I’ve noticed that I’ve only had bad things to say about trying to lose weight here. This isn’t me. I usually am not a whiner. So, I will finally say something great about losing weight in a third world country. Here, in lovely Tumbes Peru, you CAN accidentally eat healthy.
I’ve been somewhat off plan for the last 10 days because my Mom is here and we’ve been traveling. I haven’t been able to really exercise, other than a lot of walking, and my diet has been way off. I’ve had lots of cheese, butter, bread, and just about everything I usually don’t eat. Today I am in Guayaquil and I was looking to buy a scale. I stepped on and it said 86.8 kg (191 pounds). Now, I’m not changing my ticker since it is not an “official” weigh-in, with the “official” scale, and there was no “official” crowd giving the “official” commentary on how amazing this disastrously obese person is for losing weight. Whew!
I may have lost weight. I zeroed the scale and stepped on again, and it said the same thing. I have somehow lost weight on the third world plan! Here’s how:
There are fruit stands everywhere. I live downtown and in just about every corner you can find a vendor with slices of fresh watermelon or pineapple. Next to them there is usually a vendor with at least 20 other fruits. You can get orange or pineapple juice easily as well; just ask for them not to add sugar. They literally just dump some orange or pineapple slices into a blender, add water, and tada! Juice.
If I’m too lazy to cook, I can go to the corner and get some ceviche. Ceviche here is fish “cooked” in lemon juice, with some tomatoes, onions, and a piece of sweet potato on the side. That’s healthy. Even if I go to a restaurant, the vegetables aren’t doused in butter. As long as you don’t get anything fried, the food here isn’t really all that bad for you. Just don’t add mayo.
The only major problem comes with the soda. There is no diet soda here. If you are a pop fiend, STAY AWAY! But you can get water for just a little more. And the heat alone forces you to drink at least 3 liters of water a day. There is no air conditioning.
I use more calories cooking here than I did in the US. First, I don’t have a fridge so my day starts with a healthy walk to the market (in 90 degree heat). If I want lean, skinless chicken breasts, I have to do it. Try it. It takes forever and a bunch of hacking to get all that bone and fat off. Don’t even get me started on de fatting other meats or filleting fish. I am always sweating while I cook (I guess this means you won’t come for dinner?).
Egg whites. I don’t know if it’s a function that the eggs are not refrigerated or Peruvian eggs are just stubborn, but separating egg whites takes incredible skill, lots of patience, and lots of time. I still always end up with a bit of yolk in my omelet.
There are no McDonald’s here. The hamburgers are a public health hazard (there was a report that they used rat meat). There’s no pizza, and if you do find some, it has very little cheese on it. I am not inundated daily with propaganda about eating the fattiest thing I can find. That’s not to say that cookies and chocolate don’t exist here, it’s just that they are hidden behind a counter instead of staring at you at the checkout line. And, of course, you have to walk back home with your treat.
I have to wash and pick through rice, beans, and green beans before I can cook them. I have to wash the cheese before I can eat it, same with the olives. I have to wash my clothes by hand or else try to find someone who will do it for me. Something that takes a significant amount of walking and begging. I have to sweep my living room every day. If there is no water, in order to flush the toilet I have to run downstairs with a bucket and get some water. I walk everywhere, in the heat! I start my day running around my apartment trying to kill off all of the flies.
Of course I’m losing a bunch of weight here. Even without intentional exercise, I am more active and eating healthier than I ever did in the US! No wonder I’m seen as a circus side show here! You have to work hard to be fat here, whereas in the US it takes the work to stay thin.
I don’t know how I’m going to keep this up once I’m back to the good old US of A, but I’ll worry about that in November. I hope all of you have a great week!