Thursday, April 21, 2011

Watching my Weight While a Guest in a Foreign Land

Well, after 4 days in Zambia, let me report on my weight-loss efforts.

First of all, before we even got to the base, we stopped and I bought some groceries - mostly fresh fruit and veggies - and eggs.  I could not buy much for a couple reasons....beginning with the fact that 6 people,  6 suitcases, and a car seat in a compact car did not leave much room for groceries and ending with the fact that I was so tired I was in no condition to make rational decisions about food.   

So, we returned to a (better) grocery the next day.  

Before beginning that shopping experience, we had to eat. 

Zambian's LOVE deep fried chicken but Jim and I wanted to avoid those places.  (I think one reason they love it is beccause it is very cheap for a full meal) So, we chose a fast food place that flame broils their chicken - and allows substituions for the fries.  (Jim had spicy rice and I had a green salad.)

I've been cooking most of our meals and fresh vegetables are abundant and easy to get (walk up the road a few minutes and they are selling them on the side of the road) so mostly our meals so far have been pretty 'good'.

Today, we had our usual 3 eggs (2/3 whites) each for breakfast - along with some grapes and tomatoes.

Later in the morning, we were invited to go for a walk with Vinjelu's cousin, Philip (who lives with them) and the kidlettes.   

I just want to interject something about the bread that you buy in the grocery here.  (Even the good grocery store) .........  IT SUCKS!!!!   First, it is hard to find anything but white bread.  Then, if it isn't mouldy when you get it home, it will be within a day.  Third, it is so crumbly you can barely eat it.  Kath says "Oh, you have to toast it before you try spread something on it".  (No toaster in this house)   So.....this morning when we arrived at the roadside 'Ntemba' and we smelled fresh bread, we were tempted.  It's not like either of us has tried to eat alot of bread since we've been here - once for each of us - but I think the thought of such horrid bread being all that is available sent us into the arms of temptation.   One dozen BIG buns (white bread - freshly made) cost about $1.50.   I found out later these are called 'Local Buns' and are the bread the poor buy.   Such a backward place....the poor eat bread that is fresh and tastes good, the rich eat lousy bread.

Before I could pay for the buns, Philip suggested we pick them up 'on our way back'.

"On our way back from where?"  I asked

"We will go to Rocky Gardens for a coke"  he quietly replied.

OK, I guess we'll pick them up when we come back.

We walked along the side of the road (highway) for at least 2 km - not real fast since Seth was walking with us, but not dawdling, either. 

After a short stop at the 'Resort' (see description on my other blog) we started back down the road to the highway along which we would walk.    So, we walked about 4 kms today.   (And so did Seth)

Good thing, too, since those buns were DELICIOUS!!!  Especially with a small amount of Miracle Whip and a slice of fresh tomato on top.

So, lunch was not real 'diet friendly'.

Well.....there was still nearly half a day in which to get back on track.


The students had asked that we eat with them tonight.  Tonight the menu was Nshima (white cornmeal) with 'Soup' , beef, and rape.  

The 'soup'  is fresh veggies cooked down to a sauce in which the beef is cooked.

The beef is what I would call Soup Bones.....not much meat, lots of bone, and too much fat.

Rape is (I think) Canola leaves which is cut up into very narrow strips.  I do not know exactly how it is cooked except that there is obviously oil involved.  Personally, I do not like it at all - it has a bitter taste to me.  But it would have been a good choice because it is, after all, a vegetable and very green.   Rape seems to be the most common vegetable.....when you are at a fast food place that offers 'vegetable' with the meal, it is inevitably Rape.

Let me tell you how to eat with take the hot cornmeal which has been cooked to be very stiff and pinch off a good sized piece with your fingers, roll it in your hand, put an indentation in the center, then use it to scoop up soup and rape (or whatever is on your plate).

No cutlery.

Everyone washes their hands before they eat.

It is actually pretty good, as far as taste is concerned.   I cannot see that it is real healthy.....Although pretty much ALL of Africa literally lives on white cornmeal - they all call it something different, but it is the same thing.   For most of the people, cornmeal is the only food they get most days. 

At the YWAM base, it is a staple and is served at most supper meals.  It is filling and very cheap.

Not so good for Jim and I - except as a gesture toward the culture here. 

At any rate, it was a very high carb day for us.  

