The other day, I spent a couple of hours cringing through my old pictures folder.
I was a belly monster. Okay, it’s a little bit of an exaggeration. I dabbled in various fitness classes before I religiously hung out in a large 40 degrees sauna with strangers doing 26 poses in the same sequence for a couple of years. Bikram yoga. I swore by it. 3 times a week, sometimes 4, sometimes 0, complemented by a once a week light jog around Safa Park, when it was 3.4km back in the day. Huffing and puffing at a heart rate of 180 and above. I thought it was the best thing ever to give me the glow and muscles I dreamed of.
I consciously kept my weight at a constant 54kg because I believed in slow progress. All I wanted, was to improve my Donald Duck posture. A little overweight for my height? Nah..didn’t even cross my mind. I was convinced plumpy was cute and a sign of good health. I held my tummy in ALL THE TIME and bought a size larger of everything. I’m barely 5 foot and ate whatever I wanted to. Once I disgracefully won a bet for eating a whole Dominos pizza because I was just, well, an idiot. With a mouth full of pizza, I triumphantly took the money, while the loser turned around in disgust. I was stuck to my seat for the most part of the day comfortably letting my belly go, burnt less than 500 calories a couple of times a week, and ate like a cookie monster.
Before good lookin’ pictures of food proliferated all over social media, I was on a munch down journey. I ate like the end of the world was round the corner or something. Without having to digress into my state of the art diet, a typical day, looked like this,:
Breakfast: Banana Pancakes, cheese croissant, Frosties, fruits, white bread, Lebanese pita bread, muffins, and my love for Emirati breakfast.
Lunch: Potbelly pizza sandwich with a side of baked fries – oh yes and a bag of cookies please, greasy Indian, Iranian, Italian, kebabs, burger takeouts. Emirati meals. Are you nauseous yet?
Snacks: Cupcakes, Kitkat, icecream, cake, NO COKE <— because ‘Coke is a bad boy’
Dinner: To cut it short, I ate like a pig because, in my mind, aliens were on their way and FOMO. I’ve tried it all , everywhere that made its debut in Dubai before the second half of 2014.
I was bloated everyday. Got the stomach bug every week. Hell, I was on the road to becoming Spongebob Squarepants. In my mind, I thought I was getting my funk on. Stylish A-symmetric baggy clothing, holding in my belly, flexing non existent muscles, and showing off my toned legs in skinny jeans.
And then, one day, September 2013, I was lying down belly up on my bed, when my friend challenged me to a 25 minutes 5k, ONLY, if I followed a specific training plan that included 4 runs a week. The first week into training, I took a long vacation, which was NOT a part of the training plan.
After I came back, in two months, I ran my first 5k in a whopping 25.5 minutes. I desperately needed to lay down and maybe throw up. In 4 months, I ran my 2nd 10k 16 minutes faster than my first, two years ago. How I do it? I focused and followed instructions because I love instructions and manuals. I’m that dork who reads the last page of a book before even starting.
In 2014, I trained almost everyday, and sometimes twice to build my engine for two races at the end of the year. Then, it crumbled down when I went away for 3 weeks, right before the race, and lost 2-3 months worth of fitness because I was just an average shopaholic mall rat. It’s not like I had a background full of fitness either. I sucked at basketball in school, (you think?) made the volleyball team but only to keep the benches warm, and ate uncontrollably totally aware of my sensitive gut while hoovering down hot dogs from gas stations, french fries, fish fingers. I maxed out my credit card on worthless crap, 80% of which I gave away because my clothes were falling off.
At the end of 2014, I struggled down the finish line in both races I spent the entire year training for. I couldn’t be running feeling like I was carrying a baby in a backpack turned to the front, or feeling like I wanted to throw up almost everything I ate the night before. I threw the toys out of the pram and blamed the cook for EVERYTHING. He doesn’t know I run.
So in January 2015, I totally did a U-turn on my diet. If I wanted to run faster, I had to step up my game physically and mentally. Halve my portions, eat consciously, cut back on vacation time, embrace FOMO, compromise late dinners for more sleep, lift weights, and enjoy aging. I started to invest in things that matter like a gym membership where good looking people go and pick up a cucumber instead of Maltesers. Rather than swiping down instagram posts of people who have better lives than me, I read running blogs, travel blogs, nutrition, podcasts, science of anything, race reports blah blah. Except for gas station hot dogs and gob-smackers, I haven’t cut out anything from my diet. I still eat cupcakes and burgers every other week, and discovered a new found love of Jarritos Mexican Cola…..and camel milk.
I have come to terms that it is not the apocalypse and we’re not running out of food.
Sorry for making this a post san pix, but I presume you know what a running track and gym look like.