It’s the day I was in my yoga class, stretching, as I heard two women in their mid-40s, early 50s, say “I must have gained 2 kilos or something. Horrible!” that I realized it.
I realized that no matter how much I starve myself, how much I exercise, how much I sigh at awesome Hollywood bodies and despair at what I think is my, tiny and cute , yet undesirable and ‘I could do without you’ muffin top, I will never escape from this perpetual self-torturing cycle that is my obsession with my body.
I thought when I would get into my 40s or 50s, “I need to lose some weight” would be the one thing out from my daily comments, because, oh, I don’t know, I would have more ‘important’ things to care of and to worry about.
I think that’s when I decided, that I would care less about losing weight and more about being and staying healthy. Although to be honest, I wouldn’t mind dropping a few kilos from my current weight, I’m not as obsessed with it as I used to be once.
Sure, as many girls do, I was always conscious that ‘losing weight’, no matter how much you actually weight, was something I had to do, somehow.
But I only got seriously into it around 2008-2009, when people at work would blatantly tell me, in my face, that losing a few kilos here and there wouldn’t hurt me (this is my ‘mild’ version of their words). I exercised regularly, twice a day, during my hour-long lunch break and after work, with barely a boiled egg or rice the size of half a fist for lunch and 250ml of fat-free milk for dinner. I would go to have drinks with my co-workers, and have no food whatsoever, which would often lead to a disgusting session of throwing up all the alcohol intake some time in the middle (and the crazy amount of alcohol I was drinking then probably didn’t help much either). And sure enough, I did lose weight, about 5 kilos in two weeks, and I’m not going to lie, it felt good. It felt good to have people compliment me on how greater I looked with all the weight loss every time they saw me (also making me wonder if I indeed looked like some pig before). It felt good to wear short skirts I had never thought would ever be part of my closet. Although I was still far from being considered as ‘thin’ or ‘slender’ or even ‘average size’ from a Korean perspective, I could at least breathe easily while trying on the ‘largest size’ at the department store.
But one can’t survive on such a diet for a long time.
No, one could survive, sure, but one can’t live. And living is about the little pleasures, like having a vanilla latte instead of sugarless black coffee, having a piece of cheesecake just because you feel like one, perhaps with whipped cream (*gasp*), going straight home without feeling the pressure of your daily exercise at the gym, or enjoying a good drinking time with friends with a full stomach on chicken wings and without the urge to throw up after a couple of hours.
I am proud of what I achieved back then, if only just to acknowledge my will power for not eating as much as I wanted to (and man can I eat and do I love eating). But it’s something I will never do again, for various reasons. Mostly, I know I can’t have that same strength and determination. But I also don’t see the reason for such determination, unless it’s because I want to turn into an even grumpier person than I can often be now.
I exercise fairly regularly these days, doing an hour-long yoga nearly everyday or jogging, if only for the separate two 10-minute ‘slow run’ my poor lungs would allow me (for now, at least). But I don’t obsess over exercising EVERY SINGLE day. I can have my week-end off. But most importantly, I exercise because I want to stay healthy, and because, and I never knew I would say this, no matter the hell you go through every time you try to decide between sweating for an hour and lounging for an hour, it does feel good when you actually choose the first option. Even now I still spend at least five minutes looking at my yoga mat or my sneakers before finally doing ‘the right thing’. But I eventually decide to do it because I know I will feel good, not because I know I will lose a few grams here and there, or because, if I keep doing this, just maybe, I might just have the perfect body. Sure, if I did lose a few kilos in the process, I won’t mourn the loss. But even if I didn’t and stayed the way I am now, kind of in between the pre-2008 state and the post-2008 crazy starving/exercising period, it won’t be the end of the world.
I am more at ease (not completely) with my body, so I can go have some of these once in a while, just because I feel like it, and not as a reward I give myself for my three-month long starvation frenzy.
I’m not saying that trying to be thin is a bad thing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like this?
I’m much against obesity, but not for aesthetic reason, rather for health reason. You’re obviously more prone to diseases and heart attacks when you’re obese, and it’s just not good for yourself, and not fair for your loved ones you will leave behind if you die at a young age. But, as women, we have to understand there’s a middle ground between Miranda Kerr and being obese. It’s not ‘our job’ to have the perfect so called Hollywood body. There’s a reason it’s called ‘Hollywood body’. As far as I know, many of us who are constantly worrying about our weight are not in Hollywood. So let’s get over it. We can still be happy being healthy albeit not looking like a typical Hollywood goddess.
I know, the social pressure is sometimes immense. Believe me, as a girl living in Korea, I KNOW. I personally like to believe I will never look like what some (most?) Korean girls look like, even if I starve to death because… my bones just can’t allow that much thinness. But it’s still upsetting to know that you always have to ask for the ‘biggest size’ at the department store (thank god for H&M, Zara and Forever 21 in Korea, finally!). It’s still frustrating to have employees tell you that the best trait of this dress is that it hides your curves (I HAVE curves woman, and I WANT to show them!).
Nevertheless, all of this noise others are making shouldn’t you make you depressed because you think you’re fat (or rather, because others see you as fat), or even worse, go through extreme and dangerous surgical measures as having a plastic patch sewn on your tongue (this article was what originally propelled me into writing this post).
What matters is that YOU feel healthy and comfortable, and maintain your dignity as a beautiful human being inside. And the recipe for that is simple.
Have some vegetables here and now, eat healthy, but it’s OK to have a delicious chocolate mousse if you want to.
Exercise regularly, but remember, you’re not a professional athlete, and it’s OK if once in a while, you think staying at home watching a romantic comedy with Pringles and Ryan Reynolds would do you more good than jogging breathlessly for 30 minutes. (Ryan Reynolds will ALWAYS set things right, no matter what.)
If you think that the fact that walking up ten steps makes you breathe like you just climbed the Everest might just be a hint of how unhealthy you are, then, perhaps, you should take a rain check on that double cheese, double bacon burger for now and go for a walk. Complaining about having to lose weight to your friends at a buffet won’t do you or your friends any good.
Just because the Hollywood Entertainment channel goes through the list of the best beach bodies of the year, it doesn’t mean you have to make the list as well.
Let’s stop tormenting ourselves. After all, you already have YOUR beach body.