Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fly high above the mountains

Today I crossed one goal off my bucket list:

I FLEW

I literally flew up in the sky. And it was every bit as fantastic as I had imagined.

Each year I come to Ehden in the summer, and each year I look up to the clouds and see these amazing people flying above us. Mia has baptized the yellow paraglider Le Petit Prince. Because like The Little Prince, he flies a yellow aircraft and he makes us dream.



Since then, she has been begging to fly with him. That is not happening right now, for obvious reasons. But I told her today I was going to fly one of those gliders and she got so excited.

Source: Ehden Mountains Activities

She asked me earlier if I saw him in the sky. Little does she know I actually flew with him.

Mia's Little Prince is called Marc and he totally deserves the title my daughter bestowed upon him because he is Flying Royalty.

The minute you start talking to Marc about Ehden Mountains Activities, you fall in love. He is so passionate about what he does and this is literally his life. He does not waste time promoting himself or gloating, and yet, his reputation is well established because of his commitment and professionalism as well as his dedication to doing things the right way.

In a country like Lebanon where regulations and laws governing such businesses are virtually non existent and seasonal occupations are usually dealt with like hobbies, it was refreshing to see someone so involved and dedicated.

It is not enough to adore your passions in order to turn them into your livelihood.

But most importantly, when the person you need to trust has to actually care for your safety and your life, it becomes an entirely other ball game.

Marc has got game. He is responsible and takes every step needed to be on top of things and comfortable with his clients and himself in any situation in the air or on the ground.

When it comes to paragliding in particular, he has completed all international trainings and certifications to ensure every flight is completed safely and smoothly.

Source: Ehden Mountains Activities
Source: Ehden Mountains Activities
Source: Ehden Mountains Activities
Source: Ehden Mountains Activities

This professionalism is reflected in every detail and exercise he undertakes, be it paragliding, camping, or any of the other activities he offers at the highest altitudes (zip line, rappel, caving, etc.) and yes, it is a bike on a string that you saw up there!

A post shared by Rouba Abouzeid (@abouzeid) on

So if you ever swing by Lebanon, make sure you pass by my hometown of Ehden, give Marc a call and let him take your breath away.












Experience the adventure of a lifetime in the sky and make sure you check the other activities too. Off-roading to Qurnat Assawda, the highest peak in the Middle East (3080m of altitude) and spending the night at 2000m above sea level must also be on your list!

And... Enjoy!


Ehden Mountains Activities
... Call on +961 3 754 928
... On Facebook
... On Instagram




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Monday, July 24, 2017

Me Vs Me

Is it me or does time fly for everyone? I just realized I have been in Lebanon for a whole month. It feels like we have just arrived.

I am trying to keep on track with my fitness goals but somehow my diet has taken a hit. Not that I put on weight (I hope! My old school scale is not very accurate here) but I am definitely stuck on a damn plateau. This has got to be the most annoying phase of a diet. 

Source: IG

I have switched from EMS to Personal Training here, mostly for practical reasons. In the little town where I am spending my summer, choices are limited and the nearest EMS studio is 40 minutes away. It seems a bit ridiculous to drive an hour and a half in scorching heat for a 20 minutes session. 

And what better motivation than to have your workout brought to you? It is not like I can escape my own home. 

Source: IG

Jokes aside, this has been hard: a whole hour, five days a week. I feel like I am getting fitter, obviously, but unfortunately, this is not reflecting on my weight yet. 

However, I have decided to stop obsessing about the scale and find new ways to motivate myself to stay fit. Because unfortunately, working out still feels like a chore. Whoever said the first 20 days are the hardest is an idiot. It never gets easy! But I guess this is where commitment comes to play. You need to want it, bad. 

New Challenges

The first time I stumbled upon Spartans on Instagram, I was floored. Who on Earth would ever do that? As my dear Vani would say: "There aren't enough wet wipes in the world!"

Then I realized these psychos were actually doing something fantastic: Special Spartans! And I told myself, one day I would race with Jad. What a monumental way to show support and raise awareness on Autism, right? That was a while ago and back then, I was very far from where I stand today and the idea of racing to something other than a cup of coffee seemed surreal. 

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a post from Spartans Arabia and decided to contact them and ask about the next race in the UAE. It turns out it is happening soon: November 10 in Hatta. If that is not the universe telling me it is not hearing my lousy excuses, then I do not know what that is!

