The Curse of Abundance

“Victory has defeated you!”  – Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)

I moved to Guinea in West, Sub-Saharan Africa. So for the time being I have suspended my private training studio while my partner and I have the adventure/experience of living over here for the next 10 months or so.

We’ve only been here two weeks and are already losing weight. More accurately, inches from around our waists. Admittedly, I had fallen into the all-too-common trap of indulgence this summer. It began with farewell parties in Puerto Rico, where I was drinking more than I’d like to admit (as a fitness professional), and continued on in Canada as we lived with my parents while we got all of our paperwork and vaccines taken care of. We also went to Italy for a wedding, where I consumed large amounts of Tuscan food and wine. I also went to Ireland to visit friends. That holiday was wonderful, but every venture to go and sightsee ultimately turned into impromtu pub crawls and vast amounts of Guinness.

I tell you this because my slick 32.5/33-inch waist turned into a 35.5-inch waist as I finished my last-minute packing and prepared to move here. In other words, in only the span of about 3 months, I had put on approximately 10 (or so) lbs. and it was not the lean and mean kind.

I’ve been here now 2 weeks and I’m already back down to a 34.5-inch waist. Why? I am drinking much less. And I am eating less. There is less here! Less at the shopping market. Less space to store it here in our apartment. We have not seen a “fast food” restaurant since we have arrived and, despite it being a third world country, our food is not at all cheaper than what we had in Puerto Rico. Also, because we cannot drink the tap water, a much larger portion of our grocery expense is on buying water. It is not expensive, but we have basically had to plan out what we buy to try and last us a week for drinking water, water to cook with, and water to brush our teeth with. It would be easy enough to call our driver and just go whenever we needed something, but it’s a half hour (when the traffic is good) to get there. So that makes it an hour roundtrip to grocery shop. I honestly don’t feel like doing that unless I have to.

Anyways, the ultimate point I wish to make is that our own abundance back home is, to a huge extent, our downfall in the weight management department. My folks had a ton of food in the house, and it got eaten. While in Puerto Rico, my lady and I bought less, had less in the house, and as a result, were in pretty good shape right up until the end. Then, we went home, and food was everywhere. Despite being totally aware of it, we ate too much and could see ourselves getting pudgier. Again, moving here and having to “ration” a bit more and shop smarter, we have already seen some big changes.

I suppose my solution would be to buy less at the store, take the time to plan each meal you are going to eat in the week, and purchase accordingly. But that is easier said than done. Once you get there and see how much food is available, it’s hard! I know. It’s been easy here so far because our market is about the same square footage as a typical 7/11. Our options for snacks are very limited.

So, as Bane says to Batman in the third installment, “Victory has defeated you!” Our very success as a “first-world” society is defeating us. Statistically, only about 5% of the population would fall under the category of being overweight here in Guinea as opposed to the 35-40% in North America. I doubt I will see anyone obese here. Most here are very slender, lean, and – truth be told – most seem to just naturally have bodies that most Americans would love to have and many spend hours in the gym trying to obtain. Yes, race and other genetics do play a factor. But they also just eat less. They are certainly not on a “2,000-calorie” diet. Since living here, neither are my lady and I. We have a couple of eggs for brunch. We may have a can of tuna for our afternoon meal. Dinner has consisted of 1 can of vegetables with some chicken or lentils and some rice all stewed up in the pot. We add some seasoning (curry) and that seems to do the trick. I bought a bag of chips for the weekend, had some Friday and Saturday, and finished the bag on Sunday while watching rugby. I’m out until the next time we go shopping (Friday).

Living here has imposed moderation on us. We are already seeing the results from this.