Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Chained Prometheus




Those who know me personally have been witnesses, during the last 9 months, to a transformation that I've been suffering, both physically and mentally. During the same time that the body of a woman takes to generate new life, I was able to build for me a renewed present and, above all, a promising future. It all began when, on the day of my 20th birthday (6th of May, 2011), I decided to become a vegetarian.

It was not a completely spontaneous and unexpected decision, but almost. In fact, if I had already thought many times about that, I never considered it to be a real prospect, but instead an alternative reality in which I didn't eat both meat nor fish. It may be worth mentioning the fact that food had always been one of the most important things to me and, maybe as a proof of that, I had 101,3 kg (222 lbs) at the time. For almost everyone, my decision came as a shock. For a very restrict group, it was a pleasant surprise. And, for others, it was the beginning of a game of bets, trying to guess the length of my vegetarianism (some predicted a week, other, more optimists, a month) - no one seemed to have much hope in me, and, looking back, I can say that maybe even I was skeptical about myself.

From May to July, there I was, joyful, eating a lot of italian Pasta, without meat nor fish. I never payed much attention to my weight, but, around the end of July, I thought that I should see how much I had, at least to see if my vegetarian diet had any positive effect. Of course, when one has too many carbs and doesn't practice any exercise, the calories have to go somewhere, and there was no denying that: I had gained weight, and was now with 102,8 kg (224 lbs). So, if I, Miguel, had been able to say no to meat and fish, two great passions of my life, it was also time to say no to another aspect of me: my awful physical condition. And so, from one day to the other, I changed my lifestyle. I transformed my diet (started to eat huge amounts of Soya, Tofu and Seitan, and, of course, vegetables and fruit - and I also said arrivederci to pasta!), and I started to workout.

I can say that I'm very proud of my dedication. In the hellish heat of Algarve (southernmost region of Portugal) during August, I went running outside, and at home I did abdominal crunches, weights and planking. Sometimes, this would go on for 2 to 3 hours, without any break-time, and without eating anything for the duration - only a lot of water (I'm aware that this was too extreme and even dangerous for me, but well, I survived and came out stronger than ever before). My days would start with exercise, immediately on the morning, and I counted every single calorie that went into my body. If during the first 15 days there were no visible results, and I started to get demoralized, it seems that my body then came into action, and my weight started "evaporating" to the point of making me think if my weighing-machine was functioning properly.

In the beginning of September, I was already with 89 kg (195,8 lbs). Surely, I was no model for the human physique, but for me, this meant already less 13 kg (28,6 lbs). And, even with the beginning of one more university year after summer vacations, my progress was maintained. Even during Christmas, when I ate huge amounts of cakes and stuff, I kept doing my workouts, and I even lost weight.

Today, while I'm writing this post, I have 76 kg (167,2 lbs). If we consider the fact that I am 1,74 m (5' 8,5" ft) tall, there is still a road ahead of me before I get to the ideal weight, an objective which I'm absolutely convinced I will be able to meet soon. But, during these last few months, it was not only my body that suffered tremendous changes: I transformed as a human being. I'm more confident, secure, and, above all, I feel free. It is as if I was being kept chained by my body, like some sort of punishment - I felt like the Prometheus in Greek Mythology.

But today is also the date of a new change: my return to the omnivorous condition - and, I can say, I'm more omnithan ever before, as I learned to enjoy a lot of new stuff. There were various reasons for me to become a vegetarian, something worth of a post per si, and now there are many others for me to eat fish and meat again; I can only say that the main one is that I felt like I was despising one of the great pleasures of life, which is gastronomy. Not that I don't like vegetarian food, because I love it, but because I also love fish and meat. 

Maybe I should feel defeated, but I don't. I remained, for 9 months and a half, vegetarian, and I'm not sorry for that - not even a little. If for nothing else, being a vegetarian showed me that I had enough force of will to cause a great rupture in my life, and to go up another stair. Now, I'm not getting down on the staircase, but rather I'm still going up. And I should also note that I'm not going to start to eat meat 14 times per week! Soya and Seitan will forever be an important part of my diet, because I love them. I will be a  true omnivorous - when I want something, I can eat it, as long as it is in a healthy portion. I feel no guilt, and that is the most important thing. Who knows, maybe one day I'll try again to be a vegetarian? Like the winds, I am also capable of fast and unexpected changes; those who know me, know very well that I'm a little box full of surprises. 

Above all, I can tell you one thing: the moment in which we start to believe in ourselves, is the moment in which we come face to face with the infinitude of the universe. True story.

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