Source: Spartan Arabia

BRING IT SPARTA!

I am so ready for you! I will train like a mad woman and I will race and... I will not die. Hopefully. It would be very unfortunate. Those races take place in the mud and all kinds of crazy, dirty holes. I am not sure anyone would pick me up if I would happen to collapse somewhere...

So this summer is like a pre-training program right now. When I get to Dubai, I have about two months to kick my butt into shape. 

Then, it's mud time baby! ;)

(Hopefully I will follow through.... LOL) 



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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Winter Girl Looks For Summer Purpose

I was born right in the middle of winter. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with my utter aversion to summer but one thing is certain: I hate it. 

I cannot stand to be in the sun, heat drives me insane and I am disgusted with the feeling of being hot and sweaty and sticky human skin. I have never enjoyed the beach or the pool and the idea of spending hours in scorching heat just to get a tan revolts me. (Yes, I know, what better place to live in than Dubai?) 

I begin to stress and nag before the season starts, just thinking of what is to come. 

And even though I am in cool Ehden right now, where the clouds are literally underneath us, I still find it difficult to enjoy my time. It is not hot nor humid and a lovely fog has been visiting us for the past few days which makes my heart smile. But still, I cannot bring myself to be content with the blessings of spending the season 1500m above sea level.

So I decided to look for reasons. A sense of Summer Purpose if you will.

Every time I am in Lebanon, I stumble upon objects from the past which make me smile. An old diary. Photographs. Books. Cassettes. They take me back to a place of serenity and calmness. If I want to be honest with myself, they were anything but calm when I lived them. But I guess, looking back, they seem quite peaceful (thank you selective memory)

However, I will attempt to find new, current reasons to enjoy (read: tolerate) my summer. Romanticizing the past will not shorter my days nor bring more fun. The whole process might make the present even more depressing.

Since very few things seem to work these days, I should probably stick to a simple exercise. Maybe find one good, positive summer attribute for each of my senses. Come on, I can find five little things right?  

So, here we go:

Summer Purpose through the senses

Sight 
That one is quite easy. Our home overlooks one of the most stunning views in Ehden. The clouds are literally underneath us and the sunset is breathtaking every single evening. The moon sits rights in front of our swing and if we tilt our heads a little, the stars are almost at hand's reach.

Source: IG

Hearing 
I guess I could mention the crickets or the sounds of happy people celebrating weddings near us but I guess my most favorite sounds are those of Mia and Jad laughing their hearts out in the garden. They are so small and the little things makes them happy. And this alone blesses my soul.

Source: IG

Taste
My mom's cooking, real kebbe and home-made sahlab. My dad bringing us kaak from Abou Arab every week on his way from Beirut. All of those but maybe also the iconic mshabeshle or even Salem's Arabic ice cream? Or is it biscuits with raha? So many delicious treats that I can only find here. This is not helping at all. I am still struggling with my diet so I probably should have skipped that entire part...

Source: IG
Source: IG

Source: IG

Source: IG

Source: IG

Smell
The other day I woke up to smell of freshly made sahlab and I swear I was in heaven for a few minutes. I just love it and even though I have made it a few times in Dubai, there is nothing like having a fresh cup in the garden, looking at the mountains and taking deep breaths of crisp air. (Looks like I am back on food. Great).


Source: IG

Touch
Well that is a tough one considering the husband is not in town. (mwahahahaha)! I guess this is a constant in my life: holding my kids' tiny hands while they sleep. Thank God, they are still small enough to let me do it. They keep growing bigger and somehow, when I hold their little fingers, they seem so tiny. They give me so much warmth and in that moment I can actually see the immensity of my own love. I never thought a heart could expand so much but it does. Bigger than the universe and more.

Baby Mia & Mamma Mia

Baby Jad & Mamma Mia+Jad

Tiny humans. Giant love. 




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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

EMS: It's a wrap! (for now)


Sunday was my last day of EMS for the season. 

I am now in Lebanon, ready to take on something new, but that is a story for another time. 

Right now, I would like to take a moment to wrap up this first experience with EMS and just show with clear numbers how successful it actually has been.

So let me start with the beginning: My food addiction has been a problem for years. I have talked about it extensively in my previous post. Without going over the whole story again, I will just say I had tried so many diets and trainings in the past, I had lost hope I would ever get fit.

