The other day, when I was taking a shower, I noticed something shocking. I could not see my feet. Nor could I see my pecker. They were hidden under a hairy dome: my belly. The water rolled down my chest and over my curvaceous tum, forcing the hairs to align themselves in a single direction. The water swept down the curve and disappeared into the abyss.
After my shower I stood on the scale. Another shock. I had broken the 80 kg barrier and was at 81.4. This is about 10 kg (over 20 lbs) more than I weighed when I moved to Mongolia in 2008. It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure it out. In Mongolia, I don't exercise (who wants to go biking when it's -30°), I drink a lot more (there's no Sharia law here, and plenty of booze) and I eat a lot (my wife is a good cook). On top of that, I eat almost all my lunches in restaurants.
Deeply shaken, I rushed to the bathroom again to expel anything I could. But the effect was minimal. After extreme exertions, I only shaved off enough to weigh in at 81.2 kg. It became clear that I had to do more.
So I am making a new effort to lose the belly. This isn't the first time. I have been successful before. The secret is simple: work out, cut down the amount of food you eat, and drink less booze. The challenge is more psychological than physical. But if you don't do all three at once, it doesn't work.
The first time, in 2003, I went to the gym in my apartment complex in Washington every night after the kids went to sleep. I was really just escaping from the stress of having a newborn baby in the house. In 2007, in Indonesia, I was forced to be fit by my housemate Alastair, who forced me to climb a mountain and then go mountain biking. In both cases, I managed my diet with care, eating half the carbs and almost completely cutting out meat. In Indonesia, I got down to 70 kg.
In Mongolia, it is much harder to exercise, eat well, or stop drinking. So I've decided to document my progress on this blog. The photo above may look like an ascending planet, but it's actually my belly. There is no trace of my feet. You can't even tell if I'm wearing pants (I'm not, for the record).
Now I'm exercising on a secondhand StairMaster I bought from a departing expat. It's unbearably boring, so I put it in front of my desk, from where I can watch YouTube videos with headphones. I also play floor hockey once a week, which is a killer. Drinking less is a little easier, since my wife already pressures me not to drink. The eating part is hardest. I have to eat salads for lunch, and at home I eat the same sized portions as my kids. I've already stopped finishing their uneaten meals, wasteful as this may be.
My initial goal is to see my feet again. If that works, I will set my sights higher and try to lose enough belly to see the Wedding Tackle.
Wish me luck.