As I’ve already written four sort of serious posts, I think the time has come for a couple of lighter ones about my personal life and experiences. This one is actually very frivolous indeed, it´s about my weight loss due to severe trauma.
The U S of A, a BIG country
Some of my fellow fellows may have heard me mention some of the freaky foods I’ve eaten, or would be willing to eat, and most Americans I’ve met are well aware of the many food adventures one can have in my country. The fact is that I love food, all kinds of food. I’ve eaten dollar lunches in the markets of Perú and 40 dollar dinners in its finest restaurants. I’ve had roasted goats head in Bolivia and dined in Do Leoni, one of Venice’s finest restaurants, thanks to my mother’s travel agent benefits. I’ve enjoyed my lunch while my students gagged with it while teaching at the San Martín School in Ventanilla, where the volunteer mothers would cook for 300+ people at a time in pots you could cook a person in. I enjoy vegan food as well as McDonald’s, at least McD’s in Perú, I haven’t tried it here yet and I’m not sure I ever will.
I also consider myself a very lazy person and any exercise without a clear purpose apart from exercising is out of the question. The few times I’ve been to the gym have been the most boring and unfulfilling hours of my life. I don’t enjoy ball sports, which may be a remnant of the many times I’ve had footballs hit my head in school, so my chances of joining with friends back home for an indoor football match or “Pichanga”, as we call it, are null. Considering all this, it is very rare that I ever lose any weight. I am also very proud of my well rounded gut, it has been part of me for a long time.
When I announced my coming to the US many people warned me: “Webón, you’ll get fat with the food they eat up there man, be careful with those munchies.” People told me that real fruit is nonexistent and that vegetables are prohibitively expensive. I thought they were right. The few times I’d been in this country to see my friends, eating home cooked food had been rare and 2 am eating one dollar Taco Bell burritos had been a remarkable experience. Huge tubs of soda that lasted for hours, free refills and every flavor you could think of had also been the joy of my visits. I was thinking of giving in to the American way of life, covered in orange colored cheese and whipped cream in a big bucket.
But, if people at home warned me, people here SCARED me. Not by saying anything, but by the sole fact of being as they were. My first stop in my way to College Park MD was the aptly named George Bush Airport in Houston TX. There I saw the first sign of danger: a man in a little machine, half scooter, half wheelchair. He was not disabled, he was not hurt, he was HUGE. He made me rethink my lunch options and, instead of the bacon burger I had in mind, I had a salad with some chicken on it, definitely GMO. After I got here I started seeing some more of those little cart-bike things. I also saw people with canes, not old, but well into their adulthood, who needed extra support for their humongousness. A thought soon formed in my head: “People here are not just fat, they’re seriously SICK from being fat.” Being chubby is fun, despite the probable heart conditions, but being unable to walk properly will destroy your life.
This instant trauma motivated me to have the healthiest food I could find (most of the time). I don’t buy beef at the supermarket because it´s expensive and I don’t buy chicken because most American chickens are mutant beakless beasts, or at least I like to think they are. At home I eat fish and soy, which is not bad or tasteless as people say it is. The organic supermarket near my house has really great fruit and vegetables which are not as expensive as one could think, considering they actually taste like something, unlike the nasty GMO fruit at most supermarkets. Apart from all this, I don’t have a nice lady that cooks for me at home and serves big, loving Peruvian portions. I miss food from back home but I’ve covered that need by buying Peruvian hot sauce at my local Latino market. So, all in all, I think I’m eating good food. Good in two senses, it tastes good and is satisfying, and it is good for me because my arteries won’t get clogged with burger fat and cheddar cheese. I’m not “on a diet”, which sucks, I’ve just changed my eating habits.
Apart from that, I am now biking very frequently. Biking has been the only sport I’ve enjoyed in my whole life because it has a purpose: you go somewhere. So, before I came here, I’d already decided to buy myself a bike. My house is closer to work than the distance between one metro stop and the next and it would’ve been absurd to spend 3.40 dollars a day if the walk from the metro to my office in Van MUNCHing Hall was going to be almost as long. Thanks Google maps! After a few rides through College Park I also noticed the beauty of the bike trails it has, you go through small patches of forest and scare off little bunny rabbits and deer as you pass at full speed (Yes, full speed is a thing I enjoy while biking). I soon noticed the pouring sweat and how wet my t-shirt was when I got to work, I didn´t mind that. This way, “Swifty Steel” and I became great friends. There is no one day that I don’t ride it, it’s very fun.
So, my trauma with BIG people and my need for cheap transportation have had an unexpected result. Now I have to poke a new hole in the belt I use to go to work or my shirt will keep popping out.