Say it isn’t so!

I received an unsettling comment to my Top Ten List of Fears About Joining the Peace Corps post #4:  The Peace Corps will find out that joining was just part of an elaborate weight loss scheme for me. Here is an extract from that comment:

Although from what I hear, women can actually put on weight because of the way that females process carbohydrates, particularly in areas with starch-rich diets like Sub-Saharan Africa.

That would be one of the cruelest hoaxes ever. To knowingly leave my neighborhood where within .2 miles I can purchase a tuna sub from Subway, a quarter pounder with cheese from McDonalds, Reese’s Pieces from 7-11, and ice cream from Baskin Robbins and move to an area where all fast food will be eliminated and actually GAIN WEIGHT?! I believe this is entirely possible. Especially given my carbohydrate-challenged metabolism.

So what do I do with this information? Do I obsess over it? Do I deny the possibility? No, I do neither. I enjoy my remaining months in my neighborhood and each time I order a quarter pounder with cheese I give thanks that any weight I gain is a result of a decadent food choice and not one of survival.

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8 Responses to Say it isn’t so!

  1. Rachel says:

    I am a PCV in Morocco, North Africa and I have lost 37 pounds in about 6 months. Who knows what the future has in store, but this is the way weight loss has gone for me in country. 🙂

    Good luck!

  2. judy smith says:

    I am an RPCV evacuee from Niger, having been removed from that country along with 98 other Peace Corps volunteers in mid January, 2011. I had only been in Niger 3 months, finished training, sworn in and installed in village for 8 days. At my COS physical it was noted that I had lost 18 pounds during that time. The reason was dietary for sure, coupled with increased exercise mainly in the form of walking. None of this was bad. I could afford the 18 pounds. The dietary aspect, which centered around rice as the main food offered in my village family, was easily correctable once I reached the US. The exercise component of the weight loss was positive. I hope to continue some of the same walking now that I am home, awaiting re-assignment in another country. Niger Peace Corps service has been suspended indefinitely or I’d return at any cost.
    I not plan to purchase new clothes for now—–I’m not sure what SIZE I”ll wear after the next assignment.

    • Mary Trotter says:

      Hi Judy,
      First, I’m glad you returned home safely but sorry you didn’t get to finish your service in Niger. Good luck with your new placement!

      I do expect to lose weight during my PC service for the same reasons you listed above. I’m looking forward to the manual nature of life. I recognize it’s going to be very difficult at times, but welcome the opportunity to “move more” on a regular basis.

  3. Kate says:

    Hahah! I think it was me that left this comment, sorry to build the anxiety! 😉 I’m fairly sure that the amount of walking and labor like carrying water, etc might counteract any palm oil/fufu – related weight gain! They might mean that for people who subsist on brown rice and lean meats and veggies and work out regularly (i.e. not me), that given the heavier diet in a lot of western Africa, they might gain weight. I definitely know that I am thoroughly enjoying Mexican food here (the T diet – tacos, tortas, tamales…) before I go to a place where this is likely not going to be available!

  4. Ellen Rhudy says:

    this post made me laugh a little…when i joined pc i didn’t exactly expect to lose weight (i didn’t have much TO lose) but i also didn’t think i’d gain weight. but i live in a pretty conservative community without good roads for running, and i live with a very conservative family, by which i mean to say that there’s NO exercise, apart from when the weather is good. Food is love, which means I’m eating a lot more than I did in the states, and my only exercise is when the weather’s good and I go for walks.

    Adding insult to injury, most of the male PCVs here have lost a disturbing amount of weight… le le. best of luck with your application process 🙂

  5. Steph says:

    Hi Mary! I’m a current PCV in Guatemala and I think it is really great that you are taking the jump to join PC. PC is a challenge for me on a daily basis – and some days I definitely want to throw in the towel, other days I couldn-t imagine leaving – but for me it has been worth it so far. You kind of just have to experience it to see, I think, though. What’s your nomination for?

    This post on peacecorpsjournals.com just caught my interest and struck me ironically because my site is about half an hour from a US-style shopping mall where I can get ice cream, Subway’s, McDonald’s, Domino’s, Pollo Campero, etc etc etc. it’s less hassle for me to get to the mall here than where I live in the US! I could eat lunch there every day if I wanted 🙂 Although the fresh veggies in my town are far better … and I’d burn through my living allowance in about two weeks if I did that 🙂 So local produce is the win-win!… I definitely did not expect or even want this particular experience when I signed up for PC . (I was thinking of the typical remote small-town.) but, asi es la vida! and it’s turned out to be a cool experience to have the benefits of a nearby big city while living in a medium-sized town. You never know how it’s going to go. Each Peace Corps experience is so different!

    Best of luck to you!

    • Mary Trotter says:

      Hi Steph, Thanks for commenting! I believe that the PC is a challenge on a daily basis for most if not all PCVs. This experience undoubtedly will rank up near the top of my list of “Activities to do in one’s life that Build Character!”

      My nomination is for Youth Development. The category is pretty vague. What I know is I will work with youth (ages 10-25) in any number of settings, i.e., youth centers, schools, alternative schools, NGOs, etc. I have a background with at risk youth so I could also be working in a counseling center or within the court system as such. Or, I could be doing something entirely different. Whatever my role will be, I’m looking forward to it!

      Your comment regarding your proximity to US-style food brought a smile to my face! Not that I’m a junk food junkie, but it would be great to periodically eat something familiar 🙂

      My imagination has created the remote village scenario that you had created. I’m trying to eliminate all expectations (advice from my PC Recruiter) about where I’ll be going and what I’ll be doing. I think you’re right, whatever the experience is will be amazing. Guatemala is a possibility for me because Youth Development is heavily weighted in Central/South America and the Caribbean. Who knows, maybe our paths will cross!

      Best of luck to you as well!

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