Metropole Magazine

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07 Jan

A working mother's dieting and exercise journey

Here we go again. Another day at the gym. Barely have I made it after an exhausting morning running after cranky toddlers, arguing with belligerent teenagers, trying (and failing…) to concentrate on my morning prayer. Trying to stay sane. I am already exhausted, and my day has hardly started.

Beside me on the next treadmill as I huff and puff, stands my arch-nemesis. A skinny older woman with more children than I (who by the way, are perfectly cute with clean cute clothes as my daughter Nnelly would say, and also…really, this is true…win all the Star prize awards). How does she make it look so easy? She is looking very put together. She is wearing a matching hot pink jersey and trouser combo with clean socks. I instinctively pull my ‘jump up’ trousers down and try to hide the fact that I haven’t washed my socks in maybe, ummm…two months. Although she is taking a 6 mile jog, her iPod is in her ears, hair is neatly pulled back in a pony tail and clearly not smelling of either cooking oil or stale coffee.

All my life, I have always wanted to be 2 sizes smaller, 4 inches taller and just well …pulled together. So began my fitness quest.

All together, I am sure that I have jogged from the end of the world and back. I have done every diet in the book, from Atkins to cabbage soup, to South Beach, to Maple Syrup to Berry Cleanse…name it, I have tried it! Everything I eat seems to love me, and does not let go. Each year, the shops seem to be cutting sizes smaller and smaller. As I lie on my bed struggling to pull up my jeans of five years before, they always seem to be shrinking. I really don’t know what fabric they make these things from these days. So every year a whole new wardrobe unless one wants to look like a snake swallowing a lion.

And talking about that, I remember one night when as my husband and I prepared for a night out, I lay on my bed struggling with my favourite jeans (what qualifies as favourite is makes me look slim and, well, young), lying on the bed writhing and pulling, hubby (who happens to be naturally slim, tall and handsome so of course he cannot feel my pain) smirks and likens me to a snake struggling to swallow a hippo. I stopped midway and looked up quizzically.

“Why don’t you just buy the right size?” he wonders aloud.

“Why do women always do this? (How does he know this?) Why do you have to go through this?”

Stupid questions, as only a man would ask. Every woman knows the obsession we have with numbers. No double digits are ever cute as size 8 is the maximum American size cute. Imagine going into the True Religion store and asking for a size greater than 29? Shame will not allow me. I would rather buy a size too small or, well, just not go in.

Do you know that most good stores do not cater to people with a waist size bigger than 32 or 33? I live in fear of ending up in a chic store abroad…imagine the bitchy (skinny) salesperson. “Sorry, ma’am , we don’t do your size here, you might wanna try…” And she mentions a fat people’s store.

Not that I hate fat people, I just hate fat me! And I will die trying. I imagine myself pushing 70 and still trying. We have a long history, me and the Diet Monster.

Yet my dream size has eluded me. I have tried interval training, circuit training, slow steady cardio, jogging only, walking, boot camp, belly dancing, yoga, Tae bo, plain old starvation…to name a few.

Yet my dream size still eludes me.

So join me in my health and fitness quest. I promise you an interesting ride…but only if you promise not to laugh.


07 Jan

A working mother's dieting and exercise journey

Interval training is a fitness routine in which you have regular bursts of intense training alternating with rest periods. This typically means you sprint till your lungs burst for like 40 seconds and rest walk at a comfortable pace for like one minute. This is done for like six cycles. Most times at the end of the sixth cycle, you practically crawl off the treadmill, I guarantee you.

However, the difference was that my intervals may be at dinners in fancy restaurants, or airports or long corridors in hotels or shopping malls. The variety made the exercise fun and it definitely did not get boring.

The result? I came home five pounds lighter and very tired.

It didn’t help that my trainer is an 18-hour one. And unlike the expensive one-hour variety for $100 dollars, this one came for free. Unless you count the countless ice cream, chewing gum and candy bribes. My trainer was my just-turned-3-year-old hurricane. God, I had forgotten what it was like to have toddlers. Honestly, any advice to someone serious about losing weight? Adopt or have a toddler over 5 days a week. I guarantee you, you will lose weight. Unless you are not chasing her yourself.

Of course it helped that dinner was always an ordeal of trying not to be embarrassed by the ketchup stains on the pristine white table cloths and my grumpy husband hissing. “Why can’t she sit still?” I wish I knew.  Meals were always an ordeal. I barely had time to take a few bites before the “Mummy I have to use the bathroom”—steadily reaching a crescendo—drives me into a fury. Invariably, we ended up in the toilet for a lot of dinner. I would stand at the door because she would bluntly refuse to use the bathroom while I was in there (privacy in the bathroom…).

So I would be the sentry guard at the gate of Rapunzel’s castle, waiting for her Royal Highness to permit me entry to clean her bum. Intermittently, her highness would yell “Mummy are you there?”

“Yes I am. Are you done?”

“No, not yet Mummy”

The sweetness in that voice would melt my irritation till I see tissue paper streaming from the gap at the end of the door. Irritation would turn to exasperation. Then, I would yank open the door—the guard becoming janitor. Well, I figure this is another stretching exercise and I would stretch in the small cubicle and hold her with a vice grip with the other hand. See, resistance training.

Then washing hands, another resistance move, I imagine my biceps and triceps strengthening as I would be forced to hold her at that horrible angle that has no consideration for poor mothers like me at the wash basin.

It also helped that the toddler developed the “Mummy-I-Can’t-Walk-Carry-Me” syndrome. Most days were therefore spent hurling 34 pounds from arm to arm. So needless to say, after the first week of using the hotel gym, I threw in the towel and just gave up and concentrated on surviving the holiday.

Well, four weeks later, five pounds lighter, it reiterates the fact that if you live an active life, who needs exercise….your life in itself is a workout. And I assure you, that is the real reason those white ladies are skinny.



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