The Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali once said, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee…”
In my case, “it was floated pathetically like a bee…” THIS. BEE.
Seriously speaking, I always knew that starting to get healthy is not a walk in the park. I have wasted a lot of years reveling in my sedentary lifestyle – too stressed, too busy and too broke to start a fitness regimen.
However, the bitter pill of being overweight is not something that can be ignored. Especially when I suffer from PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which was one of the off-shoots of being overweight. Other health issues are also mounting: Breathing became hard when doing physical activities, I easily get tired and my knees are killing me. I tended to dread Annual Physical Examinations because I always hear the same thing from my doctors – the blood sugar is elevated, there’s too many carbs in my body and yes, I need to lose weight if I wanted the PCOS to go away.
Further adding to misery is the hassle of buying clothes. My friends know that I can be really picky when it comes to the things I wear. I am all for style, but I also can’t resist a good bargain. Thing is, local brands tend to carry small sizes, you’re lucky if you can find an XL that fitted really well. Since my ass can rival that of the Kardashians’ – looking for jeans can be a hassle.
Let’s not even get started on the style. Even before, I noticed how local plus sized clothing can be frustrating for those who wanted a bit of style in their clothes. If it’s not the God-forsaken color-blocking pattern which can make anyone look like a glorified chess board, it’s a whole lot of animal patterns (cheetah, tiger, zebra, you name it!) I always end up buying from Marks & Spencer, Forever 21 and H&M who carries European sizes. For someone who doesn’t have a secret stash of unlimited cash somewhere, this is a big hassle and a pain in the pocket.
Lastly, being overweight, especially in the Philippines, is not exactly good to your self-esteem. People can be really cruel and insensitive. Classmates and colleagues from ten years back will not greet you hello, but the standard, “ay bakit ang taba mo na?! (why have you gotten fat?)”To some, to laugh about your expanding girth is not considered offensive but just “part of the joke,” a means to toy with you or simply part of the conversation. If you’re heavier than the usual, you have to have guts of steel – not to digest the food you eat, but basically to keep yourself sane from people who seemed to find offense in being heavy. You have to have a good comeback, a witty, sarcastic personality or be really funny to survive.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t the off-center jokes, the usually shopping bill that got to me. It was the need to get healthy. I became tired of being lazy – heavily dependent on the laptop and the smart phone, while Chromecasting my way to early death. I knew that if I wanted to see positive change in myself, I needed to start on the physical.
So, I enrolled into a boxing gym, started eating healthy (eschewing cake and pastries which was like death to me) and started guzzling massive amounts of water.
First day at the boxing gym was tough. While I never entertained notions of going all “Girlfight” on my first day, I also didn’t anticipate that I’ll be the lamest person in attendance. I go to Empire Boxing Gym in Makati where they have good trainers and coaches, and maintained a “no-bully, no-judgement environment” but being around people who box like a long-lost Pacquiao sparring partner can be jarring. Especially if you’re that someone who looks like a munchkin armed with a borrowed boxing gloves.
However, what I lack in physical strength, I more than make up for in determination. I might be taking a long time finishing my reps, but I tell you – I will finish it. I may take a long time doing burpees – but I will finish it. I may look like I was punching on nothing but air – but I will throw my best straights and lefts, so help me God. Given that I was on my first day, I went home with all parts of my body screaming for mercy. And you know what? I cannot wait to go back.
I am also thankful for people who had my best interest at heart. A good doctor friend reached out to me and – via Facebook messenger – gave me tips on how I can lead a healthier lifestyle and do physical activities even when I am not going to the gym:
- Keep hydrated and drink 8 glasses of water
- Always eat a good, sizable breakfast but stay away from carbs during dinner
- Choose fruits and vegetables as much as you can
- As much as possible, and if you can, walk. Aim for 10,000 steps everyday
- Don’t sit the whole day. If you are working, try to designate times when you are standing. I recently started doing this. After lunch, I work standing — I propped my laptop on an old box so my posture won’t suffer. Fidget as much as you can.
I know it’s tempting to revert to the old lifestyle – and honestly, I allow myself to be lazy during weekends. But at the end of the day, my determination and my will to live a longer life, a healthier life so I could enjoy the fruits of my labor secedes any lingering pangs of “wanting to just be lazy.”
I will never have the body I had when I was 23, but I can always have the better version of me.
Wish me luck on my wellness journey 🙂 I really needed it.