Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Life in Guatemala A to Z: Gaining Weight

Everyone told me Americans who move to Guatemala will lose an average of 30 lbs their first year. I must be the only American expat who actually gains a significant amount of weight. I don't know how much because I didn't bring along my scales due to limited luggage and after all why should I need them, right?

When I saw recent photos from when my son came to visit. I was shocked to see how big I looked. GAH. Despite no car and walking everywhere, despite the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, despite the smaller portions in food carts and restaurants than typical American fare, I somehow managed to gain weight during my first six weeks here.

My husband hasn't gained-- usually he's the one who gains while I stay the same-- in fact, he's dropped one notch on his belt. My son and daughter-in-law have both dropped sizes and now can't wear most of the clothes they brought with them. And then there's me. (No picture with this one.)

The weird thing is I didn't even realize I was putting on weight until it was there. My best guess is it was stress eating caused by adjustment issues, as well as a fast unexpected trip back to the States for my sister's funeral.

Since I returned to Panachel, given up the US stress-eating and gone back to Guatemalan type-eating, I have noticed my pants are now looser. Let's hope there is no more gaining weight!

35 comments:

  1. When I moved to Norway I lost a lot of weight....Fish for breakfast, that was a big change!

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  2. I can imagine the stress has played a big role in your weight gain. I hope things will be on a more even keel for you now.

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  3. When I ived in Spain I lost weight, since returning to the Uk sorry to say I have gained it all back on. Hope yours improves and stays the weight you want.. Good luck with the challenge.
    Yvonne.

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  4. I agree with Julie, stress will do it, especially losing your sister and traveling for the funeral. For me, it was my thyroid going wonky. If it continues, I'd get it checked out.

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  5. I don't use a scale too often, how tight or loose my clothing fits tells me the story. That is, except if my clothing got washed in hot water and shrunk. That is what I tell myself, anyway.

    You have had so much on your plate these past few months, it is no wonder you have put stress weight on. It will come off easily when things settle in.

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  6. Yes stress and stress eating does lead to weight gain. You can reduce the junk food (if you are eating it) and go for walks.

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  7. You still look great to me Karen! :)

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  8. I understand stress-eating. Good luck. I hope you won't gain weight again. Take care.

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  9. Stress destroys all that is good, but you are once again on the right path. Fruits and veggie's do have loads of carbs - and for me, no matter the food, if it has carbs, it is the enemy! LOL

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  10. Stress will either pile on the pounds or take 'em off. Bad stuff, stress. Hope you stay on the unstressed track.

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  11. Just *looking* at the food-photos in a previous post of yours I imagined gaining weight would be the logical direction. I had no idea there was something known as a move-to-Guatemala-diet.
    Are you firmly an ex-pat? Hard to imagine Farm Girl not coming back home...

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  12. Don't worry about it. The weight will melt when your adjustment period ends. I am so sorry to hear the sad news of your sister. No wonder you are stress eating. I would say "grief eating" is more like it. Take care Karen. Adjusting to a new country and culture takes time. Lots of time.

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  13. You really point out how bad our food habits here in the states are. I can't wait for more fresh fruit and veggies to be available in the stores and farmers' markets.

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  14. Hopefully you can lose now. Our neighbor's daughter recently returned from a year teaching in South Korea, and she was starting to soften and poof a little when she went, but she came back so skinny. Americans eat worse than any other developed nation.

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    1. Susan and Diane, The American diet is horrible, that's all there is too it. Combine it with high stress pressure to earn more and have more and our love affair with our cars, and you've got a recipe for obesity.

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    2. It's not just in the US, and if you watch some of the shows, like the UK's Supersized vs Superskinny, you'll learn how bad other countries also struggle.

      Granted we a wide range of crap to pick from, but I live here and I don't eat at fast food joints, but instead make everything from scratch in my own kitchen.

      It's easy to blame location and access but really, it's up to the person to stop shoving crap down their faces, and start taking responsibility for their own eating. Rather than eat what's fast, cheap and ready.

