Friday, 21 August 2009

Me and my...Body

I was an obese child, oh yes, I was. Memories of my childhood include:

  • Having moobs (or should it be bboobs, because moobs = man boobs and I had boy boobs?)
  • My inner thighs rubbing against each other when I walked, resulting in my polyester school shorts making a "shrsh shrsh" sound as said rubbing caused friction and not an insignificant amount of static.
  • Being singled out as one of two children in the entire primary school during our annual health check to go to the Ministry of Health for dietary advice.
  • Doing star jumps at said Ministry of Health as some nurse demonstrated the technique.
  • Being forced to join The Fat Club (yes, that was the official name) at secondary school (aged 13) and do a weigh-in-cum-skipping session after school every Wednesday.
  • Buying diet pills from ads in the National Enquirer.
  • Buying every sort of diet pill in the health shop (this was pre-internet).
  • Buying and wearing a corset that promised to hold everything in and "sweat out the fat".
I was a skinny child till I turned 5 or 6. whereupon my serious asthma problems abated. And the appetite that was suppressed due to illness returned with a vengeance. I remember having breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, pre-dinner (where I would sneak out and get a bowl of noodles) and then dinner at home. Sometimes even supper if one of my relatives dropped in. No meal ever went away unloved.

I think mother was terrfied with the Ministry of Health business; and even more so when her friend said I could die of a heart attack in adulthood. Overnight, the entire family's diet changed. Out went fried anything, and instead it was this soup and steamed that. My mindset changed as well - being a teenager (and a gay one at that!) with all its attendant insecurities and vanities made me determined to do something.

It was as if a switch had been flipped and finding the motivation from god-knows-where, I started running every evening and swimming 2 or 3 times a week. And without even realising it, the weight gradually dropped off. I recall the day my friend said to me how I looked kind of weird because my waist was so small and my thighs so chunky (from the running). I looked, really looked, into the mirror and oh, my giddy aunt, I realised he was right.

However the battle is constant and my natural tendency is to put on weight. I am forever vigilant and whilst I am not obssessive about calories (and thankfully, I don't have a sweet tooth), I keep a close eye on food intake.

Now in my adulthood, I know I can scrub up well to impress. However sometimes there is a jarring discord between the image in my mind's eye and reality. Logically I know I look ok, but on a fat day, I see a really fat kid with squishy thighs.

About 3 years ago, I joined a gym for the first time and with all guns blazing, I worked out 5 times a week - an hour of weights followed by 30 minutes of cardio. And for the first time in my life, I had a six pack. I didn't even realise this till I saw them in a photo. I would also get comments on how big my arms were but all I could see in the mirror were twigs. Maybe it's a mild form of body dysmorphia.

After about a year of working out, I opened my eyes on a Wednesday morning and thought, "I can't do this anymore." I didn't work out for about a year after that. Crashed and burnt.

The lessons I learnt during that period was that whilst diet was important, for me, exercise was the key to attaining and maintaining optimum condition. I didn't have to worry too much about what I ate because it got burnt up; I looked bettter, I felt better. But more importantly, I realised that exercise in moderation was the only way to bring balance. Burning out and losing motivation really lay me low for some considerable time.

Now, I cycle to work every day. This is my cardio workout and there is no excuse not to do it (having said that I've yet to see how I cope in the Winter!). My mantra when going up the one punishing hill on the way home is, "INCINERATE THAT FAT!" as I pedal furiously.

I also have 2 Bowflex dumbbells. These are brilliant and whilst at almost £300, it's not the cheapest equipment, I no longer shell out £40ish a month on gym membership. So I consider them a great investment. With a click you can adjust the weight from 2kg to 21 kg. No fuss, no muss.

I got mine from Amazon: Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells

Now, I think I'm achieving that balance between a healthy body and the urge to eat an entire bucket of KFC (whoever proposed "bucket" as an acceptable name for a food receptacle is bordering on the threshold of insanity and genius). I'm easier on myself and kinder to that fat boy that lurks inside.


  1. I feel this fat problem is a bigger issue. Even my mom is fat and wants to reduce her weight but, I really feel for her. Though she tried so many methods, still she is the same. Hope you can help her out if you got some tips.

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  2. Unfortunately for all the hype and hoopla about lunchtime liposuction and the next wonder fat burning pill, the equation still remains the same. Burn more calories than you consume = fat loss.

    I think the trick is to enjoy the process. Now that I'm cycling to work, I don't even view it as exercise. It's my commute to work. But I'm not only doing a great cardio workout, I'm also saving a ton on public transport.

    Diet is key. We know about what not to eat; but consider the hidden calories - the dressing in the salad; the sauce in the pasta; the sugar in the coffee. They all add up really quickly.

    I hope to write more about what works for me.