I'm sure that you've heard of the Freshman 15, which is the well-known phenomenon where a freshman gains 15 pounds during the year. When you've been through as many cycles of education as we have, this can really add up. There is a corollary to this in missionary life: The Furlough 40. And I am coming close to this reality.
Some of you have never met me, but let me admit that I'm not the heftiest guy in the world. And I never have been. Prior to leaving the US, people would often look at me with evident fear that I was undernourished, but this was a purely American phenomenon, and I would try to reassure them that a BMI of 19 may be unusual in America, but it is still within the range of healthy.
Then I moved to Kenya and lost about 10 pounds, slowly over the course of two years. It wasn't dramatic. I didn't have a parasite (that I knew of, though I might have skipped a deworming dose once), nor did I suffer from chronic GI issues (though we know several people who do). And I had all the quantity of food that I wanted. And yet I dropped a few pounds. So did Rachel. Only for me the result was a BMI of 17 and being clinically underweight (a bit) according to the malnutrition charts posted in our outpatient clinic.
For those who don't know me, or can't imagine me losing weight, I'm posting a photo here of me around the time I left Kenya. As you can see, the beard and the hair were getting a bit out of control, as well.
One of our American friends there, when someone told him that all the Kenyans thought I looked like Jesus, famously quipped: "Like Jesus? Maybe Jesus after he'd been fasting 40 days and 40 nights!" Thanks, Jim.
Then I come back to America. I had been warned by John "The Beef" Cropsey that the metabolic effects of returning to the US cannot be underestimated. He purportedly gained 6 pounds during a week in the US for his oral board exams. I guess he ate a lot of Cheesecake Factory.
I don't think I've been doing anything differently, though I have noticed an exceptionally high number of good cooks in my life, recently. And with all our time on the road, we do get to visit with people at restaurants a good bit. And you know, ice cream really is a great food.
The upshot of this is that I have gained about 30 pounds since a year ago. Here is the "after" photo. As you can see, the hair and beard are still the same, but I've bulked up a bit.
What have I learned from this? I guess I've learned that when I eat less meat and very little processed foods (like we did in Kenya) and I walk everywhere I go, I become underweight. So, I'm not really concerned about the unexpected gain now, since I'm pretty much guaranteed to lose it later. I must be the only person to benefit from the American diet. Please don't hate me.