Alright. I’m putting it out there – I hate fat shaming. In India, aunties will flat out ask you how much you weigh or comment on the fact that you’ve gained weight / lost weight and it just isn’t considered impolite. So I’ve always had a very matter-of-fact approach to the subject, for better or worse.
Well, here’s the reality check from me, the year before my wedding I was really good about my fitness i.e. I had a personal trainer and met with her 2-3 times per week. I wouldn’t quite say I was practising the art of “clean eating” but that’s just because I’ve never really been a bad-eater. I prefer to eat Indian home cooked meals (aka rice/roti, a meat side and one or two veggie sides) and would only eat processed food/fast food socially. In the three weeks leading up to my wedding I actually paid attention to what my trainer was barking at me re: no sugar and no rice (this is like death for an Asian FYI) and it definitely did make a difference – I’ll admit it! But c’mon people, it is no way to live.
Anyways – I want some scientific genius out there to do a study on this. Every single time in my life where I join a program/change my regular fitness routine for something more intense…and then STOP… I immediately turn to mush and thereafter weigh more than I ever did previously. The year after my wedding (last year of law school) I think I went to the gym once. Or was it that I thought about going to the gym once… not sure. Anyways, it was totally abysmal. But, miraculously, it did take the year to unravel my muscle tone from the pre-wedding year…I was happily married and in a who-cares reality…and the slow muscle tone loss and weight gain went unnoticed by various academic stresses that last year. Well the last exam period especially took its toll on me. Mostly because I was writing an AWFUL paper and the only thing that kept me up late into the night clacking away at my keyboard was the promise of Jalapeno & Cheddar Dorito chips. Yup. I was a Pavlovian dog. Yes I would walk to the 24 hour grocery store at awful hours of the night thinking that fresh air and some more Doritos would finish the next few paragraphs before I slept. I am not proud to admit it but it’s the truth.
I also lived in my sweats for about two months during this period and so never realized my thighs and hips had outgrown my jeans. By the end of that year, I was 15 pounds heavier than I’d ever been before (insert sad face and a self-slap). During my articling year, I essentially fluctuated from losing 5 pounds to gaining a further 5 pounds. And now, lucky me, I am 20 pounds heavier than that pre-wedding number. WHAT? And yes that’s between age 24 and 27… totally uncool self, totally uncool.
My articling year weight gain probably has to do with the fact that I (again) barely visited the gym (in my building…no excuses but watch me come up with 100), moved to downtown Toronto and became a self-proclaimed foodie scarfing down all the food the city had to offer, while clinking glasses of wine with my husband and our friends.
So 2014… I have decided it’s gotta change. Again, I’m not eating terribly and still prefer home cooked meals… but sometimes, with this busy lawyer life, it’s hard to always be organized and plan. I chose a word for the year: BALANCE. In every aspect of my life (i.e. my JOB, my exercise routine, my meal planning, my marriage, my friendship and my faith).
I’ve also realized that I need to stop living like a university student and figure out the habits and routines I’m going to have as an adult-woman… figuring out who I am and what my body likes/dislikes. And also understand my husband’s digestive preferences too. My family mocks the way my sister and I approach food at times. Here’s a story: my family makes amazing Indian beef cutlets… as soon as the main cutlet plate is placed on the dinner table, my sister and I immediately take all the cutlets we are going to eat and put them onto our respective plates . One day my BIL exasperatedly asked why the heck we did that… why did we not just take one from the main plate, move it to onto our own plate, eat it and then go for the next one…yanno, like NORMAL people do. I think I had a lightbulb moment… of a childhood growing up with foodies with big appetites…a childhood where I was an athlete (practically) and could eat whatever the heck I wanted and however much I wanted without gaining a single kilo… a childhood where you took what you wanted to eat for your meal, as if you tried to go back for more later, someone would be snickering at you as the prized item would fo-sho be gone.
They say that understanding is the first step for change. I have tried to approach my meals with less “anxious glee” (yes I’ve trademarked this term). At a party with amazing samosas, my new inner dialogue says: just eat one… you are going to eat SO MANY SAMOSAS over the course of your lifetime so calm your shiz dowwwwn. Just one. Enjoy it!!
To help me on this journey, I’ve also downloaded a few apps (my fitness plan & C25K). I don’t think that calorie counting is the only way to go, but for someone who loves her to-do lists and the little details, it keeps me accountable and plus, they have pie charts, bar graphs AND linear graphs (so even if the chart just says: wow, you’ve been a total pig this week, i feel like i accomplished something (failure can be an accomplishment, shush it)). I’ve also really been enjoying C25K…when I first started this new year by self-yelling: “ONE HOUR, FIVE DAYS A WEEK at the gym – NO EXCUSES” (then blowing an imaginary shrill whistle) I found I would come home, get into my pjs, sit my ass down on the couch and watch endless hours of TV until it was just-too-late to go physically exert myself. With the C25K program, they only ask for 30 minutes, 3 times a week. Tots doable!
While I eventually want to add 2 days of strength training in there (the one thing I took away from my personal trainer)… I’ve learnt the key to climbing this mountain is gonna be baby steps. One foot, then the other and stop staring at the bloody peak in utter dismay. Maybe one day my exercise routine will return to my old 1 hour workouts but for now… 30 minutes a day doesn’t seem impossible. Even on those days when I have to work late, I find I can muster up the energy to run at 10 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. So it works.
Also, I am going to be seeing those Indian aunties this June. So when I feel like crying during those last few minutes of running… I picture their lovely faces smiling down at me and their hands reaching out, thumbs and pointer fingers coming together, squeezing my flabby bits tight… it is so motivating!! :D But this whole communal-living-in-India and how it’s good for ones physical and mental health is a post for another day.
What I really have been trying to say is: Nothing should ever trump your health (and mental sanity) and hopefully that is something I’ll achieve in 2014.
(To all those who have amazing 10 point new year resolution lists, suck it. This is my only resolution. Mainly because I know it’ll make me feel better physically, mentally, fit into jeans again and make me happier when I go shopping and I dream about the day where I am fit enough to eat cake or chips whenever-I-want-to and not think twice about it.)