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  15. Stress does play a big part in weight gain - I'm a stress eater too, so I feel your consternation :) Good luck with getting into the Guatemalan routine.
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

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  16. Now you know! I hope there is no more stress, Karen. Still very sorry about your sister.

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  17. I'm the same way. I eat when I get stressed. Its been a battle here.

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  18. Wow, I lost like 40 pounds while living in Central America. Of course, I think most of that was from when I had cholera, and the parasites after that helped me keep the weight off. The bad thing was it was mostly muscle weight I lost :(

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  19. Stress will do that! I bet it will start coming off now. Good you didn't notice, sometimes I feel like we get so/too focused on it. Can't wait to hear more about the food and your adventures with it there!

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  20. I lost weight the first two years living in China, but I guess I got acclimated after that and gained weight my last three years.

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  21. I lived in England for a year. Because I was walking everywhere, I dropped weight very quickly, and I ate very differently. When I returned to the States...well, I put it all back on. I'm so sorry to hear about your sister.

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  22. I tend to gain/lose weight without initially noticing.. until clothing starts feeling tight or I take a photo. Mirrors don't help, as I have a very distorted body image ( when I look at myself in the mirror I see a very overweight person. The reality, I'm told, is that I'm not skinny, but I'm not as big as I imply or sometimes even dress for)

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  23. When I first saw the title of this post, I laughed. First Food, and now Gaining Weight--you are awesome! :) But then I read about the loss of your sister and felt very sad for you. It must have been so difficult to have her pass on while you were away. I'm glad you don't feel the need to stress eat anymore. Hugs.

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  24. That's an interesting observation. When I spend time in the Philippines, I usually lose a few pounds. When I spend time in India, I gain. Both of them have me walking a lot, but I get very different results. (Indian food is my favorite, though, so that may be part of the problem.)

    Sorry to hear about your sister. I'm sure the stress did contribute a lot to what you were seeing. I'm glad things are settling in for you now. Thanks for sharing this with all of us!

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  25. Stress and the Standard American Diet can really pack on the pounds. Hopefully, your stress-free days will be many from here on out. So sorry to hear about your sister. Hugs to you.

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  26. Looking forward to following along your journey. I would love to live abroad. We have begun traveling in recent years. You are right lots more walking, smaller portions and great fruits and veggies.
    You will drop that weight in no time! Stopping by and following along from the A-Z challenge.

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  27. I can definitely sympathize with the stress eating. I need to shed quite a few pounds of my own.

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  28. Stress and American portions when you were home is enough to explain it. And with all that to deal with - forget about your weight. It will sort itself. Do what you need to do to look after yourself.

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  29. Watch the many of the UK and Australian shows about diet and eating and you'll soon realize that it's not only the US that stress eats.

    It is rather, a poor coping technique shared around the world. Regardless of where we live, it's up to the person to stop shoving food down their face when in stress-mood.

    Fix that, and the rest will take care of itself.

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  30. when I read the "lose 30 pounds" comment, I considered buying a plane ticket. Then I read the rest of your story and know I would certainly be the only other American to gain weight - especially if stress is a factor!

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  31. Hello. I really enjoyed the post about your adjusting to life in Guatemala. I think if I were in your place, I'd gain weight from not getting out and about because a have an innate fear of dogs and you say that dogs are everywhere. I've been to South America twice and enjoyed it both times. My oldest grandson and his wife have a little girl they adopted as an orphan from Guatemala. We all love her dearly. Best regards to you. Ruby aka Blabbin' Grammy. I'm number 789 on the challenge list. Hope to see you visit. :)

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  32. Hi Karen .. I'm sure that's the very good reason for gaining weight and now it'll come off - the way of life sounds wonderful .. lots of walking and lots of fresh .. the fried stuff can be avoided to a point .. well done on feeling easier .. cheers Hilary

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  33. I'm glad the weight is coming back off. :) I stress eat too so I can definitely see that causing weight gain.

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