I just returned to Hong Kong after a six week vacation in my home country, America. Land of the free, home of the brave, the place where morbidly obese children labor and toil to raise the Chicken McNugget to their quivering lips, special sauce smeared across their pudgy, sweaty faces.

It’s been great to see old friends and family. New York, Virginia, Chicago, Texas, Las Vegas–I’ve trained, planed and automobiled all over the place. Unfortunately, I’ve also dined in all but the Mountain Time zone. And let me tell you, even a vegetarian can pack on the pounds in America.

I blame my heritage. I’m of Mexican descent so that means margaritas. It’s mother’s milk to us. And while those godsends of lime and tequila aren’t inherently bad for you fat wise (don’t give me any of that Weight Watchers points bullshit), what you eat with them is. In Texas, they give you a basket of chips and a side of salsa for free, refills too. And your cheese enchiladas arrive piled high, a coronary on a plate. If only Karen Carpenter had lived in San Antonio, she’d be alive today. Yeah, she’d probably look like Mama Cass, but we’d just prop her up in front of the microphone, lure her on stage with a chimichanga.

In New York, I hit my three favorite restaurants, my personal culinary trifecta: Malatesta for Italian, La Palapa for Mexican, and Union Square Cafe for American fine dining–do yourself a favor and order the not on menu black bean soup with sherry and lemon, you’ll feel like an in-the-know snob, but will be rewarded when that bowl of blackened heaven arrives.

In Chicago, I hit Adobe Grill for Mexican and my favorite steakhouse, Gibsons, for dinner. You might be wondering why a vegetarian would go to Gibson’s. I wasn’t a vegetarian when I lived in Chicago and Gibsons had (has) the best fillet mignon on the planet and–and this is most important–they make a mean martini. I’m talking ice crystals in the vodka, the lemon rind straddling the rim of the glass in ecstasy mean. Plus, my partner and best friend in Chicago had never been. I ate a baked potato.

In Vegas, I sobered up with Italian. Bread, pizza, pasta, I might as well have injected the dough straight into my belly. One healthy bright spot was the signature salad at Spago’s in Caesar’s Palace. That crunchy concoction of greens minus any lettuce was a real find. In fact, I’m going to try to recreate it at home.

I turn 38 in just over a month, so I have that time to Master Cleanse my ass back into shape. I’m going vegan for the next couple of weeks (it leans you up, try it and see). And I’m going back to running 25 miles a week. I’m monitoring my food intake and am craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as I type. But you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to drag my jet-lagged ass down to the gym. It’s not vanity, Babies. It’s insecurity. Besides, I’m gay, if I don’t maintain college weight, they take away my membership card.

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