Then I saw an advert for EMS on Facebook and decided, what the hell, why not? After all, what is one more try, right? 

As a mother of two constantly on the run, I always found excuses not to exercise. But EMS seemed like a good alternative because it promised to be 20 minutes only, once or twice a week.

After a couple of trials at various studios, I ended up at Fit Express. It instantly felt different and welcoming. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed and the trainers are fantastic.

If I want to be completely honest and transparent and show the changes I have been through, I have to share the (very embarrassing) first weighing we took at Fit Express:

Weighing & Measurements at Fit Express

Date: February 13, 2017
Weight: 81 kilos (yes, I know!!) 

Full disclosure: when I first started, I did not want to diet (don't ask). On March 29, we went to Italy for the holidays and came back on April 4. At the next EMS session, I took my weight and was 83 kilos! 

It was shocking because we spent our time walking in Italy and although I knew I would not drop in size because of all the food we ate, I did not expect to put on weight. 

That is when I decided I needed to start dieting seriously because this whole thing was getting out of control. 

So to be clear, when I first committed to the program fully (workout + diet), I was:

Date: April 5, 2017 
Weight: 83 kilos (yes, I double know!!)

The next weighing on May 24, 2017 showed immediate and drastic changes (see image above). In a few weeks only, I had dropped 10 kilos

Date: May 24, 2017 
Weight: 73 kilos

I had intended to take my weight and measurements on my last day but I completely forgot. What I do know, is that the last time I weighed myself at home a few days ago, I was 69,6 kilos.

June 2017

So far, a total loss of 13,4 kilos.

As far as wrap-ups go, this is not bad at all. 


But it is not just about the weight loss. It's about this new lifestyle that I am really enjoying and loving now! It's about being healthy

This transformation has changed my whole life. I know it sounds cliché and it probably is but it feels good to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and not get so angry, tears just start rolling down your cheek for no apparent reason.

It feels fantastic to go to mainstream stores and try on clothes that actually fit and look decent on a body you are used to hating. Even if you are still trying on the sizes at the larger end of the spectrum.



The bottom line is simple: It is LOVE

It is more than just looking good. It is about feeling good and learning to love one's self.


The discipline that EMS kick started made all the difference. The commitment of the trainers to push while keeping it all light and fun and free from judgement really worked. The technology clearly is efficient (as far as I can tell). And of course, my commitment to change was and is still necessary to this whole process. It is not easy. The temptations are there, all the time. But trust me, it is worth it.

So if you're thinking of getting healthier or trying EMS, swing by Fit Express and give them a try. And let me know how you find it ;)




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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Confessions of a Food Addict


Have you ever wondered: am I full? I think I am full but still, I will eat this whole meal. Just because it is there. Or maybe I am not really full. But I have eaten an entire adult portion that others could not even finish. How am I still able to eat after that?

Have you ever found yourself picking up that box of cookies knowing full well you will not let go of it before it is completely empty? 

Or that chocolate bar, the large one of course, thinking, I will have one square, no one row, then another until the bar is completely gone? 

Or dug into that large Nutella jar with a huge spoon, cleaning up the sides, pretending you are only trying to make a perfect surface of chocolate only to keep "cleaning up" more and more until that jar is empty? 

Or at the supermarket, picking up that M&M's pack and then returning it knowing full well you will open two so might as well take the big one? And once home, you decide you will not eat it all but just the brown ones because they are the dullest. But the orange ones look so weird, so let's get them out of the way too. There is only a few yellows so might as well put them out of their misery. And somehow, all the colors are gone and the bag is empty in five minutes.

Have you ever eaten chocolate and literally hidden the wrappings because you knew your partner or your mother or anyone who cares about you would give you grief about that binge? 

Well I have. Every day. 

It is not easy for me to write this. But I have many friends who are suffering in silence like I am. And I think it is important we quit shaming and start helping. If I can make it easier on one person out there just by opening up and telling them it is going to be ok, then I will be fine with this little humiliation:

My name is Rouba and I am a food addict.

Without a doubt. I had never looked at it this way. But today, as I am getting myself on a healthier path, I have noticed I am exactly that: a recovering addict

In a second, I could go back to eating like I used to. In a second, I could wipe out all of the kids treats in the house. I could. I know I have the horrifying potential to do it. I open the fridge. I see those two gigantic bars of Milka that I bought a while ago and I think "my God, I could totally eat you. The both of you. In less than a minute".  

