Friday, April 20, 2012

Battle of the Bulge

When you think about Africa and food, "fat" usually isn't the first thing that springs to mind. But there's a big difference between the lifestyle of the African kids with big eyes from those Sally Struthers commercials and the lifestyle of me, pampered office drone, and that difference has not been good for my waistline.

Having left DC - with its walkability, farmers markets, and abundant gyms, sports fields, and yoga studios - and moved to Conakry - where I drive everywhere, sit in the office all day, and eat way too much fried stuff with rice - I have put on a few too many pounds. To be precise, about 10 pounds over my previous high and a good 25 pounds over where I'd like to be. Jabberwocky has gotten a little porky too, though this is mainly a result of his tricking both his Uncle Seamus* and his Uncle Seamus' housekeeper into feeding him while I was on vacation. Manipulative little furball.

The cat's slim-down plan is simple: I've cut his rations. But for those of us with opposable thumbs it takes a little more dedication. Time to make some changes:
  1. I will go to the gym more often. I'm shooting for an hour, three days a week. That sounds doable, as long as I also make of point of getting out of the office in time to go to the gym.
  2. I will drink water instead of soda and eat more fruit instead of snacks and desserts. It's mango season! Yay!
  3. I will quit eating the delicious but greasy fried snacks the DCM leaves in the front office kitchen. This one's going to be hard, since it's all of 10 feet from my desk, but I have willpower and 100-calorie popcorn bags. I can do this. 
  4. I will grill more, despite the hassle, and put more veggies in my diet.
  5. I will bring my lunch to work. I used to do this all the time, but I got out of the habit when I moved and was discouraged by how many of my standby work-lunch recipes needed things that are tough to find in Conakry. If you have tasty, easy, healthy, portable lunch ideas, I'd love to hear them.
I know, people usually do this in January, but it's never too late for self-improvement. Let's hope it works.

*Not his real name, but he picked it out.


  1. Buy some good lunch boxes -- Tupperware or Lock and Lock -- in a variety of sizes. I used to pack my dinner leftovers into my lunch boxes right away so I could just grab them in the morning. I would bring one for lunch and one filled with snacks. And try to work out in the morning. If you rely on getting out of work early enough to work out, it will never happen.

    We lived in Bujumbura for two years so I know how hard it is. :) Is it safe and/or pleasant to walk on the streets there? I loved going out at 6 am. I'd be waiting by the gate to go out as soon as the curfew lifted. The city was still clean, fresh, and cool.

    Good luck!

    1. Walking around the neighborhood is safe, but the heat and trash fires do tend to hurt the ambiance. Getting out of work for gym time will certainly be tough, but it's much more likely than me dragging myself out of bed any earlier than the last possible second to pull myself together and get to work on time. I am NOT a morning person.