Good thing we walked 4 km in the morning.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Perils of Flying Fat

The Perils of Flying Fat

So we've been in Zambia now for about 2 days. It seems much longer because there is always something going on and believe it or not, there is little time to write on either of my blogs. I haven't even organized our suitcases yet - that is another job for today. But I don't want to let too many days go by without posting.

I have come to the conclusion that fat people should not fly - or they should at least not fly economy class.

Spending 18 hours on an airplane is hard enough when you don't have to deal with an extra 100 pounds.

First look at that narrow seat and you wonder if you can even squeeze into it. Then, you worry that the seatbelt will not go around your belly and you will have to go through the humiliation of asking for an extender. Just buckling a seatbelt is difficult anyway - the extra fat on your arms fights with the fat around your belly and forget about trying to actually SEE what you are doing!

So, now you're settled. and you've kicked your purse or you laptop bag under the seat in front of you, knowing that getting it back will be nearly impossible because to get it, you have to bend in half in order to reach the floor (unless you have abnormally long arms) and your belly makes folding yourself in half a fantasy on the level of world peace. But you will deal with that didn't really want to read that book anyway, did you?

So you sit, leaning away from your seat mate as much as possible, and holding your arms across your chest so that you don't rub shoulders (literally) with the person sitting next to you - even if that person is the one you love, you need to have some 'personal space'. You are barely in the air and the cabin crew begins to come around with beverage service. New stress.........will the food tray fit in front of your big belly? You start adjusting yourself and finding out what works BEFORE you are embarrassed in front of the svelte woman serving drinks. have a food tray and you have something to drink, and you're thinking you should have ordered a double whiskey (a couple times) so you could just pass out and be unaware of the discomforts of flying.

Then the food comes. Oh man, if it wasn't crowded enough already, they set a tray in front of you with at least 3 different containers, a napkin, salt and pepper, a toothpick, and a cup. The space between your body and the food is 1 m.m AND it is in your lap (so to speak), not at table level. There is no room for you to bend forward slightly to eat as the 'normal sized' passengers are doing - if you leaned forward, you would be wearing your food. So, you lift the plate or bowl up to chest height and you spoon your food into your mouth from there, limiting the spillage.

Now you have to sit with the food tray pinning you into your seat for up to 10 minutes or more, waiting for the cabin crew to come back and collect the remnants of your meal.

Even now, you cannot relax because by this time you've been in the air for well over an hour - maybe even more than 2 hours and you MUST get up and move if you don't want your ankles, feet, legs to swell up like tree trunks. If you are smart, you have an aisle seat. If not, you have to ask your seatmate to move so you can get 'out'. This is not easy when you have so much extra bulk.

The aisle is not real easy to navigate for anyone and if you have 'extra padding' on all parts of your body it is nearly impossible to walk any distance down the aisle without having your hips bump into someone's shoulders. *Make a note that if you ever do this again, you'll get a seat beside the toilet so you don't have to go through that again*

The bathroom in an airplane is smaller than a closet - literally. Use your imagination to think about manoeuvring to pull up your skirt or pull down your jeans without falling against the folding door. *Remember 'Tommy Boy' changing in the airplane toilet??? * This is a procedure you will have to repeat often because you need to drink LOTS of water in order to help limit the swelling of your feet/ankles/legs. Oh well, you had to get up and move around anyway - for the same reason.

In between all the struggles to get in and out of your seatbelt and trips to the toilet, you find ways to distract your mind from the discomfort and humiliation. You read (if you remembered to get your book out of your bag before you kicked it under the seat in front of you) or you sleep (if you are very lucky) or you watch movies on the tiny screen in the seat back in front of you.

Air travel can be quite stressful in the best of situations - extra fat makes it about 200 times worse.

7 hours after boarding, you are finally in a room that is not like a tube - the ceiling is far above you and you can put as much space between you and the next person as you wish. You spend 8 hours watching other travellers, trying to sleep on the benches in the airport, and walking around to (every one say it...) limit the swelling of your feet/ankles/legs.

Then you start all over again as you board a craft to take you to your next destination. New plane. Same questions. Will the seat belt fit? Will I be able to pull the food tray down? How close am I to the toilet? Will I be able to sleep? What movies will be available to numb my mind? Should I order those 2 double whiskies this time? Or will the alcohol cause my feet/ankles/legs to swell even more?

12 hours later, you are racing through a different airport, trying to find your gate only to sit and wait for boarding.

