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 #7

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This is going to be a short one because I’ve got to get to bed. I’m joining the workforce again tomorrow and I need to get my sleeping patterns back on track. Also, I hardly moved during week 7 so there isn’t much to report.

I can feel the momentum slipping away from meeeeeee. Week 8’s mission is to create a fitness plan for Barcelona. I don’t want to spend my evenings working out so I’ll have to see if mornings are something I will finally stick to…or come up with a better solution. I can always resort to DVD programs if gyms aren’t in the cards? Ew.

Workout Tally

Walking around Barcelona for 6 hours

I’m not kidding. That was it. I spent the 6 days prior seeing people, hanging out, and – as lame as it sounds – saying goodbye to Beirut. It also felt like it took me 4 years to pack. Even with that, it took a while for my brain to catch up with what was happening while I walked around Plaça Catalunya. I still can’t believe I’m here.

Outdoor Activity

I’d say my stroll to and through Parc de la Cuitadella would have to be the outdoor activity (and only activity) for this week. Yes, one day in Barcelona has taken over every category.

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Fitbit Flex

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That one afternoon in Barcelona came to a total of 17K steps. I see that this pedestrian-friendly city will be keeping my totals high. Even with the internship about to start, I think my numbers will be higher than in Beirut since I won’t be relying on a car to get around. I at least hope that is the case because I have yet to find out if I can afford the gym nearby.

Best Meal of the Week

A friend of mine had been raving about the double cheeseburger at Urbanista for about 6 months now. We finally decided to make a plan out of it since we’re both trying to make healthier meal choices.

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Much like the Souks’ The Met, Urbanista is not a restaurant you’d go to when you’re craving a meaty burger but they both have pretty good ones. Urba’s double is a mean burger but I recommend you share it with someone. It’s heavy and very filling; it’s a cheese overdose. You’ll want to finish it but it’s probably best if you don’t. Don’t ruin a good thing. Also, have it when you’re ravenous. If you’re in a “meh, I could eat” mood, you’ll be wasting the meal.

Other Highlights

Lost 4kgs: I know I said I wouldn’t focus on what the scale says but I couldn’t help checking while weighing my suitcase before the flight. Considering I was a sloth up until Sunday, I found this to be very perplexing. My doctor friends say it’s because my basal metabolism has changed after the sustained activity. Keyword here is sustained. The challenge now is figuring out how to do that in a new city.

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Another lunch at Jammal: I had to say adios to Batroun. We grew so close this summer. Ixsir rosé, octopus, and shrimp rolls with a gorgeous view and company. It was the right way to remember my country.

Workout Track of the Week

 

I don’t know what it means but it’s provocative and it gets the people going.

Cheese of the Week

Lufthansa Business Class: I don’t know if I got upgraded or my original ticket was Business Class to begin with (highly doubtful because cha-ching) but there I was. And then I fell asleep during the meal distribution. You win some, you lose some. I got the breakfast on the next flight though! A cheesy vegan nightmare.

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Not photographed: croissant and fresh bread. They were good, I swear. I’ve come to see that these El-Tanein posts are looking more about food than about fitness. I have no interest in becoming a food blogger but fitness has A LOT to do with what you put in your body. And food is more photogenic than my sweaty self at the gym.

El-Tanein Diet Week #5

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I did a lot of research this week on fitness practices and what can backfire when you’re trying to implement long-term changes in your diet and gym regimen. Focusing on the wrong successes can be demoralizing because you think your workouts aren’t producing results and your motivation fizzles.

Workout Tally

1 Boot Camp
1 5K Run
1 Taebo

The schedule is slipping again – uh oh. I’ve got to get my butt to more classes or run more often. I did realize that going to 1/day is better than pushing for 2 back-to-back because I’m pretty wiped out by the second class which makes it less effective. I’ve got to improve my stamina before I up the daily tally.

According to the Discovery Science channel, running for a half hour will buy you a half hour of life so that’s the cherry on top of a treadmill session. One thing that I read about and fully support was beating your own records as a way to gauge your progress. It’s fair since you’re not depending on arbitrary numbers that don’t take other factors into account. I was also encouraged to take note of measurements instead of bi-weekly weigh-ins because it’s not always an accurate depiction of your progress. I’ll still keep track of my weight but it won’t be a cornerstone to this process; I want to focus more on breaking my own records. Time to get a measuring tape.

