Explanation for the Noises the Guy Below Me Hears Every Morning.

This morning I forced myself out of bed and with dread filling every spare space in my body, placed feet to tile and limped towards the living room.

This is how every morning this week has began, since the kick-off of my kick-ass workout regimen after a weekend of ice cream cake and pizza.

It’s not uncommon for me to take a trot around Bali, twist into a pretzel with a yoga session, or go for a long walk a twilight, but none of those things have done much to make me svelte on the veldt. A steady diet of carbohydrates has been my sworn enemy (and secret love) in this country, as it has been for so many other volunteers, and I, too, have fallen prey to its calorific consequences. I remain graced with the Gootee Booty I came to this country with, and it doesn’t seem to be headed anywhere anytime soon.

It’s said that a weight fluctuation is in your future when you join Peace Corps, especially in places that are grain and bread heavy, as much of Africa is. Men are weight-loss machines, dropping pounds left and right thanks to less protein in their diets, while we women folk are less lucky and tend to gain as a results of the high levels of white flour and white grains that surround us. How much? It depends, but 15 to 20 pounds for either sex is not unheard of.

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve circumvented the rule of thumb and managed to lose around 35 pounds since my arrival in Cameroon. I move more, I sit less, I eat less—allegedly this is a recipe for not being as fat, should you endeavor to be such a thing.

I’ve got the free time and enjoy experiments, so after recently acquiring the Insanity system from a friend’s hard drive I decided it’d be worth a good, college try, if for only kicks and curiosity’s sake. The program needed nothing but your body to do it’s magic. Bands, balls, and weights were nowhere in sight.

As it turns out, it also needs part of you soul. I should have known I was in trouble when taking the ‘fit test’, a workout in itself. By the end of it I was on all fours, sweating like I was some sort of sprinkler. I managed to not upchuck, which apparently places me ahead of some other ex-pats who I’ve discussed the program with.

Day two wasn’t better. I made it half-way through the work-out and then, despite my brain’s enthusiasm, my body just refused to do anymore. Day three? I got two-thirds of the way through the tape before my calves started convulsing and my heart said its last rites and threaten to quit on me. Two-thirds is a small victory, but I’m counting it.

It makes me envious of the average Cameroonian’s prowess for fitness. Their kinesthetic intelligence is far superior to my own.
Unsurprisingly, I was not the cool kid in school was rocked the world of pre-teen sports. Oh no. I was the nerdy kid who was the only female in her grade’s ‘gifted’ program and consequently spent a whole lot of time doodling or reading animal fact manuals. I’ve not changed much in the 15 years since. I still spend a very sizable amount of time practicing portraits or perusing my Primate Phylogeny textbook my parents so thoughtfully sent over in a package.

I have zero doubts that any teen boy I pulled off the street would kill the Insanity work-out. Heck, I’d be willing to place money on most 40 year old men I pull off the street being able to make Insanity say mercy. They spend their days plowing fields, chopping wood, and haulin’ stuff. Forty-five minutes of cardio isn’t about to trip them up.

This is the land of that one time where a woman jogged alongside me during a run and carried on a conversation without panting, gasping or otherwise indicating she needed air. In a skirt… while wearing flip-flops… and carrying wood…and toting a toddler on her back.

If that’s not the real definition of fitness insanity, I don’t know what is.


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