Binging and Losing Weight

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3 Things I Learned While Traveling In The Middle East

Exponential Generosity, Binging And Losing Weight — The “Arabic Diet”, & Gratefulness

I’m feeling immensely grateful, having just spent a few weeks in Jordan with my father and our family. I cannot begin to describe the generosity of this culture, what family means to them (and me,) and how this affects every interaction, on a moment-to-moment basis.
Exponential Generosity

To put things into perspective, my family has overcome life and health difficulties to the extent which most people cannot relate. Without any desire to take a side or convey a perspective that is disagreeable, allow me to explain. My father, Dr. Farouq Samhouri, Vascular Surgeon, was kicked out of his house at age 3 by gunpoint as a result of the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. At this time, he and his eight brothers and sisters were forced to walk to Jordan, 80 miles away. They barely survived in a multi-decade long struggle, and depended on education as their savior. Years later, I learned of their story, and forever feel indebted to their level of responsibility and love that has led to where we are today.

My aunts and uncles — senior to my father — saw potential in my father at age three when he spontaneously learned how to read and do math. They either dropped out of school or never went in an effort to work and make sure he had the opportunity to become educated. Over the years, he proved himself capable, graduating first in Jordan from high school and college, and tied first in the Middle East from medical school. This led to a combined family savings of $2,000 when he came to the United States for his residency.

With just $2,000, he started his life in New York, accomplished his residency, and built his own private practice. Eventually, he became one of the top five vascular surgeons around the world, sending money back to his family throughout the years and providing an opportunity for my cousins to become educated.

I never knew this trouble or hardship, but some of it still survives today. That said, my family is significantly better off than before- with many of my cousins who are now doctors, pharmacists, attorneys, and engineers. Education remains the belief system for a better life, and the new generation has a better life, thanks to the combined work ethic and love of my aunts, uncles, father, and late grandfather.

On the plane ride home, I’m reflecting on their accomplishments, dedication to family, and what Jordan looks like today — it’s a different world, and it’s clear to me that generosity exponentially perpetuates over time:

Binging and Losing Weight -- The Arabic Diet

It seems nearly impossible to imagine how scarce food was, or how happy my family is to force-feed me today. Regardless of income or capability to do so, my family wants me to eat… and when I say eat, I’m talking about 4,000 – 5,000 calorie meals. In fact, if I eat a 2,000 calorie meal, they feel I’m either being rude, starving myself, or don’t like their food. This is all out of love, and it’s a small indication of the ‘shirt-off-my-back’ policy that has always wowed me in the Middle East.

I should mention the food is astoundingly delicious, so it’s pretty tough to resist. Each day when we visit, there is a huge lunch in honor of our visit, and a get-together with family in the evening until after midnight where we play cards, chat, and hang out.

Here’s what I did to manage my weight while in Jordan, and actually lose weight while building muscle:

5-Minute Morning Exercise Routine:

Push-Ups to fatigue — alternating by the day, including:

  • Push-Up Superset (narrow grip, shoulder-width elbows in, wide grip elbows out)
  • Diagonal Push-Ups (one hand in front, one by my side, then switch)
  • Jumping Push-Ups (soft landing)
  • Push-Ups on Knees (endurance-based set as fast as I could go)

Squats — alternating by the day, including:

  • Rocker Squats (heel to toe on the way down/up, respectively)
  • Jump Squats (soft landing)
  • Sumo Squats (wide stance)
  • Side-Step-Squat (lifting right or left leg at bottom of squat and standing onto one leg)
  • Rotational Squats (180 degrees of rotation, front-leg/hip rotators doing work to bring me back to the standing position)

Muscle Balancing For Upper Body — included all of the following, each day:

  • Middle Trap
  • Lower Trap
  • Modified Rows — Posterior Deltoids/Rhomboids
  • Pec Minor Mobility Exercise
  • Pec Major Mobility Exercise

I followed this morning routine with a 2-3 mile walk each morning, having great conversation with my father, and stopping for a coffee along the way.

*NOTE: I also drank 1 liter of water every morning when I woke up to speed up cellular metabolism and ease digestion.

Then, I biased my exercise routine based upon the type (and quantity) of food I’d be eating that day. I only allowed one full Cheat Day per week, in terms of sugar intake, but I pretty much binged at every lunch and ate less in the evening. If I knew I’d be eating tons of bread and/or rice (popular in the Middle East,) then I chose to do 20 jump squats or jumping push ups before a meal and after. The idea was biasing the use of these carbohydrate-based calories for deposit as muscle glycogen to increase muscle mass.

The goal was simple: Build muscle without the fat every time I was going to overeat.

The end result: My waist shrunk- to the extent that my belt now fits 2 notches smaller than it did when I arrived. Of course, I wasn’t able to keep up with my Olympic training workouts the way I wanted, but I actually built muscle mass, lost fat, and got significantly leaner. I’m feeling healthier than ever, and I was able to focus on other ‘finer’ details of health while traveling.

Finer health details while missing out on workouts: I always brush my teeth, but I did an extra good job- as I knew I was eating more sugar than usual. I also made sure to floss at least twice per day, which admittedly, I rarely do even once. I balanced muscles and joints with imbalances, worked on pain alleviation for my neck after flying for so many hours, and committed to feeling grateful each morning to put myself into a positive state each day.


Recently, I became friends with the leader of an organization that has forever changed my perspective on war. His name is Sean Carasso, and the work he does absolutely blows my mind. He runs an organization called Falling Whistles. Essentially, their organization has the worthy goal of ending war in Congo, where over 7 million people — mostly women and children — have been murdered by warlords.

If you’ve ever seen movies with the guys in Congo who carry bullets around their chests, have children fire machine guns at one another and brainwash them to do so… you know what I’m talking about.

As part of my friend’s responsibility and job description to end the war, he regularly has meetings with political officials around the world. He’s met some extremely interesting people, including the Dali Lama, princes and princesses, prime ministers, etc. One piece of wisdom he shared with me was this:

“Every morning, when you wake up, spend 15 minutes feeling grateful.

It doesn’t matter if you fall back asleep — make time for it. A much smarter man that I know once taught me this and it completely changed my life.”

I listened, and continue to do so. While on this trip to Jordan, having an opportunity of a lifetime to hang with my father and extended family, I couldn’t have felt more grateful. Each morning, I woke up and spent at least double this amount of time, then smiled for 60 seconds as big as I could, and started my day.

I cannot begin to tell you what a difference this made. I only forgot to wake up this way twice in 24 days, and both of those days were radically different than the others.

Amidst shocking generosity, a family that couldn’t possibly love me more than they do, and a vacation of a lifetime, I still had worries on both of these two days that out-weighed my happiness (although I tried to keep it to myself.) It’s amazing how much the human mind can self-complicate.

Thank you, my friend, for helping me understand such an important life lesson, and helping me realize the importance of appreciation.


And, to my family — thank you for your unending hospitality, love, and support. I learn from you with every interaction and become a better human being.

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About Author

Dr. Kareem Samhouri

Dr. Kareem Samhour is known as (perhaps) the best Doctor of Physical Therapy & Kinesiologist on the internet. People come to him for results when other methods fail, injury gets in the way, or health situation is more complicated. Dr. Kareem Samhouri exercising In fact, he and his companies reach a combined total of 1.5 MILLION people on a daily basis to help them with their health. If you ever saw Dr. Kareem on the street and mentioned something was going on with your health, however, he would volunteer and offer to help you for free... that's the Dr. Kareem way.

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