NTC Beirut: Boys Are Welcome

In the Trump era, equality has taken on an urgency that goes beyond Girl Power laptop stickers and singing along to Beyonce lyrics. As is standard when it comes to gender perks, girls are left out except when it comes to Beirut’s NTC. In a twist of irony, NTC Bey sessions were only available to women; that is, until this month. As of March 1st, Nike Training Club’s classes at UEnergy gyms will now be co-ed as all beasts are considered equal head by ladybeast Diala, the official NTC Trainer.

NTC sessions are so quick and efficient lasting only 50 minutes tops; it’s no wonder the guys were getting jealous they didn’t have access to FREE circuits with a trainer and potential mates (as in “friends,” tihihi). If you ask me, this is great for both sexes. Not only does it allow for another biweekly gathering where you can meet new friends with a common interest in fitness and a healthier lifestyle, something that is lacking in Beirut, but you also get to be pushed by the competitive nature of training. Although biologically speaking, males and females differ in their capacities to lift and strength-train, having supportive bros pushing you to be a fierce ladybeast is always helpful. Did I mention skimping on monthly gym memberships now that you can run & train for free with Nike? For NTC, all you have to do is call the corresponding UEnergy branch on the same day to book a spot.
After 4 months of marathon training, my Nike peeps and I have reached a certain level of camaraderie I haven’t had since my university years. Much like the days when I’d come disheveled wrapped in a ginormous hoodie to Nicely Hall pre-exam having hardly slept, my Nike bros & I have seen each other at our most raw and gross. Suffering together with all masks dropped brings you closer; perhaps closer than those who have only seen the coiffed and carefully curated color-coded version of you. All activities that require bonding via social interaction while your body is undergoing stress lead to formations of tight friendships (basketball, hiking, chopping tabbouli ingredients), especially given that we commune to decompress after long workday nightmares, on and off the road. You’re already in this mindset of shedding bullshit and dropping facades. Ain’t nobody got time for drama. Within NRC or NTC, much like in classrooms, you’ll find people you can connect with without the need to be at the alcoholic watering hole complete with why the heck is this guy talking to me vibe. Don’t get me wrong though, we eat, drink, and be merry. There is one common ground that all my Nike gymrat athletes share: we do all this because we love food. Turns out, coming together to get healthy has helped me find my fellow foodies. Maybe at NTC, you can find your people too. Or you can just come run (and eat) with us regular runners at NRC. I guarantee you’ll be welcomed at both.
March
And NRC runs every M/T/Th 6:34pm at Nike Souks – Downtown Beirut
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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.

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 #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.

 

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?

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.

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?