But somehow I am not touching a thing right now. I am being extra cautious and I am not eating unless I am feeling really, really hungry. I am recording my change and progress on social media to hold myself accountable. To myself first. I do not like to fail and failing in public would be a million times worse. So I am hoping this would help keep me in check. And I take each day at a time. 

Because I am scared to death. 

What changed?

Even though I started EMS about three months ago, I did not care enough at the time to follow my trainer's advice and diet. I had somehow convinced myself that it was important and enough that I move. 

And I think I had gotten used to my weight and my shape and (un)consciously, decided, only shallow people care about their appearance.

To a certain extent, there is truth in that. 

But when your shape and your appearance are a direct reflection of your health, maybe it is time to look at yourself in a different light. 

When you are not even in your forties yet and your endocrinologist tells you your body is way older than your age and you have to start taking meds that you could have avoided by being healthy, then maybe it is time to redefine depth and shallowness.

When your meds include but are not restricted to what people who suffer from diabetes take and you have been on that path so often these pills no longer work by themselves and you now need injections then maybe, just maybe, it is not just about the size of your clothes anymore.  

Maybe you do not have to be a horrible human being and judge others for the way they look just because you decide that you need to change the way you live your life and by extension, the way you look.


The dress

My best friend asked me to be her daughter's godmother and I swear, I was so happy I literally cried. I love that child more than words could say and I so want to be there for her. 

On the other hand, I did not want to be the fat godmother standing next to the dashingly handsome doctor who happens to be the godfather.

Ok, that was vain. But it did the trick. 

So I went shopping for a dress and after weeks of looking, I found one that I absolutely loved. Nothing special, very simple but I just loved it. As luck would have it, the label does not do big sizes and when I tried the biggest one in the store I literally had to hold my breath. That zipper was going to explode all over the place like a damn A-bomb!

I bought the dress anyway. And I promised myself I would wear it. And not suffocate to death. 

And for the first time ever, I followed through on my promise.

A few days ago, I tried that dress on again and it fit like a charm. 

I have to say it: I am so proud of myself. It is only a dress, I know. But It represents so much more than that. It means that if I truly want to change my life and myself, I can. And I have.  


How did it all happen?

I am not sure to be honest. What I do know is that EMS had a lot to do with it. I felt like I was already on a path to a healthier me. And our trainer kept on repeating: "You will be stronger and fitter but you will not loose weight unless you complement your training with a diet. EMS alone is not enough". Well he was right. 

First things first: I called my doctor and got myself a new prescription for my meds because I know I cannot jump start my diet with bad insulin. I have thyroid issues for which I have been taking medications for years now and when I gained weight, I was forced to take pills to help with my insulin resistance. 

Secondly and most importantly: I shut my mouth. I started dieting properly and this combined with the meds and EMS helped me drop kilos in only a few weeks! Better yet, the workout helped me stay firm as I lost the weight. 

Now the hardest part is to keep going and reach my target weight. I still have 5 kilos to go which in the grand scheme of things is nothing compared to the 10 I have already lost. But somehow they seem to be more stubborn.

And of course, most importantly, to sustain that weight and not fall back into bad habits. This is not going to be easy. I leave Dubai and EMS in a few days to spend my summer in a remote mountain in Lebanon. But I will try. We will see. 

Wish me luck! ;)



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Monday, May 15, 2017

To fit or not to fit

I have always hated sports, for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I used to come up with excuses to get out of gym class. I never took up any sports activity and the only marathons I will ever engage in are those involving my favorite TV shows while I sit on my couch in my pajamas.

Netflix is my best friend
Source

I was one of those lucky kids and teens. Super skinny with absolutely zero effort on my part. Basically, I was my daughter. No matter how much junk she ingests, she stays thin. Underweight even, in my Lebanese mother's opinion. Yes, I know, an Arab mother may not be the most objective subject matter expert when it comes to children weight assessment (somehow all kids end up being classified as "underfed" with them), but still:

My beautiful daughter
Source

And because life is an ironic piece of work, when size and weight started to matter to me, my hormones pulled one on me. I began gaining kilos left and right and I have not been able to keep this madness under control since.

Every year, the "average I will settle for" seems to go up.

