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Old 10-29-2012, 11:27 AM   #1  
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Talking Some thoughts about losing weight in a different culture

Hi all, I used to be on here quite a bit a couple years ago and then two things happened. One, I fell off the wagon and two, I was accepted for service in the US Peace Corps . A little while ago I got an internet phone and thought I'd reconnect here missed you guys!
I have 5 more months to go in my service and I just thought I'd share some weigh loss stuff that I have experienced. First it has overall been very successful! When you leave the States you go to live with a host family and everyone loses like 5-10 lbs right off the bat. You are stressed, jetlagged, eating weird food and just plain not eating like an american anymore. The biggest thing you lose is sugar and salt. Everyone here craves salt and we dump it on everything. The diet here is basically high carb vegitarian which made this diva sad. That is the worst combination for my metabolism. I have learned over the years that I run much better on a low carb high protein diet. To make matters worse I kept hearing about other female pcvs (peace corps volunteers) who would get to their sites and not have anything but rice and pasta to eat and gain a bunch.
Honestly that scared me to death. And I was already freaking out a bit from how much of the staple, nsima, I was already eating. Nsima is corn flour that is boiled until it is like a really thick dough but it isn't as sticky. People here in Malawi eat it with everything. A typical meal for the villagers would be nsima with some boiled greens or beans, maybe some little dried fish called usipa that you eat whole. I was so worried that I would just eat these foods and blow up like a balloon. Also from diet changes and stress I was losing a ton of hair! I love my curly hair, that also made the diva sad. However I got a bit of luck when I finally got to my site.

Another interesting thing about the culture here that screws with your weight loss is that fact that here being called fat is a compliment. And that really does a number on you. You may be feeling great, maybe those pants are a bit loose and suddenly you hear 'oh you are very fat!' it got to the point that I had to threaten to stop visiting with my neighbor if he didn't stop saying that to me. He said,' but it is a compliment!'
Me, 'well I come from it isn't and I don't like hearing it. Imagine if I called a Malawian woman thin.'
Him, 'that would not be good'
Me, 'same thing'

So purely the fact that what you are trying to do goes against every cultural norm here really puts you in a position to have to fight for it.
Luckily I live close to a really good veggie market, greens, squash, beans, carrots, onions, tomatoes, eggplant etc, I really lucked out, especially with the squash, I live for squash. But the thing that made the most difference, the thing that kept me fromm falling into a service of pasta and carbohydrate comas, was my mother. To her goes the credit. This lovely woman sends me more boxes than almost any other pcv. They are always stuffed with tuna and salmon pouches and canned ham and chicken. Without her I don't want to think about what my diet would be like.

Exercise is everywhereb here to go shopping I have to bike 12km and up sopme hils that are none too plesant I can tell you that. I used to hate biking but I have since come to the conclusion that I lacked the muscles for it and didn't have the determination to build them up. But it being your only means to food gets you to it. I also have a pilates book and some yoga podcasts that I do on a regular basis. I think the greatest thing about weight loss is the fact that when I flex I can now feel actual muscles under there! No really! I have muscles now! Still under a protective layer but we're working on that.

Since coming to Africa I have gone from about 230lbs to roughly 187lbs and it feels amazing! I was 170 right before Christmas last year but I went home for the holidays and well I kinda slipped up. Then the family came to visit and yeah, slipped a bit more. However now I am headed back in the right direction. My goal is to be done with weight loss before I go home in April. I want to get back and just have to maintain, not try to lose weight in america because that is hard!

So far I have learned a few things 1) the typical American diet is terrible, whatever you do just stop eating it and 2) pick an exercise routine and just give it some time.

So here's to new beginnings in strange lands! Cheers to my fellow fat chix!
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Old 10-29-2012, 11:41 AM   #2  
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Right On!!!
we can do this!
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Old 10-29-2012, 11:55 AM   #3  
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What you're eating in Malawi is easily available in America, in fact it sounds like a lot of it is already coming from America. It's your choices that have been different and you can do that just as easily here as anywhere else. You can continue to do that even after you come home.

Glad you're doing so well and enjoying the experience.
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Old 10-29-2012, 12:00 PM   #4  
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Originally Posted by BellaDiva View Post
So here's to new beginnings in strange lands! Cheers to my fellow fat chix!
All very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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Old 10-29-2012, 12:22 PM   #5  
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Thanks for such an interesting letter and congratulations on your weight loss.
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Old 10-29-2012, 01:02 PM   #6  
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Thanks for sharing! A very interesting read for me, someone who had yet to venture out of North American culture.
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Old 10-29-2012, 02:20 PM   #7  
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Interesting perspective - living in land of less than plenty is very different from moving to one highly developed, thin-obsessed society to another!
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Old 11-08-2012, 08:51 PM   #8  
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Keep it up!
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