Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Losing Weight and Getting Fat

It's been slowly dawning on me, this realization of what is happening to me.  You see, the differences between our lifestyle here and in Montana are actually kind of slight and subtle, so it's difficult to notice the effects these differences are having.  We walk a  line between accepting new tastes and behaviors and finding a way to comfort ourselves with the familiar.  Some basic examples that leap to mind are entertainment and food.  We are starting to get twitchy for NFL Sundays with friends and American beer and homemade nachos that should probably have a building inspector approve its structural integrity before being carried across the house to the living room.  I'm still not sure how we are going to satisfy this need here in Thailand, but we're looking into all sorts of possibilities.  Another example is what we eat on a daily basis.  At home in Montana, it was Mexican at least once - if not twice - a week.  Here, a small bag of tortillas are hard to find, and if they can be found, they are of poor quality and very expensive.  What to do?  We learned how to make our own. Homemade salsa and guacamole are easy and cheap to make here, too.  But other than that, our diets have transformed to rice-based, light and healthy (though predictable).  Rice, chicken, vegetable stir fry again?  Sorry kids, it's hard to shop here and think of new dishes that everyone likes.  Get used to it.

Beer is another thing.  When I first arrived in Chiang Rai, I got very sick for about a week.  I couldn't eat almost anything and I wouldn't have dreamed of having a beer at the time.  After recovering, I felt strangely less attracted to alcohol, at least to having more than one beer at a time.  Even now, two months later, I hold the bottle of Chang like it could explode in my hand and send shards of glass into my eyes.  It gives me a slight sense of danger, as if I have to acknowledge its power, so that now I drink my one beer in a glass with ice and I'm done.

All this has led, for me, into a noticeable weight loss.  Two notches off my belt and some shorts that I can't wear anymore because they just slide down to my ankles.  Ch. ch. ch. ch. changes.  This is what's happening to me:  I am eating fewer times throughout the day.  I am eating less food when I do eat.  I am eating lighter, healthier food.  And I am drinking less alcohol.  This is a result of a mix of my environment and my experiences here, and in the end, of course, I feel a lot better, healthier, and I don't miss half-pound barbecue bacon burgers with fries and two or three IPAs.  Ok, that last part is a lie, but only in theory do I miss meals like that.

Now, what about getting fat?  This is more of a hope I have for the future than a current reality, as we continue to figure out our finances and how to stabilize our budget.  I long to construct a life like The Kinks sing  about in "Sunny Afternoon":

And I love to live so pleasantly,
Live this life of luxury,
Lazing on a sunny afternoon.
In the summertime
In the summertime
In the summertime

Many expats move to Thailand because their Dollars or Euros or Kronor or whatever go further.  They can live at a higher standard than they could back home.  For us at present, I don't know if that's true.  At least it doesn't feel like it.  I'm sure that has something to do with the fact that it took me over a month to find a job and we had to spend a lot of money upfront to put down on our house, buy our car, and just secure a lot of odds and ends that were necessary to live.  Now, the dust is settling a little and we're hoping to move on up (to the East side).  I'll let you know how that goes, but I just had an interesting little epiphany about that:  Jess and I are constantly trying to figure out how to have more free time to pursue the activities that make life worth living, like spending time with the kids, being out in nature, enjoying a nice meal, whatever.  On the other hand, we often complain to each other about wanting more money to "get our piece of the pie."  Now it occurs to me that these two things are almost mutually exclusive.  Either you work harder and work more to get more money, or you pull back and take the free time.  Having both is the holy grail!  Is it only a myth?  I'll meditate on that a while and when I have it all figured out, you'll see the infomercial for the answer to it all at 4 AM.

Just kidding!  Here's the answer - for free:

What's happening to me?  I guess I'm getting more philosophical about life - what matters and what may come.  In the end, the conclusion I see coming is, "don't think about it too much - if you can help it."  Life is fleeting.  It's like a bus ride:  You can pass the time thinking about how uncomfortable it is, how boring perhaps, how you wish you could speed up the time and get to where you're going - or you can realize that there are beautiful things right in front of you for you to notice and wonder at and appreciate.  The sunset, rainwater catching sunlight on a lotus leaf or concrete elephants romping in the local watering hole at a riverside park.

Subtle changes indeed.


  1. Glad to see your reflections on what has been and what will be. As far as loosing weight I'm sure ifs from the Sunday football entertainment and not the treadmill (sorry I meant lawnmower). Keep up the good work on your blog and give our love to Jess snd the kiddos.

  2. This makes me happy. I'm thrilled for you guys. Thanks for sharing.