Recently, one of those
mild mellow monsters people I encounter at work asked me, quite innocently, and in front of the others: Are you pregnant?
I have to say I’m amazed at my own reaction. Perhaps this is one milestone I can celebrate in my journey of developing thick skin to deal with such job hazards in the form of innocent but tactless questions.
I put on my straightest unaffected face and answered: How can I be pregnant when I’m not married yet? (I know it’s possible but I have to play the ‘abstinence’ tune in front of such groups of people.)
And without missing a beat, I continued: I’m not pregnant lah, just boncit (what’s the most appropriate translation? ‘Pot-bellied’ seems more appropriate for beer-guzzling ah peks).
And that pretty much shut everyone up and we got back to work. Of course, I later sent a ‘wailing’ Whatsapp message to the mister about how out of shape I am that I got such a question thrown at me.
Standing at less than 1.5m, I have random distant relatives mistaking me for a still-schooling young lady. They think I’m in Secondary 4 and taking my ‘O’ Levels, and during the recent Eid visits one was even amazed that I do what I do (my profession) because according to her I “look like Sec 1 Sec 2”!
Thus, I fall in the petite category (which I have no problem with; I like being petite actually, because people think I’m all gentle and harmless, and then I get to surprise them when I open my mouth. I introduce myself to the new groups of people I meet every year with the Malay saying, kecil-kecil cili padi.) In my teens I used to be petite in the true sense of the word: short and totally small as in skinny. I used to be one of those skinny girls other girls would envy because I could eat anything and everything and never get fat! I was also one of those whom one would say “tak rugi belanja makan buffet” because I loved to eat (still do unfortunately) and boy, could I eat! I had great metabolism to thank back then.
Now, though, you can’t really call me petite anymore. Well perhaps you can, but you would have to add to that ‘curvy’, and by that I mean in the wrong places (for some of those curves at least). I realised the first onslaught of those pesky bits of flesh when I was in my late teens, in junior college. I was the least bit concerned, because as I said, those were ‘bits’. Youthful optimism also brushed all worry aside and attributed their appearance to my long hours being seated and mugging for my ‘A’ levels. Not that I was a very active teen in the first place; I actually hated PE because I didn’t like sweating and had really bad stamina (still do actually). Finishing the 2.4km to just get a measly pass was a mighty great struggle for me. I could never run fast enough nor for long enough; I always got stitches or would get breathless after just a round around the track.
During my university days, commuting back and forth between campus and home in the far east by public transport probably kept the onslaught at bay, as I was forced to go on walks, mostly brisk, up and down the overhead bridge, from bus stops to the train station and vice versa, across the expansive grounds of the campus. After I graduated, the sedentary lifestyle ensued and the bits, slowly but surely, grew into chunks, accelerated by the drop in metabolism as I passed my mid 20s.
So that’s how I got to being mistaken for pregnant. For a time I just lived with the growing spare tyre by hiding it, which I was very good at. I bought L-sized tees from Uniqlo when my built is more for S or M, just so the thick waist wouldn’t show. I have always loved babydoll tops, even more so when they hid my embarrassment while, ahem, accentuating my other more flattering curves. I bought a number of them online, be it the Bangkok ones or from Wetseal or Forever 21, which I wore layered over the tees.
Of course, ignoring the problem means it just got worse. More than just being socially embarrassing, I found myself going into couldn’t-care-less mode, turning to food for comfort. I ate and ate, and I got lazier and got easily tired.
I knew I had to exercise and eat healthier. The latter is easy yet hard; I love healthy food like whole grains and vegetables (I could turn vegetarian with lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, capsicum, greens, mushroom, pasta, bread, wrap) but packing breakfast (and lunch) was something that required too much effort like waking up earlier in the morning. (I am not good with time in the morning. I am not good with time, period.) I do make sure I include vegetables to accompany the rice when buying breakfast from the food stall at work, but as we know refined carbohydrates like white rice are not as healthy as complex ones like wholemeal bread etc. (Why do I eat rice and not something lighter in the morning? Because my workload is most in the morning up til noon, so that’s when I need the most energy. Besides, the only other alternative I would have would be oily, bland fried noodles from the other stall.) As for lunch, the food always runs out by the time I get there and I don’t have much choice save for rice (again) or fried processed stuff like fries and breaded chicken.
As for exercise, it’s always “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have the time” or “I’m too tired” or plain “I want to go but I’m lazy.” Recently it was “my old and mostly disused sports shoes have decided to file for divorce from their sole(mate)s”. (Haha ok lame I know.) Well the last one’s a valid reason, the rest are all excuses. If I want to do something bad enough I would make time for it. It’s not about losing weight (at 45kg I think my BMI is still in the acceptable range, right?), it’s about losing fats. More than just about losing fats to regain visual attractiveness, it’s about losing the visceral fats (fats around your vital organs) and avoiding clogged arteries (if they aren’t already beginning to clog) and keeping ideal blood sugar level so that I won’t be diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes at 35. (My mom has the former, my dad has the latter; I’m not sure at what age they got diagnosed, probably much older than 35 but I suppose my indulgent diet could accelerate things.)
Sometimes all we need is a triggering factor. I scare the shit out of myself when I think about this and that possible diagnosis, but the fear ebbs away. And then, the are-you-pregnant incident happened. And then, today (or rather last night), the mister mentioned that I would need to model the white wedding dress I bought, after getting alterations done, in front of the FMIL to get that one last nod of approval (literal nod now not just virtual ones after seeing photos of the dress worn by the mannequin sent over by email). Although I did mention that the dress fits well except for the length, it did fit a little too well below the bust. If I don’t do something about that spare tyre now, the dress might be axed (which means close to $100 wasted!) or come next December I may not be able to fit into it at all! Or I might still be able to fit into the dress but his relatives may wonder if I’m a pregnant bride. Oh, the horror! No amount of straight face can undo the psychological dent done to their impression about myself and my family. (As usual, I couldn’t care less about what people think, I am caring only because it would affect my parents.)
So! It’s still something as superficial as looking good that is triggering me to take action. But better something superficial now than something serious (and irreversible) later, right? Anway I have always been meaning to start, but now there’s an urgency. Things are on a roll now; I got myself brand new sports shoes last week, in July I got myself those online vouchers for 15 sessions (kickboxing, Zumba etc) at a fitness centre, 5 of which I have made bookings for the month of October (I didn’t redeem earlier because voucher terms state I must use up all 15 sessions within 3 consecutive months, so I held out til after Ramadan and Syawal.)
I’m giving myself two months, October and November to get myself from Little Miss Flab to Little Miss Fab, all toned and trim and fit! By December I’d go send the white wedding dress for alteration, and then, it’s the ultimate fitting session for the queen *cue rolling and rumbling thunder, and flashing lightning*!
PP will get FnF (Pengantin Pelik Fit and Fab!) Tell me I can do it everyone! Tell me if you know some proven-successful tips for tummy trimming too!