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 #51

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So we’re coming up on the concluding week of ETD. It’s time to go HAM at the gym & on the streets with NRC to go out with a bang. But fear not, the effect of ETD will live on with a new identity. After next week’s final post and recap of ETD, I will start a new series to track my marathon training journey. Half marathon, that is.

Workout Tally

– BodyPump, 30 min elliptical
– 5K NRC Run
– (2) 30min elliptical

Outdoor Activity

We had a 5K run in the midst of a sticky Tuesday. I made a bad judgment call and wore pants and sleeves. Let’s just say it’s time to invest in some new summer gear because our climate causes you to develop an aversion to any unnecessary additional cloth or insulation.

Nike+ App


Best Meal of the Week

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image from Cheesecake Factory website

It wasn’t a meal. It was a couple of bites from my mom’s birthday slice of red velvet cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory. I wanted to be guilty but it didn’t work. If you ever have this, avoid the white chocolate frosting edge. It’s better without it.

Other Highlights

Hishik Bishik Show at Metro el Madina: A tribute to 1920s Egyptian cabaret. It was good but I want to check out Bar Farouk, Metro’s Lebanese version, and make a comparison. Hishik Bishik is on until August and the team will be putting on a full show with a symphony orchestra for this summer’s Byblos Festival. As hipster as Metro may be, they’ve got lots of shows that’ll change up the usual evening plans of boozing in Mar Mikhael.

Workout Track of the Week

Cheese of the Week

Appetito Trattoria in Hamra just got a new shipment of burrata from Italy. WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING AT HOME? Go eat.

El-Tanein Diet Week #49 and #50

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It’s been a month since I flew to Rome. Where the heck are the weeks going? As of the beginning of July, El-Tanein Diet would’ve been running for exactly ONE YEAR. A recap is in order and, quite possibly, a conclusion. On to slimmer and brighter things?

Workout Tally

– 3 NRC runs (not all tracked because some were more training based than distance)
– 4 elliptical (varying between 30min-1hour) sessions

Outdoor Activity

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It has been disgusting out there. Humidity is making NRC runs really tough and I’m not fasting like some of my fellow NRCers. Not only do you sweat through everything but, even when standing still, you’re dripping from plain condensation. Sexy.

Gotta say that I miss gym classes but I haven’t been able to fit them in since I’m still catching up on work post-Rome and trying to rebuild my routine.

Nike+ App

Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)

A late night at Abu Hassan in Bourj Hammoud followed by too many Iftars these past two weeks including one with my NRC peeps at Beit Ward. I love a good gathering but my conscience keeps yelling at me for having an extra cheese roll with basterma. Mezzas, be it Lebanese or Armenian, are very hard to monitor. Batchig wins and I have no pictures because I was too busy inhaling mhammara.

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Did I mention Jammal?

Other Highlights

Beirut Marathon Training: Our runs and trainings have been shorter this month in order to make it back by Iftar but starting July 11th, the NRC crew will be kicking it into overdrive to start training for the Beirut Marathon in November with runs scheduled 5x/week.

Workout Track(s) of the Week(s)

Keke Palmer is the latest why-do-I-like-this-pop-nonsense track to hit my playlist. The video makes no sense and I can’t take her seriously after Scream Queens but at least it’s not a panda song by a dude called Desiigner. Just no. Track #2 is from the local boys of WKBL. Their latest album (Distant Rendezvous) has some good stuff, loving Mastercraft’s 80s vibes especially.

Cheese of the Week(s)

My new low-fat love is Candia light fromage blanc. It’s not brie or burrata but it’s still cheese. Hush, let me convince myself that it’s okay.

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 #39, #40, and #41

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Week #39 was spent at Biel because I was on trade show duty for Wesley’s, the family biz. Although it was a successful business experience, it was horrible for ETD. Being in a hospitality industry atmosphere surrounded by food for 4 days straight does not a fit person make. Let’s skip that week and FFWD to weeks 40 & 41 where I got back on track…in terms of exercise.

Workout Tally

– (4) NRC runs
– Iron Core, 45min elliptical, 20min bike
– BodyPump, 30min elliptical
– BodyAttack, 30min elliptical
– Iron Core, 30min elliptical
– BodyPump, 30min elliptical

Totals out at 4 runs and 5 classes for 2 weeks. I’m working on an alternating schedule of classes and NRC runs with a weekend activity in between. The only downside so far is getting my food intake down now that I’m attempting to morph into a gymrat.

Outdoor Activity

Spending Nike runs all over Downtown Beirut and Mar Mikhael hasn’t been enough on the weeks when we don’t have out-of-city excursions. Sure, they count but I need more nature every week. MUST GET TO THE HORSH.

Nike+ App

I beat my best 5K, 1 mile, and 1K time in these two weeks. All records were thanks to my NRC crew’s constant encouragement. My average running pace has also been going down (-14 seconds from last month) steadily along with my average 5K time. Although you can’t tell from looking at me, it seems my body’s endurance is improving.


Best Meal of the Week(s)


A sushi burrito at Horeca and one too many Smoking Buns, a pricey lunch at é cafe in Sursock, and a BBQ extravaganza on a sunny Sunday would be my top 3 for this category. The sushi burrito, while I always love me some spicy salmon, is like eating a giant California roll. The pricey lunch was satisfying and refreshing but I wouldn’t go back unless my parents were footing the bill. Hi dad. Call me simple but I’d choose BBQ any day.

Other Highlights

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Missed out on meeting Chirine Njeim with NRC:
 Due to Horeca duty, I missed out on meeting our star athlete/Olympian, Chirine Njeim, the first Lebanese person to qualify for the Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

Discovered Fayrouz is my sedative: I haven’t really listened to Fayrouz since my high school days when our driver used to play her every morning when we were still half asleep on the way up to Ain Saade. Maybe that’s why she soothes me, it reminds me of simpler times: IB stress and sweatpants.

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From Smoking Buns to Protein Bars: After Horeca’s debauchery, I shifted to eating Pro Bars and obsessing about calories & carbs. I’ve become one of those people who’s scared of tortilla chip bags. They follow me home.

Workout Track(s) of the Week(s)

 Multiple tracks of multiple genres have been on repeat these last few weeks. These combined with Fayrouz = my taste in music makes no sense whatsoever.
Conor Maynard’s cover isn’t as good as Drake’s original when it comes to something to get your butt moving but they’re both addictive.

Cheese of the Week(s)

Click here.

 

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?

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 #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.