Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Body weight

Every year everyone employed full time here gets a health check at a hospital nearby. I went there in July and the results came back a month later or so. You go to a lot of numbered stations, where they check you height, weight, waist width, hearing, eyesight, etc., and they take blood, urin, x-rays of your chest, and more. In what order you pass throught these different stations varies a bit, so that everyone does not go to the same place at the same time. It takes an hour or so to get everything done.

Chicken nanban teishoku
This year, my last station was the "see an actual doctor and have him squeeze parts of your body and listen to your lungs"-station. Since everything else was finished (except analysis of the blood test/x-ray/things that does not finish the same day), he also checked the paper trail you get from all the tests. So his first statement to me was: "You are fat, but probably not dangerously so"... Before coming here, I had the image of Japan as a place where people were very polite to each other (at least on the surface) and never said things directly (at least not rude things). This is a great misunderstanding. Anyway, he thought I should lose 10 kg.

That is what they told me last year too, and since I had not lost 10 kg, it was not a big surprise to be told this again. When I buy clothes, I do however buy belts in (Japanese) size "S" and use the innermost hole, so if I lose these 10 kg, I am not sure my pants will stay up. Considering my belt size, the "you are fat" part was a little bit harsher than I had expected :-)

In Japan, grown up women think they are fat if they weigh 42 kg (several of my friends think so), and they have never been over 48 kg. Of course, they are shorter than people in Sweden tend to be, but even so that sounded a bit extreme to me at first. I checked with other people if it was perhaps just some of my friends who were nuts, but most Japanese people seemed to agree with my friends on what constitutes being "fat". The rule of thumb for men is "if you cannot see the ripped stomach muscles at a glance, you are fat", I am told.

I almost lost the 10 kg last year (I lost 7 kg or so), but summers are not good for dietting. Returning to Sweden, going to all the summer festivals (which are mainly "let's eat strange food" events), etc. is dangerous. Also, last year I got a gig as a magician in a magic bar in Sapporo during weekends. This is also bad. I tend to eat a big meal before starting, or I would fall down from exhaustion before the 20.00 to 05.00 shift was over. This means more food than normal days, but this is probably compensated by doing magic which is surprisingly tiring. I do tend to eat after working too, though. Which means one more meal per day than usual...

This weekend we had a huge amount of customers on Friday night/Saturday morning so we closed a little bit earlier than normal and went out to eat together. At 3 or 4 in the morning, there is actually a surprisingly large amount of good restaurants open around where I live and around our magic bar. We went to a place I had never been before that was very cheap and looked quite nice. One of the other magicians ordered a set that included "natto" (fermented soy beans, which looks like a smaller version of the alien eggs covered in slime in "Alien"; they also smell bad, taste bad, and stick to everything). He asked me if perhaps I wanted some of his natto (since he knows I do not like natto), but I said I have to lose 10 kg so I am on a diet.

Fried chicken

The others thought that was pretty funny, since I had ordered チキン南蛮, "chicken nanban" (original meaning is something like "chicken in the way of the southern barbarians", and food of type nanban means "prepared with peppers"). Chicken nanban has about a weeks worth of Calories if you are Japanese, so eating that at 4 A.M. is not "being on a diet". It is however delicious. And "chicken in the southern barbarians' style" is a funny name too.

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