Fitness

Becoming an at-home workout pro!

Hey guys,

When I realized that we would be moving overseas, my mind went into full preparation mode. Where should we put our stuff, our car, our kitty, how will it all get done in time? For the first week I was fairly high stress as I typed up an email to send to all of our family with the good news and asked various friends and family to help us out by watching our bed and other furniture while we were gone for two years. But as I have said before in other posts, Zach and I were very blessed throughout this entire process. In less than a month we had most of our details taken care of and my mind moved on to other moving details…

1. What type of food is in Lebanon, is it healthy, are there fruits and vegetables or do they mostly eat bread and cheese?

2. Where will I work out?

Food and exercise are ways that I feed my physical, mental, and emotional self. I know me, and I know that in order for me to love who and what I am I need time for both of these things in my life. And after reading the book, “Food and Faith: Justice, Joy, and Daily Bread” for an undergraduate class during my senior year of college, I also realized that the entire food process, shopping, prepping, cooking, eating, and yes, even cleaning up can be a time for me to connect with God and thank him for the daily bread that he provides to me and my family.

So, the next most important thing to me to do was research Lebanese cuisine, grocery stores and gyms in the area. I quickly found that Lebanese cuisine is very fresh, although can sometimes be heavy on bread and cheese (but all cuisines can do this as well). And because Beirut is such a large city, I can find any ingredient that I want (for the most part) plus a plethora of very fresh fruits and vegetables. Good food? Check!

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Lebanese Fattoush salad with a scoop of tuna salad on top for protein. Homemade after I had it in a restaurant and loved the dish! The first of my tries at traditional Lebanese dishes!

Gym memberships in Beirut are crazy expensive. Because of this, I decided not to dip into my personal savings for this indulgence, and instead figured that I would find ways to exercise without a gym. I knew that this would be hard for me though, I have belonged to a gym since I graduated high school. I love being surrounded by others with similar goals, I love going to group fitness classes (Spin class I miss you already), I like having all the free weights and cardio machines at my disposal, and I would say that going to the gym is my hobby.

So what have I found instead of a gym?

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I know I am behind the times with this great resource, mostly because I have always had a gym membership, but this girl is great! I look for her 45 minute+ workouts because while I like the practice of yoga, I feel that if my yoga workout is 30 minutes or less it isn’t really challenging to me. But maybe I haven’t gotten to the hard stuff yetSmile

  • Track workouts

Courtesy of Zach who was a GREAT track and cross country runner in high school. I have only done one of these with him but will post more track workout ideas at a later date, I promise!

  • Distance running workouts

Steady state runs along the Corniche=awesome! I am sure that Zach and I will sign up for a half marathon or something here in Beirut. Not sure what/when at this time but it is nice to have something to train for!

  • Resistance band workouts

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My resistance bands, jump rope, and tank top that I had to shed after a crazy resistance band and HIIT workout.

I’m never really looking to bulk up but I like to keep good tone and definition, especially in my arms. Resistance bands are great to help with this and they weigh so little that I was able to bring three different types over from the states. You can also do tons of things with resistance bands, its great!

  • Multiple blogger-inspired at-home workouts

I definitely have a couple of favorite places to go for these at-home workouts. PB Fingers and The Fitnessista. The bloggers are certified in personal training and they are full time bloggers and moms. Naturally they have a lot of good and free at-home workouts to do. I typically will choose a workout and adjust it to my personal needs. Here are two that I did this week and plan to do next week to see if I can do more rounds with less rests:

10-1 Bodyweight Workout. I spiced this up a bit with intervals of jump rope and a resistance band arm workout half way through.

Cardio-Killer HIIT Workout: My plan was to do this 3x through but I only made it through 2x and had to pause for many breaks! Crazy hard and crazy good!

This was the first week that I wrote out a meal plan AND a workout plan (note that the meal plan for this week is vegetarian!). Its going okay, but I have had to switch up the schedule of things a bit because right now I am sitting at home with body aches and a feverSad smile I don’t think I will get to today’s workout which was supposed to be a track workout because I skipped my Thursday workout:/ Oh well, right? If I was perfect at working out there would be no motivation to be better. I’ll try harder next weekSmile

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My scrappy meal and workout plans. Whatever works, right?

It was nice to chat with you all! From the swing of things here it seems as though I will probably post once a week now instead of every day. See you all next week!

~The Optimist

Question of the week: What activities in life are a must-have for you to feel fulfilled, happy, and healthy?

