Keep Moving Forward


Its been over a month since the detox ended and I went back to the “real world”.

The good news: I managed to keep to my commitment to workout at least 4 times a week (i.e. 20-minute cardio, some arm toning and ‘core’ pilates sessions). I’ve also begun daily weigh-ins as a form of accountability. My weight has stabilized within the 131-133 lbs zone — which I’m very pleased by.

I don’t have a very rigid diet but I have made some dietary changes. I’ve ditched my routine of eating “breads” for breakfast (HK norm) and have taken to eating natural cereals (oatmeal squares, bran, wholewheat oatmeal) with low fat high calcium milk. I’ve cut my caffeine intake to just ONE flask of home-brewed coffee everyday. This is a stark contrast to when I used to have 6-9 cups of instant coffee before lunch just to keep awake.

After school, I have a light dinner mostly fruits, salads and nuts. These are mainly to give me energy for my workout. After the workout, I usually don’t eat anymore but sometimes I’ll drink a little bit of milk chocolate (excellent for recovery). As a result of this routine, I’ve noticed that I no longer take forever to fall asleep. Note: quality sleep is an important component in my health.

Not sleeping = more caffeine = weight gain = anxiety = self hate = weight gain = not sleeping (AKA the vicious cycle).

I knew that I was truly on a roll when one day, one student in my class (an attention seeker who likes to “offend” teachers) called me “fat” and you know what I said?

“Oh honey. I may not be thin but believe me — I’m strong.”

Hong Kong is a society where being “slim” is synonymous to being “fit”. This, of course, is just plain ridiculous. The women here are genetically pre-disposed to being “slim” but many of them are NOT “fit” — i.e. they have no muscle tone, no strength and no stamina whatsoever.

There is a lot of emphasis on “diet” and cutting on food to become “slimmer” but there are very few women that actually workout on a regular basis. Women here want to be “thin” and slim – muscles are masculine and do not fit their ideal of “waif-like” beauty.

I’d always been sensitive to jabs at my “weight” because its only now that I’ve begun to accept that THIS is the body that I’ve been blessed with. This body has boobs, butt and big bones. I was NEVER going to be “slim” by Hong Kong standards.

But since I’ve taken more responsibility over my fitness, my insecurity has begun to fade – steadily being replaced by a very strong sense of pride. THIS is the body that I’ve been working on. It may not be the ideal, but it is mine and I’m proud of it.

The high point of September was when I spoke at  {The Beautiful & the Brave} — an event that called on women to discover God’s idea of beauty and to respond to the call of beauty — to use their God-given beauty to brave the challenges we face — “in such a time (and place) as this”. 

But alas, mountain top experiences never last – they usually follow a harsh descent to the ground below.

I was slammed by flu. Being a teacher, it’s really just a question of “when” rather than “if” I would get the flu. I began to notice a steady decline in my body’s performance during workouts – I knew then that I was getting sick.

October saw Hong Kong in a state of civil uproar as a result of the civil disobedience movement i.e. “Occupy Central” or the “Umbrella Revolution”. But it seemed that physically I was also in a state of civil war. I began coughing a lot – so much so that I lost my voice completely. My two-day “National Day” holiday was spent in bed – eating and sleeping all day – with no workout. My body, once again, began to feel like a prison.

Its now mid-October and I have not recovered. I’ve gone to the Doctor twice. The first gave me regular medicine – which improved but did not eradicate my cough. The symptoms persisted until I was not only coughing but also developed colds and phlegm. Yesterday, my coughing was so violent it made me vomit for the very first time in my adult life. I went to the doctor and got me some antibiotics.

Being sick is part of being a teacher. As a student, you love missing out on school – as a teacher, its really an inconvenience not only for yourself but for other teachers as well. Teachers get sick and we never really get the chance to fully recover. All we can do is to suck it up until the next “holiday” comes.

So here I find myself — unable to workout as I used to, feeling fat, weak and ugly.

Fitness is an uphill battle for me. Not only am I GENETICALLY predisposed towards fat storage, I work in a field where stress is norm. Under stress, some people may lose weight but stress triggers my body to STORE fat rather than lose it. I love my job and I work well under pressure but I hate what it does to my body.

The upside of being at the bottom is that there’s nowhere to go but UP. At least, that’s what I want to tell myself.

I recently began my period – and its alleviated some of my problems. I realised now that I was not only sick with the flu, it was being worsened by my hormones. Now, I feel like my body is mine again. Even though I still have the flu, I don’t feel so bloated anymore. YEY.

Now feeling more optimistic, I decided I’ve done enough moping. I want to end this blogpost by sharing one of my all-time favourite quotes:

silhouette-womanI hope this can encourage someone today.


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