Monthly Archives: August 2010

No grocery shopping workout for Theresa, this week

Normally, I spend Saturday mornings grocery shopping. Grocery shopping in Benin isn’t like grocery shopping in the States. It’s a lot of walking, a lot of carrying heavy bags, and for an out-of-shape woman like me, it’s quite a workout.

First, I hit up Soditex for cheese and Lebanese flat bread. They’re the cheapest in town, and I can’t make delicious flat bread pizzas without the basic ingredients. Then, I walk 4 or 5 blocks to the next supermarket,* BSS. That’s where I stock up on basics: milk, flour, olive oil, mayo, etc. Nothing weird, nothing low fat, just the basics.

If I need something complicated, I have to CROSS THE BRIDGE. My bag’s starting to get heavy at this point, so first I stare longingly at the taxi-motos that are zipping up and down block, and then I start walking. Supermarch√© du Pont is filled with hard to turn down goodies, but also stuff like sour cream and other harder-to-find dairy products.

Before heading to the real market, I assess my bag situation. How heavy is it really? Do I absolutely need vegetables or can I wait until my CSA shows up on Tuesday. Usually, I’m out of lettuce and parsley. No, I can’t wait. I trudge back accross the bridge and past BSS, then keep on walking.

When I finally get to the market, I’m sweating buckets and clearly need a break. All the market ladies ask me if I’m OK, and I say something to the effect of, “Fine goddammit gimme some lettuce.” They oblige. My vegetable lady is at the market entrance, so I rarely have to go in. Thank goodness!

All this to say, I didn’t get my weekly market workout yesterday because we hired some neighborhood kids to scrub our house from top to bottom (supporting entrepreneurship! yeah! and laziness! don’t forget that!), and I needed to supervise and get some work done. Today, I didn’t get the workout because we took a car and drove a newly arrived friend around to show him where HE can get cheap cheese and good sour cream.

I never thought I’d get to the point where I actually missed the ridiculously painful two-hour sweat session, nor the sore muscles that follow.

Hmmm.

*Supermarket is a euphanism. Medium sized corner store with a deli section and no fruits or vegetables.

On putting food obsessions to good use: BENTO!

Mushrooms bento

I am obessive about everything I take seriously. Like losing weight getting healthy. I spend hours thinking about food and exercise and calories each day. That’s probably why I’m successful thus far, but it’s also kind of neurotic annoying. I know that nobody knows what normal is, but I’d rather channel my obsessiveness into something productive.

Like Bento.

Oh yes. Continue reading

Oh, malaria, I am so over you!

Tomorrow marks my post-malaria return to calorie counting. I’ve continued to lose since the dreaded deadly disease, but it’s more due to a missing appetite than any dedication to weight loss healthy eating. Turns out, when you abruptly cut out soda, coffee, and cigarettes because even the thought of putting poison into your body makes you puke, your body isn’t so quick to accept them later, when you’re healed.

We’ll see how the counting goes. My sisters-in-law are also coming over tomorrow to learn how to cook “American” food, which means that we’ll also be tasting lots of American food. They’re actually just coming to observe my weekly Sunday freezer stockage and lunch prep, but it’s still kind of unnerving.

I’ll be making:

  • generic tomato sauce (to be frozen for future) pastas and flat bread pizzas)
  • pasta salad
  • egg salad (maybe, if my organic chicken farmer brings the eggs early enough
  • flat bread pizzas (also to be frozen)
  • oatmeal cookies (I know, not healthy BUT DELICIOUS)
  • possibly burritos, but we’ll see whether I feel like making tortillas or not

I’m trying to think of other very simple very inexpensive Western foods that can be made with Beninese staples. No meat, no chicken. Fish is a possibility. Stir-fry would be great, but it doesn’t freeze well. Bruchetta? Lasagna? Lemon garlic carp?

Any other ideas?

I don’t speak Arabic … YET.