Now that I am approaching the big 4.0. I feel like I must do something. Not because I need to plan for my cougar years (although that's an excellent and valid incentive) but because I refuse to be that girl people remember on Facebook as "the sweet, funny but unfortunate friend who died at 40 leaving two kids behind because she was too effing lazy to move her butt".

Source

So I tried. Many, many programs from the Promised Land of Skinnistan. Personal Training, Zumba, Stretching, various Gym memberships and the free ones around my home... Nothing worked. Mostly because I hated them. And it probably has got to do with the fact that none of them showed actual results.

Source

Well, that also may be due to the fact that in my innocent, impatient mind, results mean dropping 15 kilos in 15 days. By the way, if you ever come across this diet while browsing the Internet, run away. It does not work!

Dropping the weight is important now. It is the immediate goal of course. But I have come to realize nothing will really work outside of a long-term program. Something sustainable that I will not easily quit the minute I walk past the Nutella Bar at Dubai Mall.

Fitness is what matters. Not size. Not weight. Fitness.

The condition of being healthy and able to move. That is the ultimate goal.

I really do not need to be skinny by anyone's standards. I just need to feel like I can play with my kids and maybe their kids one day not because I got lucky but because I planned for me to live long enough to be there.

And so the search began. Facebook has become my new Google and fortunately it had some guidance for me. About a year ago, I started seeing ads for something called "EMS" in my newsfeed. It looked interesting. Mostly because it seemed like no work at all. A 20 minutes high intensity interval program only once or twice a week. Come on now! I can do 20 minutes!

I partnered with my best friend on this Mission to Sexiness. I mean Fitness. Mission to Fitness.

Source

We tried out several places around town that offered EMS. We liked it. It seemed like a good plan. We know we cannot commit to a daily workout so this was the most reasonable alternative anyone had ever offered.

It turned out to be one hell of a workout though. When they say high intensity, they actually mean "the Devil himself may or may not have been involved in the design of that program".

Source

It is hard. It is work. And I, myself am shocked as I say this:

I  ABSOLUTELY  LOVE  IT!

In all fairness, it has to do with the trainers more than the training itself.

I will not be passing judgement on some of the places we visited because I am a firm believer in the rule "if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all" but feel free to inbox me if you are truly interested and need some feedback on how to filter all those EMS studios.

Source

Mayssa and I are now in a committed relationship. The new man in our lives is Denis.

We took a couple's package which made the most sense financially but also to keep pushing and motivating each other. No excuses and no flaking. We hold each other accountable and this means we have not missed a training in three months!

Mostly also, because we utterly love Denis.

First of all he was the one trainer we met who did not make us feel uncomfortable (or fat, or ugly). He is not judgmental or mean. He is kind and funny and supportive and he knows how to motivate us in a fun and respectful way.

And we literally cannot wait to see him every week!

Source

We work hard with Denis. But he works just as hard. He never ever gives us the same training twice. That means that we do not get bored which is super important but it also means our bodies do not get comfortable. Basically, we have been seeing him twice a week for three months now and each and every time, we spend the week aching! Our muscles are surprised with every session and that is important because this resonates as actual results.

It is refreshing and fantastic that his level of commitment to our personalized program is equal to ours and he is never lazy with his approach.

It does not hurt that he is also very attentive and will make sure we do not injure ourselves (so sometimes he tweaks some exercises to accommodate my bad knees) and he will keep his fingers on the machines to make sure he changes the various intensities targeting specific muscle groups based on the exercise he gives us.

Source

He is a real Training Partner and did I mention we wholeheartedly, completely and entirely love Denis?

- A few words on EMS itself:
It is Electrical Muscle Stimulation. Basically you are hooked to a machine. Each and every muscle group is connected and at various intervals, the machine will electrically stimulate the muscles. It makes the workout harder but it also means each and every muscle is stimulated and working at the same time. In other words, during that 20 minutes, you can do more than a week at the gym targeting each group separately. We work on the floor, with weights, with heavy balls, with TRX, and we even do proper cardio. It is really a well rounded workout. And it is intensive and all-muscle comprising which means you can only do it twice a week maximum to give your muscles recovery time.

If you want to try out, you can buzz him at Fit Express.

They have two branches: one in JLT (on the border, easy access, no traffic) and the other in Mirdiff.

Time to get fit!
Trust me, you will love it!



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