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:

 

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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.

Nike+ App

  

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.

 

10 Favorite Eats in Barcelona

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Most of these places have been mentioned in the El-Tanein Diet series posts (or posts of their own) but here’s a round up of my 10 favorite places of Barcelona. Every time I would dine somewhere, I would find 12 others I’d add to my google list on the way. My google list would be cafes, restaurants, and museums that I would investigate online later to see if they were worthy of a visit. After all, I had 86 days to take in as much of Barcelona as possible so I needed to be wise and selective. Yes, I take this shit seriously.

These are places I went to more than once, even if just for coffee, and could imagine them becoming my go-to locations if I were a permanent resident of Spain’s Catalonian city by the sea.

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For coffee, cava, and cheese:
El Jardi

Within the courtyard of the old Santa Creu Hospital is this cafe, a quiet spot to enjoy late lunch or a post-meal coffee. It’s behind the famous Boqueria market but still removed enough to be away from the crowded Las Ramblas. It’s an outdoor venue with string lights and simple tables; you’re basically hanging out in a garden with goodies. The hospital, eventually unable to keep up with the growth of the city and medical advances, was converted to libraries including Biblioteca de Catalunya.

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For a salad bar with a side of pie: Faborit

This cafe is located within Casa Amatller, the Cadafalch house attached to Gaudi’s Casa Batllo. With a panini or salad menu, you can get a filling, fresh meal for under 10 Euros and spend your lunch hour sitting in their outdoor terrace. They also sell beautifully packaged chocolate sets if you need some Art Nouveau souvenirs.

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For when you want a quiet dinner with your BFF: Casa Lolea

This is the 3rd time I mention Lolea on the blog because I really loved the restaurant. It’s just warm – that may be the best word for it. Staff is kind, food is good, and you feel at home. Did I mention the sangria bottles? It’s a sangria factory that has 4 special kinds produced and packaged in polka-dotted bottles. Great affordable gifts and/or accents for the home/office.

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For when you need a lunch break near Passeig de Gracia: Toto

Italian brasserie on Valencia. The service isn’t their strongpoint but the food is. Go for lunch to benefit from the menu del dia so you can have a 3-course meal for 16 Euros. The regular menu is pricier (also worth it) but you might as well save some cash so you can enjoy even more culinary experiences. Barcelona is not short on options, you’re just short on time.

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For when you need a break from jamon: Flax & Kale

Flax & Kale, flexitarian resto from Teresa Carles, is a vegetarian/vegan friendly spot 5 minutes away from Plaça Catalunya. The dishes are rich in veggies, grains, and oily fish. It has a juicery and an outdoor terrace on the second floor that opens in the afternoons. Barcelona is rich in cured meats and ham so when you’re looking for more fruit and greens, grab an acai berry bowl.

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For when you can’t get a table at Tickets: Lolita Taperia

I say this because the chef left Lolita (then Inopia) to open Tickets and you can tell when you eat here because the food is almost as good. I’ve been to both and Lolita is to Tickets what Toyota is to Lexus. It’s a casual everyday version of the more expensive sister. It’s not as meticulously prepared and it’s void of the “molecular cuisine” style which is fine because it’s all about taste anyway. And the waitress at the bar looks like Julia Styles and is super helpful.

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For when you need fried goodness: Xurreria Trebol

They’ve got homemade chips and giant churros loaded with flavored cream for 2 Euros each. Need I say more? Avoid the churro stands in the tourist-populated areas and head to this place instead. It’s open 24 hours during the weekend too so you can head there after you’re done partying till dawn and in need of a carbo-load.

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For when you’re not ready for Monday morning just yet:
Café di Marco

This is a small coffee shop on the corner of Arago and d’Enric Granados. There is nothing special about it but I used to stop here for a cappuccino and muffin on my morning walks to the office. The staff is kind and the cafe is filled with people starting their day or reading newspapers. It’s a cozy quaint place you can hide in until you’re ready to face the world.

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For when you want a fun night out with friends: Numeronueve

I think I took every visitor I had to this bar. Off one of the alleys of Passeig de Born, No.9 is a stone-throw away from Santa Maria del Mar. Tapas are great, sangria is even greater, and the staff are friendly. Music is a bonus. It’s not authentically Spanish if you’re looking for that sort of thing. But if you’re looking for good drinks and nibbles in a fun atmosphere, it never let me down.

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For when you want flavor for dinner:
Lascar 74

A “cevicheria” in Poblesec, Lascar 74 is where I had my first encounter with ceviche, a Peruvian seafood dish. Everything we ate was delicious, right down to the cheesecake that I didn’t order but kept eating off of my friend’s plate after I tasted a small bite. Interior is nothing fancy; simple decor for a satisfying dinner with friends. There’s no English menu but the waiters can explain everything for you so no sweat.

Honorable Mentions

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Can Ramonet in Barceloneta for paella

Hotel Barcelo in Raval for Sunday brunch. Open buffet plus a cocktail on the 360 degree view roof for 25 Euros

Mont Bar on Aribau for date night

Chök on Carme for cookies, cake, and cronuts

Brunch & Cake for brunch and cake

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.