I passed my State Department Arabic class! After 12 weeks of not-as-diligent-as-it-should-have-been study, I can now read the alphabet, count to a million, say hello, and introduce myself. My teacher left me with a long list of subjects I need to work on before I start the second course in the series. Good thing it was pass/fail.

Exciting things I can do with Arabic in Cotonou:

  • Read Koranic verses on the walls of my favorite Lebanese restaurants
  • Greet the owners of my favorite Lebanese restaurants
  • Figure out what they’re saying during call to prayer at 5:30 every morning
  • Read arabic poetry (OK, not yet, but that’s the thing I’m most excited about!)

Can you think of anything else?

On having an incredibly supportive partner while on this journey

I am a lucky woman. When I made my decision to lose weight get healthy, my husband was nothing but supportive. Now, a few months into the process, he continues to be nothing but supportive.

He thought I was beautiful and sexy and perfect when I was 225. He thinks I’m beautiful and sexy and perfect now that I’ve lost 20 lbs. And he’ll think I’m beautiful and sexy and perfect after I’ve lost another 55. He’s happy that I’m eating healthily and exercising not because I’m losing weight and getting H-O-T-T, but because it makes me happy.

And bless his heart, he’d move mountains if I said it would make me happy.¬†I’m starting to tear up, just writing this. Gawd. He’s the greatest.

Not everyone is as lucky as I am. Today, Tony wrote:

My wife loved me just as much at 420 pounds as she does now. She finds me just as attractive when I wore size 60 pants as now in a tank top.

She never forced me to lose weight, she never gave me an ultimatum, she never cared about the scale, but more for me to be healthy.

He then goes on to describe women who withhold sex because their husbands aren’t losing weight. Women who want to force their husbands into getting healthier. Women who just don’t get that it’s a decision that a person can only make for him or herself, and that the best thing they can do is to be supportive. Women who want their husbands to be as good looking as they were when they got married. The opposite exists as well. I’m going to leave my feminist hat off for this post, but rest assured, the pressure on wives to stay skinny is as high as it is on husbands. Tony just doesn’t get those kinds of emails because he’s a guy.

Dawn, another healthy living blogger who’s been incredibly successful on her journey responded:

We started going to therapy, but it was clear he needed individual help, medication, etc. It was also clear to me that I needed to move on. That I needed someone that would really love me for the person I was. I couldn’t just continue to stay with him so he wouldn’t be alone. I did stay 2 more years though. But eventually I got the get up and go and I went, me and my cat, into our own place.

At first I cried a lot, I hated being alone but soon I realized so many things about myself. The main thing being I was worth something. Maybe I couldn’t fix my weight and I wouldn’t for the next 14 yrs but I definitely could have a relationship with someone that really loved me for me fat and all.

Emphasis mine.

My husband drives me crazy sometimes, but he’s the most supportive person in the world when it comes to this lifestyle change. Sure, sometimes he doesn’t quite get it, but he really doesn’t need to. This is my change. I own it and it’s about me, not him. He can support me during this journey, but he sure as hell can’t do it for me. Not even with me.

Everyone deserves someone who loves them exactly the way they are. Sure, you can wish your partner were healthier, but you gotta understand, changing your entire lifestyle isn’t the same as learning to put your clothes in the laundry basket. It’s a long and difficult journey that will never finish. Ever. And if you can’t love a person for who they are right in this moment inspite of and because of all of the quirks and faults that make them unique and wonderful, why the hell are you with them anyway?

I hope that everyone ends up as lucky as I am.

We got malaria and it was the WORST EVER EVER

How many times have I written and not saved this malaria post because we lost power? NOT THIS TIME. Ctrl+S. A very long story short: Bertrand and I had malaria this week. I lost a lot of weight in a very unhealthy way because I had no appetite and even if I did, I couldn’t hold it down. Ctrl+S. If you’ve never had malaria, imagine the worst fever alternating with the worst chills you’ve ever had, combined with dizziness, headaches, total weakness (can’t even fold a t-shirt), and a complete inability to think. And that’s on a good day. Continue reading