This time, your flight will be only 1 1/2 hours long. (Thank God) But your heart sinks when you see that the plane you will be travelling on is miniscule compared to the ones you've squeezed yourself into up to now. You almost groan out loud when you begin to walk down the aisle and you see that these seats are at least 2 inches narrower than the seats on the larger planes. Forget the alcohol.......GOD SAVE ME!!!!!

By the time you've arrived at your final destination and the hugs and welcome from your family ease some of the indignity of air travel, you are contemplating selling your house so you can fly home first class.

I thank God that I am a pretty adaptable person.....these stresses, while very real, can be adapted to.

My husband, on the other hand, found out that he is at least slightly claustrophobic. That could be alleviated by our next trip to Africa if we both lose some weight.

Not a bad extra incentive.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Half Way Through the First Week of the "U-Turn"

My friend told me that when you get 'off track' on your 'weight loss jouney' to do what the GPS does when you get off route......."Make a U Turn at the first possible opportunity".    Thus, the title of my post.

This week has been crazy.

Besides preparing to leave for a month-long visit to Zambia, we've been dealing with flooding, taxes, and medical issues.   

For a photo of the first day of flooding, go to my other blog.

I had promised myself that I was going to do Wii Fit every day this week.    I managed to get 1/2 hour in on Monday.   Tuesday, I got the 'balance board' out, turned on the program, went through the 'body test' and did my first warm up 'game' and we got company.

We NEVER get company, just dropping in on us!  But we did on Tuesday.   A very nice surprise, although it meant I did not get my workout in because when they left, we had to hurry off to town to take care of something - I forget what.

Yesterday, we had to leave the house as soon as we got up and we did not return until bed time.

Today - well, we will see.   Winter has returned, complicating the flooding issue.   Jim has gone in to town for a final medical appointment when he returns, he may decide that we need to leave today rather than tomorrow to be sure that we can 'get out'.  We do not want the flood or the snow to keep us from getting to the airport on Friday.   If we are not rushing off, I'll be all packed so there will be time to Wii.

Food has been pretty good - Pretty close to 'on plan' for both of us.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Starting Over

It is with a heavy heart, head hanging down, and a heavy everything that I come back to you.   I've gained 20 lbs back of what I previously lost.   I swore that even if I didn't lose anymore, I'd at least NEVER go back to where I was....yet, here I am.

I could make excuses, but the bottom line is that I quit paying attention to how my food choices were going to affect my overall health and specifically my weight.

I will have to remove the "30 lbs lost" button from my blog.  For now.

I may change my weight loss approach in the future, but for now I am going to go back to the eating plan given to me by LA Weight Loss Center.  It worked before and is very adaptable to pretty much whatever situation I am in........

.......which brings me to my next point......

On Friday of this week (4 days from now, counting today) my husband and I will be boarding a plane to begin our journey to Lusaka, Zambia where we will be spending a month with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren.   They are missionaries with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) there and we will be living on the YWAM base in our daughter's home.   We will be providing our own groceries so mostly we can choose what we want to eat, but in the interest of community, we will also be eating with the students and staff at least once or twice a week.  Those meals will inevitably be based around nshima (white cornmeal).   

We hope to be able to go for a walk each morning before the children get up, plus I am taking a short strength training regime with me (one that needs no equipment) so even though I am 'starting over' just before leaving for a holiday, I am planning for some success.

I will not, however, be packing a scale so it will be a month before I am able to see if the numbers correlate to my efforts.  (My husband, BTW, is also making an effort to change his eating habits and get closer to a healthy lifestyle.)

So, we will see........

For today, we began the day with an 'off white' omelet cooked with various veggies and some low fat cheese as well as a side of an orange and some nuts for Hubby and some no fat, no sugar yogurt and 'fresh' raspberries for me.  (I put quotations around the word fresh because the berries were on the verge of moulding.....I could almost taste it - if you know what I mean).  Oh, I also had a high fibre muffin (homemade) which is about 100 calories.   Hubs is avoiding all carbs and sugars - I may switch to that when we come home, but I don't see that being feasible in Zambia and I am trying to set myself up for success.  (He isn't quite as susceptible to a feeling of failure and giving up as I am.)

And, now that he is off his business call out in the living room, I am going to go do my Wii Fit routine.  I can get at least 4 days in before we leave - and I know that even one day makes me feel so much stronger!