Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The F-Word

After an absence of a month and a half, returning to Singapore felt both familiar and strange. I welcomed the heat, humidity, efficiency, and my dear friends (not in that exact order though).

My dear friend, Emmanuel, immediately arranged dinner to catch up. He asked what I craved for. At that very moment, I wanted dumplings. We agreed to meet at the Majestic Hotel, then together walk to a small resto on Neil Road serving succulent Xiao Long Bao’s. I got lost in the maze of exits in the MRT Station. And when I saw him, I was sticky and sweaty. He greeted me with a big smile. A signed posted on the locked door of our chosen restaurant read, “CLOSED ON EVERY WEDNESDAY.” So we settled on an empty dimsum and teashop with airconditioning and serving icy cold Tiger Beer nearby. “You gained weight,” he commented looking at my photos from the trip. “I did? It’s obvious?,” I asked. Panic was evident in my voice. As only a true friend would, he admitted noticing it the moment he saw me.

We caught up on the juicy tidbits of each other’s lives during the month and a half apart. Throughout the evening and long after we parted, my mind fixated on his comment. I sat in the MRT thinking, “So I am a fatty?” Restless and insecure, I sent him a message asking the very question. He didn’t say no, instead suggested we play The Biggest Loser. I’d be the contestant, and he would be the trainer. While he never called me the “F-Word,” I still felt fat.

So, what made me fat? Was it the cold temperature in the US that enticed me to eat more? Was it the pressure of finishing my book’s manuscript to meet my publisher’s deadline? Or was it living in the same house as the “Carb Devil”? (While many Americans now try to stay away from carb, my mom indulged in buying or making cakes, biscuits, and freshly baked breads almost every single day. The Strawberry Streudel I photographed above is one of them). Or was it wining and dining with fellow IACP food professionals in Denver and fellow food writers at the Greenbier? Or was it my sister’s wedding festivities? Perhaps, it is all of the above.

For many Filipinos, you are expected to gain weight when you visit the US. Over drinks with three German friends in Singapore, they confided they too gain weight when they return to Germany. They blame the cold weather and eating way too much rich Bavarian dishes not available in Asia . “Do certain countries really make you fat,” I wondered. Moving to Australia, I shed ten pounds without diet or exercise. But I was definitely walking more. Emmanuel admitted he lost 5 pounds in Europe, attributing it to walking, too.

Frightened by the F-word, I am determined to lose the extra weight. I have enlisted Emmanuel’s services as my trainer. Upon his prodding and regular follow-ups, I am now committed to brisk walking daily in the hope the f-word would soon melt away.

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