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 #42

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Taken by Ali Itani

I really need to blog more. Bambi has become all about the ETD and that’s a shame but quite reflective of how life becomes when juggling work, fitness, and everything else. They say you can only have two of the three when it comes to time and activities. I’m missing my Bambi the Explorer days.

Workout Tally

– 2 NRC runs
– 10K Manara Race with Elite Running Club
– 2 hatha yoga sessions

Outdoor Activity

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I made it to Horsh Beirut! Ananda Yoga Center was hosting a free yoga session in Horsh Beirut this Saturday in support of Beirut Madinati. First off, the Horsh itself was a pleasant surprise – it’s a refreshing well-kept space full of families and people enjoying the warm weather. Second, there was a great turnout and strangely contrasting with the jaded attitudes I’ve been encountering in BEY lately. Yoga itself really challenges you to disconnect and there’s nothing like doing breathing exercises in a park while people are shooting off guns from rooftops not too far off.

Nike+ App


I beat my best-5K and 10K times! Mini wins every other week or so are getting addictive. If I can get my best-5K to be my time every 5K, then I’ll really celebrate but it feels good to keep knocking off seconds.

Best Meal of the Week

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Post-Manara race, I devoured one too many nachos at Cheesecake Factory but the best meal will undoubtedly go to Babel Bay and their shrimp fatteh. Or Ajami’s shawarma plate. Let’s just say that dad’s birthday comes with a lot of family lunches.

Other Highlights

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Taken by Dany Tannous


NRC takes over Zaitunay Bay:
 
After our Tuesday fun run, we invaded the marina for some sangria and chips. The group’s not just about breaking a sweat but also about mingling with new people from all over and having fun together.

Beirut Municipality Elections this Sunday: Real people who think about what Beirut needs should win this for the sake of all those who are losing the ability to hope for change. Although it is admirable that there are people still trying to push back, the rest of the country is tired and need proof that the efforts aren’t wasted – that we’re not stuck. If I could vote in Beirut, I would vote for Beirut Madinati. Check out this comparison by Habib at Beirut Report.

Workout Track of the Week

I feel like this has been in this section before but it’s better than something new by someone who hasn’t hit puberty yet.

Cheese of the Week

Turn on the English subtitles for this.

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 #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?

Nike+ Run Club: Byblos was our Valentine

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Taken by Ali Itani

As readers of El-Tanein Diet know, the Nike+ Run Club (NRC) runs twice a week from the Nike store in Beirut Souks every Tuesday and Thursday evening. However, what is not advertised on their flyers is the NRC-organized fun runs on weekends. I stress on the words “fun run” because the main point behind this group is to run for the sake of running, not for medals or podiums.

Leading the pack in this group of awesome folk is Mark Jibran, the NRC coach and all-around positive force of nature. Having a good coach should not be underestimated when it comes to sticking to a fitness regimen. If one’s trainer pushes too hard or doesn’t know how to motivate effectively, then they have failed as a trainer. What seems to fall through the cracks when finding a personal trainer or fitness advisor is not the reps or preferred activities used to get one in shape, but the personal approach they have while one is undergoing training.

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Mark Jibran, NRC Coach – Taken by Ali Itani

And that is where Nike hit the jackpot with Mark. He knows how to deal with people and he knows how to push without making you want to throw spiky pineapples at him so he’d back off.

For each coach, there is a pacer: Mohamad Marhamo. With M&M, the NRC is guided by two smiling and seasoned runners. We are pushed to keep running at our own best pace or, at the very least, to keep running. We are told how to stretch, how to stay hydrated, and how to exercise correctly. And if that wasn’t enough to convince you that they know what they’re doing, both are members of De-Feet Runners, a group of ultra-marathoners who run marathons back-to-back for 6 consecutive days to raise funds for charity.

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Mohamad Marhamo, NRC Pacer – Taken by Ali Itani

Running with these two on the Beirut corniche will show you that this group truly does run BEY. Be it at 6am or 6pm, fellow runners all over the path call out a happy hello to M&M because they are deep-rooted members of this athletic community that is alive in our city. While the rest of us sleep in, these guys are out there enjoying the sunrise and serene calm that you rarely associate with our chaotic capital. By being part of this group and going for runs at the crack of dawn, I got to witness this spirit and, dare I say, be part of it even if just for a few instances.

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For Valentine’s Day, we decided to take on the cultural port city of Byblos (Jbeil) for an early morning 10km run through the old souk and asphalt road to Amchit. On the bus there, while still trying to figure out how and why I was on my way to run on the morning of my 28th birthday, I was also debating how many kilometers I would actually do. The warm-up was set at 2km so that was the minimum but where would I stop? I’d done 10km in the Beirut Marathon but that question popped up, like it does before every NRC meetup, do I feel like it today?

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At every kilometer, my mind would ask, “are you ready to turn around?” But as I neared the halfway point where M&M were waiting with water, I had other NRC members making their way back and cheering me on. So I thought, “yalla, another kilometer and then you’ll stop.” And that’s how it went on until I did the entire 10. I did it thanks to their cheerleading combined with my mind not wanting my body to succumb to being closer to the age of 30. HA.

I was never a runner. Hell, I still don’t think I can call myself one. But maybe, in the future, with the help of NRC, I will be.

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?