Mini Victories
Planked for 1:10 (up from 0:40 sec)
Ran my 5K one minute faster than week #3

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Fun Fact
The Nike+ Running app taught me that the interval training I’ve been doing during my runs is called fartleks. It’s a Swedish term that means “speed play.”

Outdoor Activity

I was supposed to be going on a walking tour this Saturday but it got canceled botching my outdoor activity plan. I should’ve gone biking instead but I fell asleep. I’m not even joking.

Fitbit Flex

Oddly enough, I got a few people asking me about my Fitbit and what kind of watch it was. After explaining the purpose of the wearable, the general reply was “so all it does is count your steps?” as if it was a useless pedometer. Besides the data that the app gives you, the wearable is also handy because it is a constant yet simple reminder of how inactive you’ve been during the day through 5 dotted lights that indicate 20% increments of your daily goal. You can also challenge fellow Fitbit users via the app so there’s the added competitive angle.

With that said, I missed the 10K mark every day this week so here’s a new goal: hit 10K steps each day or at least get 50K/week total as a minimum.

Cheat Meal

This is a category that needs to be rethought. After the last few weeks, I don’t think having a cheat meal has been wise and not because of the calories. I am eating normally throughout the week without blacklisting food groups. However, I don’t think there should be this one special meal because it creates pressure that leaves you disappointed and upset if you ingest calories that don’t make you happy. All you’re left with is guilt which gives this “reward” a negative connotation. I don’t want my diet to become something I obsess over, I just want to make the right healthy choices.

For example, when I was having spicy shrimp, the first thought I had was, “will I really enjoy this and is it worth the calories?” If the answer was no, I’d pass because if you’re ingesting calories and it’s leaving you guilty rather than satisfying an indulgence, there’s no win there. The problem was that I wasn’t enjoying food anymore. The key is to be unapologetic when you make your decisions but still be conscious of what you’re putting in your body. And if you have a cupcake, savor the moment, and don’t feel bad about it. Making yourself feel bad about having a treat also makes you feel like you need to be punished for committing food crimes and the punishment comes in the form of exercise. Working out is associated with punishment rather than feeling good.

I’m changing the name of “cheat meal” to “best meal of the week” because I’m avoiding bingeing and feeling like my workouts are a form of damage control. Instead of thinking about this meal as a “cheat,” it’s more about the epitome of flavor and satisfaction.

This week’s best meal was honey chipotle chicken crispers from Chilis. Not guilty although I admit, I can make an effort to choose best meals that have less fried items.

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Other Highlights

Lift Like a Girl Podcast: Nia Shanks hosts this weekly podcast that I just discovered. It’s more of a lifestyle podcast, not just about reps and fitness. This week’s episode introduced me to Lumoid, a service that allows you to test out wearables or other gadgets, choose your favorite, and return the ones you don’t like. She also talked about our habits, how we create them, and how to reshape them. Armi Legge of Evidence Mag discussed the 3 Rs of habits: reminder, response, reward. He also said that effectively changing habits could be better than setting goals and the way to do so is to change your response to reminders/cues. Let’s say you overeat (response) when you get bored (cue). Once you recognize that that is your response and you change it, your habit can be less destructive/unhealthy. It’s all about knowing what your triggers are. The habit I’m going to work on is drinking more water when bored instead of lingering outside the pantry.

Friday at Iris Beach Club: ‘Twas a lazy day spent in the pool and that’s not an understatement. Although this beach resort is of the pricier spots in the country, I can’t say it wasn’t very enjoyable to become a fish after being in the pool for 4 hours straight without noticing. I always wanted to be Ariel.

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Discovering El Hajj Ali: Another Sunday road trip had us wandering around Tripoli looking for a place to lunch. After taking a few wrong turns by the old fair grounds, we ended up at a Lebanese restaurant with generously large plates of mezza. We had a full table of food (and leftovers) for under $90 total for a party of 5 which is very fair considering the quality, quantity, service, and ambiance. Not a fan of the tabbouli though because it had red quinoa and pomegranate molasses in the dressing; I prefer the usual lemon oil.

