A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with MinCat online and then said, “Ok, bye, I’m going to go for a run.” When I came back, there was a message in the chat box: “What? Who is this? And where is my friend?”

I giggled. Yeah, I started running and I forgot to tell MinCat.

It had to do with the weight loss. I lost so much weight after the India trip, and I fell in love with the angles of my face and I wanted to keep them. Initially, I tried starving controlling my diet, which worked because my appetite had taken a dipper after the spate of illness.

But then, I started getting hungrier. So the only alternative was to exercise. So I decided to start with a walk, which is how I usually start. The weather at the time was beautiful, and we have a new seaside promenade near our apartment. And one day, I started running.

See, running has always been my go-to exercise. I trained as an athlete from the age on nine right until I started college. And so, whenever I needed to exercise that’s what I would do. And in retrospect, I realised, that running brings the weight off like nothing else. Not that I’ve tried much else, but it works.

Interestingly, all the time I trained as an athlete I hated it. I did it because my parents insisted. I was a sickly child and they figured it would toughen me up. According to them, it did. I still remember being sick a lot but my mum claims it was less frequent. Also, my sister was a natural athlete, and I always did what she did. So I stuck with it. Also, once I get started on something I’m very bad at quitting. The idea didn’t cross my mind. So I continued, while not exactly loving the whole thing. [This post by Alison struck a chord of recognition with me]

My sister continued to run long after I did. She even ran in the snow in Wisconsin. I think she enjoyed it. Though she also continued going to church long after I stopped so…

For me, running became a functional thing, a way to lose weight when the calories finally started piling on enough to scare me. When people spoke of runner’s high, I rolled my eyes. All the while I had been running, I never felt it. Through my childhood, I went through the motions of training in anticipation of the moment it would be over. Ironically, I was put into the long-distance running camp which meant any bout of running took much longer to get over before you could stop and catch your breath. And I particularly hated competitive racing. I used to pray for my period before races and sometimes it would work or I’d get a fever (probably from stress) and so I believed in a higher being for a long time. After any training session, instead of feeling euphoric, I would feel sleepy. I would have a bath at home and try to catch 10 minutes of sleep before dressing for school.

I didn’t run for a long time in Hong Kong. We used to hike a lot and that took care of the exercise. Then, after Benji, one day I started running. It was night, I had music on my earphones and one of those very peppy songs came on and suddenly, I experienced it – that runner’s high that had always eluded me. It made me laugh out loud. I had been running on and off for 25 years without once experiencing the glory of it, and finally, when I didn’t need to run really, I could see what all the fuss was about.

Since then, I don’t feel so bad about running. I don’t always experience a runner’s high but I do once in a while and that helps things. I would run without the high because my goal is different, it’s to keep my weight down. But it’s nice to have it. There are some ingredients that make it easier to achieve. My body has to be a certain condition, that I’m becoming more and mroe convinced is related to my hormonal cycle. I usually need to be outdoors. A song that puts me in the mood has to come on.

So yeah, I’ve been running. And doing yoga once a week, and more recently swimming. The swimming inspired V to think that he needs to start something too. Which is only a good thing.

Now that we have great places to run outside, I don’t ever want to go to the gym. I suspect this is going to be a problem because the weather has turned rainy. We have a gym right in our building, so it’s not as if getting there is inconvenient. Last week, it was raining so I used to gym and it just felt so ridiculous to be running on a threadmill, not to mention that my arm kept hitting the emergency button and shutting the machine down.

To beat that, I’ve decided to go running in the morning if the sky looks blue. This is also a departure because I risk being tired the whole day. But strangely, I’m ok. One day, I ran in the morning, I even felt more energized than before which has never happened to me in my life.

Today, I went out for a run, even though the sky was overcast and got caught in a downpour. I waited it out under some shade and then continued. I never thought I’d see the day when I didn’t use rain as an excuse not to run. Please note, I hate getting wet in the rain.

My weight loss has plateaued a bit, because I haven’t been as careful about the diet. But I’m in the sweet spot weight wise right now, and as long as I can maintain that, I’m happy.

About the weight loss, it’s fashionable to stress health. But let’s be clear, my aim is that I want to look a certain way. The health benefits – and there are some,  I do feel healthier and my body is lighter to carry – are like a happy side effect but not the main point. If I could be thin without exercising, I would happily do that and find other ways to deal with the health issues (like sleeping, my other favourite thing to do).

On the other hand, while I’m frank about my superficial goals, I find it annoying when people in the fitness industry (or just the whole of frickin’ Hong Kong) seem obsessed with thinness. Like at my yoga class yesterday, the instructor was waffling on about slimming and what to eat and what not, and I just ignored her (which was easy to do because she was waffling on in Cantonese and I only understand the barest bones of it). But honestly, lady, the point of yoga is not slimming. And it is offensive to people who are less than slim (rare as they might be in this city) to go on about weight.

I know it’s contradictory to want to lose weight but to be annoyed when the whole world is obsessed with the same, but I think it’s tolerable as my own little quirk (though obviously influenced by the beauty myth and all that) and not when it’s like a discourse one is subjected to from every corner. I would appreciate if power would function more subtly as Foucault said it should. Hmph.

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