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Beaut Beirut

I have to start this post by sincerely apologizing for my leave of absence. I know that I broke one of the biggest rules of blogging, “Be consistent” when I disappeared for over 4 weeks, or has it been 5? But let me just say that I had quite a bit on my mind and I gave myself a BIG, healthy break starting when my mom came to visit me in Pittsburgh and help me pack up the house and continuing through my transition to moving overseas. I have missed blogging, however I did not at one point during the last 5 weeks feel the urge to blog. Quality over quantity, right? I can say that I feel more like myself these days, albeit lacking a bit of my usual routine (working/cooking/working-out balance all a little bit in flux at this point).  Kinda feels like vacation to be here right now and I am going to let myself enjoy that feeling.

This vacation feeling is due to a couple of reasons, one is that my work week is currently a bit more flexible with some extra pockets of free time. The biggest reason that I feel like I am “on holiday” is because every time I step out of my door to go for a run, walk 10 minutes for dinner groceries, or walk a couple blocks to the friendly produce man to get the BEST PRODUCE I have ever had, I get all excited and giddy. I hope to never get over this feeling.

I think that an important piece of information to share with you all is that security is a bit higher here than in the States. For many reasons, but mostly to protect myself and the people that I will be working with, I will not be able to share much, if anything about the work that I am doing here via blog posts. In fact all of my blog posts will be read by my bosses, just to ensure that I am not accidentally including sensitive information that could harm myself or others.  I will however be writing a newsletter of sorts for interested friends and family. I hope to include more about the work that Zach and I are doing in that, but again, I may need to be rather vague at times.

What I will continue to write about is my faith, good food, sound nutrition advice, my fitness and exercise endeavors, and of course, the beautiful country that I live in and the others that I have the chance to visit while I am here. I look forward to sharing these future posts with you all.

So what have I been up to during my first three-ish weeks here? Mostly getting accustomed to my new environment, making our apartment feel like our home, and spending lots of quality time with Zach while we discover all of the beautiful places and great food that Beirut has to offer. Since we got married we have never spent more than 1 night apart from each other (crazy, I know). We were ready to see each other after 5 weeks apartSmile Yes, we were both pathetically crying when we finally got to see each other at the airport. Yes, Zach was waiting all dressed nice and holding flowers..it was perfect!

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One of my favorite places so far to visit is the Corniche. Its this stone boardwalk that runs along the Mediterranean sea. Its gets really full on the weekends with people fishing, swimming, running, roller-blading, flying kites, etc. Apparently I am not the only one who loves the Corniche.

 

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Close by the Corniche are a group of very high-end designer stores. It’s a little odd, because these stores are so expensive that literally no middle-class person can afford anything from them and therefore the beautiful area that they are located in, called the Suks, is mostly empty. However, it is still a lot of fun to walk around, look at the French-inspired architecture and go to the close by farmers market and flower stand.

One of my first priorities here was to buy flowers for my balcony. After seeing the flower stand I literally could not rest until we returned for a little selection of petunias and daisies. They are doing quite well in the boxes and pots on my balconySmile Thompson Falls, Montana friends – check out the bag, I use it all the time!

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Currently I am studying Arabic and I hope to be able to make some use of this language while I am here, but we will see, it is certainly harder than my college Spanish classes. It is beautiful to write and if that is all I had to do it would be easier, but there are two parts to a language and you must know how to actually pronounce the words (and know what they mean!). Zach is studying it with me and I truly enjoy making fun of his attempts to pronounce some of the harder Arabic letters and words. Recently the class has been getting very hard and I wonder if we will ever figure out how to put a sentence together with all the correct conjugations and such.

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I don’t want to get too wordy on you and there is no possible way I can fill you in from my last post, so how about a few pictures to end things for the day?

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One of my favorite cat pictures ever! Look at the eyes! I have seen this guy a few times during my journeys around Beirut. There are quite a few stray cats which we love!

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Instant coffee (Beirut doesn’t have much else to offer unless you want to pay BIG BUCKS$$) – I thought you would be absolutely disgusting but somehow I don’t mind you at all. But for real, does instant coffee have any caffeine?

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But I do still get excited when we get American coffee, Zach does too!

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Homemade crepes with strawberries and nutella (left) and Manoushe (cheesy bread with veggies). Home and out, we are certainly eating amazing foodSmile

Please bear with me while I figure out how often I want to blog. I know it will not be a daily occurrence like I was doing in Pittsburgh but I want to find a good balance that allows me time for all my new life has to offer. It was nice to chat with you all again. I will be back soon with more good food and fitness finds. Have a great weekend all!

~The Optimist