Working at home and basically having my back side literally glued to the computer chair for more than eighteen hours a day is not only detrimental to my sanity, but it also makes those little figures on the scale increase rapidly. Of course, the word “little” here is relative—and so is “sanity.” It has come to a point where I have to cheerily greet, praise loudly, and then apologize to the weighing scale before I get on it, hoping that the machine would reciprocate my effusive demeanor by shaving off one, two, or preferably 150 pounds. After weeks and weeks of doing this and getting nothing but an escalating series of results, I have come to one conclusion: the darn thing was broken.
Then my clothes started getting tight again. Certain pieces of undergarments began to pop at the seams. I was glad enough to blame the shrinkage on the new laundry soap I was using.
It took a total stranger to finally make me realize that I was gaining weight and fast. As I boarded a plane bound home to Davao, the airline clerk processing my ticket asked me, “Ma’am, how many months are you pregnant?” Gah!
I did a double take and babbled something about not sustaining a new life form in my ample midsection, other than a possible infestation of intestinal bacteria. I was so flustered that I think I even went on saying something like I’m not a viable candidate for immaculate conception—or something to that effect. I remember vaguely that I did make a reference to not harboring an alien embryo in my internal organs. At one point of that conversation, I must have blacked out because I don’t remember how I made my exit. But I do remember a brief moment when the clerk gave me the evil eye. I think she was about a second away from asking if I was suffering from any form of mental disorder, and whether or not I should be out in public at all.
Anyway, I decided to exercise lose weight. And by “exercise” I mean doing more than shuffling back and forth to the bathroom and the computer room while trying to stay awake in between. With my work schedule though, I found this rather difficult to do. But I did manage to lose a couple of pounds here and there. Of course, the word “lose” is relative here and so are the words “a couple of pounds.”
For my first exercise, I went online. I thought I would need a lot of guidance in the workout department because frankly, I didn’t know any exercise regimen other than swimming and brisk walking.
Swimming was out of the question, of course. The only body of water within my immediate vicinity was a creek, which had a very rocky bed and water that was only a foot deep. Besides, the only people I ever see near the water are kids trying to catch toads.
Unfortunately, the only piece of swimsuit I currently own is colored dark green with spots of black and yellow. It thought it looked cute when I first bought it. But if I wore that and started doing breast strokes in the shallow creek, those kids might think I’m the biggest toad in the world. Or worse, I would be the biggest pregnant toad in the world. No, worse still: they might actually try to catch me and haul me back to the airline clerk so that she could give me the evil eye again.
I searched the web for exercise regimens I could try. I downloaded a few exercise videos that I found too tiring to watch. At the end of the day, I was so beat I ended up sleeping instead—right there in front of the computer.
For your information, I did try out a few of those exercises, particularly the belly dancing workout. I reasoned, since I have more belly than was necessary, I might as well go for a bit of tummy jiggling. Unfortunately, the two ladies teaching the dance moves apparently had muscles that I never knew existed. When they said to “move only your right hip, gracefully up, down, up, down,” they did this dainty movement that yes, moved only their right slender hips.
When I tried doing the same, I had to move my entire right side. My hip wasn’t cooperating, so all the muscles from the right side of my face, down my shoulder and to my right calf had to pick up the slack. I certainly wouldn’t call my movements as “graceful.” I think it was more in the vicinity of “self induced muscular spasm while being electrocuted at irregular intervals.” At the end of one session, I was suffering from a full body twitch similar to a toad on drugs.
After twitching indefinitely, I decided to give up on those darn video exercises and do brisk walking instead. This means that I actually had to set a particular time of the day to go out and walk anywhere but my apartment’s interior. I decided early morning—like crack of dawn early morning would be best. So I put on my walking shoes and headed out. Now, this yielded better results.
For one thing, I discovered that I could actually walk faster, get my heart really pumping and sweat a lot if there was a pack of street dogs literally hounding my every step. But I think the sweating part came more from the fear of being mauled by mangy canines than the actual workout.
Secondly, I get to meet a lot of interesting people, so to speak. On the fourth day of brisk walking around town, I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw several pinpricks of lights in the distance, eerily floating toward me. Then I heard human voices mumbling in a singsong manner. If it weren’t for the pack of dogs at my heels, I would have made it all the way back to my apartment in two seconds flat. You could have probably timed it too, since I would be screaming at the top of my lungs all the while.
It turns out that a group of ladies were holding a dawn rosary procession. I stood by the side of the road to let them pass. After a few minutes, I simply had to go home. I can assure you: nothing can give you a full body twitch complete with heart palpitations and severe exhaustion than the thought of meeting ghosts on a darkened street.
There was also this very “interesting” guy from my neighborhood. During my early morning walks, I have encountered him several times drunkenly and loudly (but very happily so, with much laughing and hugging) talking to the wooden electrical poles at the side of the road. Since I’m not really into such encounters, I’ve tried to avoid contact with him. I choose different routes every time, but he seems to pop up everywhere I go.
One time, I was heading back home after brisk walking with the darn dogs, when I saw Mr. Happy talking to the electrical pole that was nearest my apartment. He saw me and waved, then started weaving towards me with arms flopping everywhere and a happy, inebriated face. Naturally enough, I tried weaving away from him, which was fairly easy to do if you have mangy mongrels dogging your every step.
When he was only a couple of feet away, he started talking to me. I could not understand a word he was saying, but he was laughing all the time so I figured he was saying something positive. Besides, I was too preoccupied to listen. I was trying to keep the dogs between him and me, just in case.
Unfortunately, Mr. Happy was determined to carry a conversation with me, and I could not walk to my apartment because I was afraid of him camping right outside my door. So I walked away in another direction, with the dogs and Mr. Happy several steps behind me.
After that, I decided that I really, really need to lose weight. If there’s anything worse than being mistaken as pregnant (when I’m not,) or as a toad in the creek, or as dog chow for mangy mongrels, it’s being mistaken for an electrical pole. But maybe walking around town is not for me. I’m now thinking of going to the airport and doing my exercises there. I’m now steeling myself not to have any form of self-induced muscular spasm when the airline clerk gives me the evil eye.
Rowena Rose Lee is a regular contributor to this page.