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Workout Track of the Week

I put together a soundcloud playlist for my 5K runs. Feel free to use it if in need of some tunes. The track that pushed me to 9.5 on the tread was Kanye’s Black Skinheads. Only Yeezy would make you feel like he’s breathing along with your while you run like a maniac.

Cheese of the Week

I’m a fan of cheese and, when in need of a snack, I’ve been turning to mini Babybel singles or mozzarella string cheese. They hold off the hunger monster so you don’t end up getting cosy with the bag of nacho cheese Doritos.

I was exempt from a second 5K run on Sunday because our overused generator was like “f*ck this, I’m out” leaving us to the mercy of the electricity gods of Beirut. As we were all sprawled out on the cool floor tiles, I couldn’t help but wonder…

Are there any Zahle apartments available on airbnb?

El-Tanein Diet Week #3

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Week #3 has me feeling like less of a fitness fraud after last week’s debauchery. It’s gotten to the point where having a weekend without gym-time or activity just feels wrong. I can’t go two days without getting workout drenched, it’s an endorphin addiction.

Workout Tally

2 Boot Camp
2 Body Attack
1 5K Run
1 Taebo

5 classes and a run! Nothing like a bumpy week to make you move your bum during the one that follows. The trick is keeping the momentum going and not eating the entire ocean like week #2. The hardest side-effect that accompanies this endorphin addiction is constant hunger mode. This week, I’ve learned that with a lot of activity comes a lot of appetite so self-control becomes more important than ever and that’s something I’ve got to work on.

Outdoor Activity

I decided to go for a 5K interval run on the AUB track which would’ve been a fine idea on a regular day…in February. Of course, I went at 3:30pm when it 36ºC in July. In all fairness, it is not the 40s and 50s of the GCC but it can feel quite damp when you have to do 15 laps by the sea. Running around sunset would be a better idea but I doubt it’ll get that much cooler before November.

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• New goal to add to the original list: 5K run in 35 min or less

Fitbit Flex

The Fitbit has returned! Well, almost. It recorded the entire week except for Monday. My highest count this week was on Friday thanks to 2 classes followed by Decks on the Beach. Since the parties run late and we were dancing past midnight, the dance-steps counted all the way into Saturday giving me 8K total for that day even though I spent most of it leading a sedentary life behind my computer screen. Looks like Decks is another cardio class. Win!

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I hope the Fitbit will be back to 100% next week.

Cheat Meal

Thursday dinner at Acoté, Mar Mikhael
Bab el Wad Merguez Sandwich with Fries

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I waited for this sandwich all week and, it seems, my expectations were set too high. It wasn’t as good as I remembered and I felt like I had been cheated out of my cheat meal. The whole point of having a cheat meal is anticipation and reward so when you miss the mark, your brain is shrieking, “WASTED CALORIES!” The aches and sore muscles of my 5K run were mad at me for ingesting calories that didn’t make me happy, just guilty. I started calculating how many classes I sacrificed for that sandwich. The fear of disappointment from a meal is actually causing anxiety – WHO AM I?

I should’ve gone with my gut and had a slice of cake instead. Week #4 will be dessert-oriented.

Other Highlights

Arrival of the First Maktoub 3 Loubnan Postcards: I returned from a few hours at the beach in Batroun to find two postcards in my mailbox. Now that’s a good Monday. Check them out up close here. If you’re Lebanese abroad and haven’t sent a postcard already, get to it!

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Workout Track of the Week


I didn’t have my iPhone playlist updated for the 5K run so I used Soundcloud, where I also had not created a workout playlist. Thus, I just let it play remix upon remix of this track. It did the trick but my earphones didn’t do the bass justice. The track seemed appropriate given that he was in Beirut this week. My conscience wouldn’t let me go to his concert though.

Cheese of the Week

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Literal cheese: rkakat mi’leh ma’a basterma, or fried cheese rolls with Anatolian pastrami. Delicious. Just two of these suddenly made me feel better about having a dud of a cheat meal. Considering it was the only fatty item on the table, I’m reminded that our Lebanese mezza is a colorful variety of dishes that are healthy choices full of greens, legumes, and olive oil. It’s not hard to OD on mezza though; a dozen meat pies and a full plate of spicy potatoes with cilantro will still go straight to your thighs so it’s best to stay leafy. Our cuisine is a blessing, when you eat in moderation.

Time for week #4!
Warning: video below has profanity. OH SNAP.