I gained about 30 pounds when I was posted in Bamako, Mali. That was due to a combination of stress (working by myself to grow a country program), loneliness (M was finishing up his contract in Morocco), and a general lack of healthy food and exercise options.
I was fit in grad school in DC because I was walking everywhere and swam regularly at the YMCA. I was fit in Kenya because I worked out on an exercise bike and lifted weights at a posh gym next to the office. I was fit in Morocco because I was walking everywhere and taking belly dancing and aerobics classes at a gym near my apartment.
In Bamako I imploded. I had tô (a pudding made from pounded millet) with okra on top (aka "snot sauce") and fried plantains and brochettes for lunch at the office, then went home and baked and consumed. There wasn't a good gym or pool around that I could go to.
Then when I moved to Ouaga I swore that I'd get in shape. It helps that M is also athletic. We play tennis and I swim and he plays soccer, and every weekend we play frisbee or toss around a volleyball or soccer ball, and I use resistance bands and an exercise ball regularly. We've cut out a lot of red meat and eating more fruits and veggies (however limited and seasonal).
I haven't noticed any difference though. I don't feel any more energetic or thinner. So with an eye toward my 20th high school reunion next year I'm now doing the Self Challenge. I officially started on Monday but I think I blew it last night by ordering ndolé with shrimp when we were at the chi-chi African restaurant for M's birthday. Sigh. I could never refuse Cameroonian food. But at least we skipped the chocolate mousse.
Actually, yes. I work for the privately-funded NGO "Americans for the Freedom of Millet and Snot Sauce." Got any problems with that, Aussie?
I've thought about Afghanistan. Goodness knows the NGO I work for has serious operations there. And it probably will help having a husband named Mohamed.
You'd think I'd have lost weight due to some exotic disease after 7 years and counting in Africa, but alas!