I don’t like running, but I do it anyway, three times a week. My purpose of keeping up with this regime has nothing to do with health, but looking good. Once, I was fat, so fat that people called me names and made me feel lousy. Even my ballet teacher, Miss Sandra, would single me out as the fat soul of the class: “Oi, Fattie, come here!”

That was six years ago, when I was Primary Two, all plump and full in my tights, and puffier in my tutu. I sure didn’t feel like a little ballerina. All I wanted was for class to end. The median weight for eight-year-old girls is 35 kg, and I was a good 10 percent heavier. At 38kg, I didn’t exactly feel heavy, but I felt like a loser. Why was I scoring 1’s and 2’s in my PE report card, while everyone else was bagging 3’s?

I cared about this, but I also didn’t care. I put this twisted feeling down to one thing: curry chicken. It was giving me the bulge, but I loved curry chicken too much to give it up. So what if I gave up on it? Would I really lose three or four kilograms? Besides, my grandmother and mother didn’t believe in dieting. One must eat to grow tall and healthy. So eat, be nourished, and be happy!

Once, when I was in Primary Four, I stuffed myself silly at a buffet dinner at the Shangri-La. For seafood, I had scallops, oysters, salmon sashimi, tuna, squid; for meat, I had half a ribeye steak, three lamb chops, an entire bowl of braised pork knuckle; and for carbs, I mopped up lots of truffle French fries. After all this, there was hardly any room for dessert, but I went for it anyway: lime ice cream, strawberry and marshmallow kebabs at the chocolate fountain, brie and blue cheese with grapes, and chocolate mousse. I was so stuffed I had to lie down on the banquette. When I got up again, the first thing I said was, “Papa, can I have one more piece of chocolate?”

Image: 9to5 Travel

That was how foolish I was, greedy and stupidly lacking in self control. Today, that self-control is so much better. These days, my buffet strategy is this: pick a little of everything, eat slower, and go for less carbs. Make sure to sit a little longer instead of charging back once I’m done. This way, the guts have time to do their digestive work, and most importantly, I get to reduce the number of visits to the buffet table.

Even my favorite curry chicken doesn’t feature so much in my life anymore, except when Ah Ma forces it down on me. Those heavy McDonald’s big breakfast meals on Saturdays are also a thing of the past, replaced by a more healthful serving of half-boiled egg, oatmeal or cereal, with low-fat milk, and a serving of fruits.

When it comes to exercise, I’m a relatively good girl. Every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, sometimes Monday, you’ll find me on the treadmill, the rightmost TechnoGym or the middle one in my condominium gym, anytime from three to five in the afternoon. Papa doesn’t need to nag me anymore. What’s compelling me to do the smart and right thing is the thought of staying healthy and, most of all, feeling good about myself. Every time I step off the treadmill, there is always a sense of achievement. Physically, I may feel tired, but mentally, I feel charged.

Today, the weighing scale doesn’t tell me I’m overweight. At 52 kg, I’m not. But still, I think I’m fat. That’s why I’m planning to do much more. Next up: hip hop classes and cheerleading. Let’s hope 52 would soon become 50.

(639 words)

Lim Zhi Yi, Secondary Two
June 2015

For more essays by Zhi Yi, visit: Zhi Yi Writes

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