With the three weeks leading up to and including Christmas and New Year’s I was doing very well on my diet and exercise regime. And I kept reminding myself daily, somewhat like a mantra, Work Harder – This Will Not Last in Turkey. And so, feeling good about myself, we set off for Constantinople. Problem: at the resort we were staying in for my meetings they served a great, big buffet for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and for snacks). And then they added an “all-inclusive” label to the bill so we could saddle up to the bar and order nuts, Diet Pepsi, hot chocolate, and alcohol like VIPs on a cruise ship. As you can guess, this was not good for me. And then the gym opened at 9AM and closed at 7PM. Are you kidding me? I am not using this as an excuse, but how is a person supposed to work all day and then manage a workout when the gym and pool are shut tighter than my gut in my way-too-tight blue jeans?
This explains why I have turned to The Traveler’s Diet over the last two days. I am desperately looking for a way(s) to manage diet and exercise when I leave Hong Kong and fly halfway around the world, often to places where gyms and healthy food are as rare as me saying no to a big, fat chocolate bar at 4 in the afternoon. Peter Greenberg, himself a former fatty, relates his best shots in 350 pages and much of it is good, sound advice (directed more to the North American crowd than I would have liked, even though that is his audience). The question is: can I implement it? Will I implement it?
I gave his reflections a 3 out of 5-star under Read (And Ranked), but here I thought I would pass along some of the insights that smacked me in the gut the hardest. If you are as overweight as me (20 pounds or more), you may find something here that is motivational. You also may not.
I would like to check out Greenberg’s other books. Here is his latest. But I will say this little nugget packed some serious punch right where I need it. In the gut.
I’m getting on a jet plane again this weekend bound for the ancient land of Turkey where I will be attending a conference that is work related. And I am excited about getting there and spending time with colleagues and two buddies who are traveling with me from Hong Kong. But I hate to leave my beloved. It’s always the same: whenever I have to travel long distances away from her I spend the last 24-36 hours leading up to departure dreading it. Lumps in throat, a tear, and always the thought of canceling, of not going. Oh it would be so much easier to just curl up on the couch and be together.
I’m an emotional and nostalgic character to begin with, which doesn’t help. One of my worst habits is putting myself in my beloved’s shoes. Because I hate it when she leaves on a trip and I stay behind or when guests come, have a great time, and then leave me behind, I wonder what it will be like to be my wife when she comes home and I am not here and it is creepy quiet. (I do, after all, provide most of the noise around here.) And this time I fly out late at night, which means she sleeps while I fly and then awakens to a quiet home front.
It’s crazy to think this way. To begin with, Ling and I are different. While I would putz around lamenting the silence, she embraces it and doesn’t let it bother her. Does she miss me? Yes. Does that slow her down any? Not that I am aware of. It’s also crazy because I am doubling up on emotions, taking on how I feel plus how I think she will feel! This isn’t a good anxiety avoidance procedure. I regularly wonder why I can’t be like most spouses when they go on a business trip. “Bye, see you in two weeks.” The other spouse grunts something from the couch, barely adjusting their routine.
To add to this, I travel a lot. But often Ling and I travel together. And herein lies the real crux of the issue. Since I have the pleasure of traveling the world with my beloved it is hard to go it alone. (Sorry, mates, you aren’t the Mrs.!) When we travel together I am more relaxed, part of the reason being I don’t need to worry about any of the logistics (I just do what I am told). The other part of the reason is that I am secure in knowing the woman who means more to me than anyone else in the whole wide world is right beside me. All of the memories we have created won’t be created some more on this trip, because she is not with me.
I always feel better after I make that first contact upon landing in a new place. As soon as we land and start our taxi to the gate I will pull out my phone, and break some of the rules by texting home. “The Swallow has landed,” I am likely to write. And that will be Ling’s cue. He’s alright. And I’ll touch base daily like that and the days will melt into weeks and then, usually before I know it, I am home again and we settle back into the rhythm of life together. That is, until it is time to go again. Then, it’s the leaving that hurts.
Tomorrow is January 1, 2009. And the new look of the Swallow's Nest is here! I've been a member of Typepad since March 2006 and for vast stretches of that time I have written here everyday. Now I want you to get into the new look and my new writing style and frequency. I won't be here with new material everyday, but hope to post three times a week. And I won't be sticking purely to theology anymore, although there will still be theological reflections. Look for short stories, pictures, poems, reviews on books, film, music, and art. And look for my usual two-cents worth on daily happenings here in Hong Kong and in my travels. Welcome!
The Swallow's Nest has a new look and it's out with the old and in with the new in more ways than one.
News: Our new niece Claire
Fun: My 35th birthday party
Accomplishment: Completing my first Masters Degree
Exotic excursion: Western China
Moment in a trip: Visiting the National Steinbeck Center
Album: Jamie Scott & The Town
Book: A Fine Balance (Top 10 All-Time Favorite)
Periodical: The Economist
Newspaper: Sunday New York Times
Moment on the Global Scene: Barack Obama’s election as U.S. President
Scripture: Acts 3.1-16
I could go on. But I have decided that will be all. Goodnight, December. And farewell 2008. Tomorrow’s the start of a new day and a new year.
Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood