So anyway, I lost a lot of weight.
It was far from easy, and at times I thought I was going to die as I lay there scarlet and gasping on the floor, with Jillian Michaels yelling at me to get up and do static lunges with hand weights, but I did it. I did it! The first month was the hardest, but then as I was about to give up, people started to notice. The comments and compliments spurred me on. Every time I went out, more than one person asked if I’d lost more weight, told me I was looking good, asked me how I was doing it. If someone hadn’t seen me for a few months, they did a double take. It was a massive self-confidence booster, and my main incentive for keeping at it even on those evenings when the thought of exercising after a rough day at work made me want to hide under the table with a family pack of Doritos and a bottle of soju. I don’t want to stop hearing nice things about myself – who would?! So here I am… working for it.
To my great amazement, despite not exercising throughout my almost month-long holiday, and despite eating half the crisps and sausage rolls in all of Northern Ireland, I did not gain weight while I was there. In fact, astonishingly, I seem to have shrunk further! I do not know how this is possible, but I’m not complaining. Maybe it’s just that I bought smaller clothes while I was home (TWO WHOLE SIZES smaller – I confess I wept a little with sheer joy in the fitting room). Or that the food there just did not agree with me after my super-healthy and mainly Korean diet, so my main meals were mostly left half-eaten. Or that my body was grateful for the break from Jillian and decided to reward me. Whatever. I didn’t suddenly get fatter again, as I had feared I would.
Now, however, with some reluctance, I’ve had to choose not to chance it any more, and get back into my routine. I have a long way still to go before I can say I’m at my ideal weight! And so I am once again flinging myself around my room with a great deal of sweat and gasping… cooking healthy meals… thanking the school cooking lady, who is now on board with the whole thing and serving me a very small portion of rice each day without looking offended…
In the midst of all this, I hit a bump in the road in my personal life, which would at one time have sent me to the shops for a weekend’s supply of vodka, crisps, pasta, hotdogs, cheese, etc. A wee touch of heartbreak, and food was my immediate go-to, consumed while drinking myself into a stupor in a darkened, locked room.
This time, I spent only a few hours crying on a friend’s shoulder, then put on some nice new clothes and make-up, and went out dancing with my friends and had fun. Instead of locking myself away and feeling sorry for myself, I’ve kept busy, gone out for lunches and dinners, exercised, played board games in coffee shops, chatted for hours on Kakao. Personal growth, I feel. As my body has been shrinking, I have apparently been growing. And honestly, it’s made a huge difference to my attitude and mood. I haven’t even fallen back into the bitter “men are bastards” camp, since one of the friends, who has proved to be my biggest encourager through the afore-mentioned bumpy section, is indeed a man. There are some good ones… just not the ones I fall for.
After the initial sobbing and hugs, followed by several pep talks, “hold-your-head-high-and-dance-with-me” waltzing at the Local, and admittedly quite a lot of vodka, he brought me to the park last night for a workout session to give me variety in my exercise regime – and company in my week. Having expected a brutal, boot camp-style drill sergeant approach with yelling and screaming and insults, I was pleasantly surprised to find him patient and as encouraging as ever. I ran carrying a small barrel of water, I did squats and jumps and twists, I hung from and pushed up on exercise bars, I jogged while he subtly dropped his pace so we stayed level.
I won’t say I enjoy this whole exercise caper. I would so much rather be eating crisps and watching TV. But I do love the buzz I feel when it’s over – and of course the results when I keep at it. I am no longer the self-conscious, comfort-eating girl who hides at the back of the room or bases her self-worth on one man’s view. Changing my lifestyle has not been easy, but it’s been worth it… because now, at last, I feel I’m worth it. Worth taking care of myself. Worth talking to. Worth spending time with. I don’t see myself as some dull, ugly, stupid, fat girl any more. Even though I’m far from slim and glamorous, I have enough confidence to hold my head up and see, for the first time, that that’s not important, and that I’m somebody worth knowing. If someone else doesn’t see it, or disagrees, well, screw him.
Shrinking… but more importantly, growing.
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