Manuel: "Yeah, I must have lost many kilos since being in China! Yesterday [the resident Polish girl] came up to me and said to me, 'Manuel! What's going on? You look like you're falling apart!'"
This immediately clicks on my obsessive motherly-girlfriend instincts. What's wrong with Manuel? He's an active, healthy, food-loving boy. He's a lot stronger than he looks, in fact much stronger than most of our counterparts in Kunming. Why the sudden, unexplained weight loss? A quick look on the Mayo Clinic website suggests the following possibilities:
1. Overactive thyroid (from a sudden hormonal imbalance caused by too much Qingdao and BeerLao?)
2. Liver disease (from getting too friendly with Qingdao and BeerLao)
3. Depression (from pining after his beloved girlfriend and drowning his sorrows in Qingdao and BeerLao)
4. Malabsorption disorders (from a faulty stomach, courtesy of Qingdao and BeerLao)
5. TAPEWORM (bad Sino-Laotian water used as the base of Qingdao and BeerLao)
Joe, ever the helpful, charismatic grad student, also suggests seasonal affective disorder. Manuel might, in fact, be SAD. Thanks Joe.
I'm not one to overthink things. Okay, maybe I am. But in all likelihood, he's probably just got an abnormally revved-up metabolism from his abnormally high amount of exercise. The man runs for 2 hours on average every time he hits the pavement; damn those long, long legs and marathon-running aspirations! Marathon runners tend to have a primed metabolism; it's like having your cells in their "ON" state by default, regardless of the presence of food in your system. And as standard Kunming fare doesn't have many calories to begin with, it's a lot harder for him to stuff his daily requirement into his stomach to keep himself from thinning out. This is also true for bodybuilders, who have to constantly ingest around protein shakes and cottage cheese to maintain their calorie-consuming muscles.
But Manuel is losing muscle. A lot of muscle. And I don't think he's taking it as seriously as he should; he looks like he just survived a famine.