount of energy into portraying the greatness that Lebanon has today?

When someone asks you about Lebanon, if you answer with all the negatives and are quick to deem it a sinking ship, then you are choosing the easy route. This place can be difficult to defend and there is resentment. You feel that you should not be expected to be loyal to a place that never did anything for you but give you severe road rage, an overpriced lifestyle, and a useless passport.

I can sympathize with those who tease our system, our politics, our obsession with religion. I’m entertained by it just like anyone else who understands how aggravating these things can be. It’s comforting, in a way, to laugh it off when it feels like that’s all that can be done. On the other hand, when you nag just for the sake of it, you are filling a cesspool that does not need replenishing. If you are not satisfied with what is happening (or what isn’t happening) in the country, then there are three options: take action, stay silent, or leave. However, if you do leave, try not to trash the place that shaped you as an individual.

If you are abroad and you’re talking smack about your country, painting an ugly Monet of what we are, then you are being ineffective as citizens. You are lucky that you had the option to pursue other opportunities that may not have been available to you in Lebanon but you are not better than any other Lebanese person just because you left. Leaving does not mean that what you’re saying about the country has no relation to you. You are still Lebanese.

The more you insult your place of origin, the more you give others the right to do the same because it clearly doesn’t bother you since you agree with them. As a result, you’ve perpetuated the Let’s Take a Crap on Lebanon trend.

Let me put it like this: it’s like when you rant about how annoying your sibling is. Only you can complain about her annoying dietary preference for gluten-free no-wheat-flour falafel. As soon as your audience joins in on the bashing, it’s suddenly not okay anymore. It’s also similar to how some girls allow themselves to be called “bitches.” You using the term does not mean that you claimed ownership and made it empowering. It means you’re okay with its use, its derogatory connotation, and you’re indirectly saying “I’m fine with you using this term to describe me.” That’s exactly what you’re doing by allowing someone to call Lebanon a failure. You’re saying you’re okay with them calling you a failure. Should you be critical of its development, its government, its progress? Absolutely, but it should be constructive criticism and come from a place that hopes for more. Is it cosmopolitan, organized, and solid? No. But what you say about your own country, the place that is intertwined with your identity whether you like it or not, is a reflection of your character.

You are an ambassador of Lebanon to the world; after all, the best byproduct this country ever produced was the people that came from it. If the country has not made you proud, then prove that you are worthy of something better. Show others that this place that “still suffers from the echoes of civil war” is not a place that births damaged people. Change what it means to be Lebanese by being successful regardless of what your country couldn’t do for you. Prove that being from Lebanon is a strength, not a curse. Tell Lebanon’s story. Doing otherwise just makes me (and the rest of us) look bad and I won’t stand for someone falsely representing what I am. Stop associating my country, my heritage, and my identity with everything you (and I) don’t want it to be. Start embracing who you are or should be: a member of the community that is pushing back.

A Community without a President

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Today marks two anniversaries for Lebanon: 15 years since the liberation of the South and 1 year since the beginning of our presidential vacuum. Twelve months of a second round of headless chicken syndrome and yet, I find that there are signs that Lebanon’s community is still there. We are still pushing forward, trying to create a country out of what we have.

Instead of having Lebanon associated with suicide bombings, political ambivalence, or whether or not it can withstand the increasing number of refugees, there is evidence that this place is made of more than the troubles it carries.

It seems there is more to a country than the person who runs it – there is its people.

The community is those who are fighting against domestic violence. They are the youth who give the staircases in Mar Mikhael a fresh coat of paint. They are the organizers of street festivals that remind us of the beauty of our Mediterranean sunshine and attraction to life. The community is the designers and artists coming together for Beirut’s 3rd Design Week. They are the people coming up with a civil campaign against the privatization of Dalieh. They are the activists pushing for more public green space, equal rights of migrant workers, and ethical treatment of animals. They are the dignified Armenians who ask for recognition of a crime against humanity rather than an apology or vengeance. Sure, they’re the ones throwing and attending the parties and concerts too. The community is those who are not waiting for a president to create their Lebanon. The community is made up of people who are building it anyway.