Ever since I can remember, I have had a love-hate relationship with my body.
That is a lie.
I was a cheerfully overweight and precocious prepubescent, who revelled in eating three helpings of rice per meal + assorted curries and savouries, followed by snacks that included one-and-a-half packets of instant noodles drizzled with salt and four packets of potato chips. Once I moved back to India, I shed the weight fairly quickly but I was always a ‘large’ teenager, owing to my height, especially in relation to that of my diminutive classmates. It is only now that I remember cries of “water buffalo” every time it was my turn to serve during throw ball, the Indian version of diluted volleyball for girls.
I grew up into a gangly, heavy-browed college student. Photos immortalised on Facebook now tell me that I didn’t do my eyebrows, I didn’t wear adequate kajal, and I dressed in varying states of shabbiness, but I was still very pleased, very confident, and doing extremely well in my social spheres, notwithstanding how bad I think I used to look. Food was still a joy at that stage; I could out-eat most people I know (except boys battling munchies), and my memories revolve around meals – ice tea and chocolate-covered biscuits from the Loyola College canteen; plates of sev puri (without curd) from the Stella Maris chaat shop before the chaatwallah eloped (allegedly) with one of the students; vast quantities of pasta, cheese, and dal makhani followed by mammoth slices of cheesecake dripping with blueberry jam. I was a picky eater with respect to the kinds of food I liked and disliked, but I still ate, whole-heartedly.
My weight was like a mood swing. I’ve been told that I’m never fat owing to my height, but the pendulum definitely struck ‘heavy’ more than once, but that was okay. Physical activity has never been part of my charm, though I did gym briefly while in my second year of college, mostly because my mother had signed up and the gym was down the road. It is testament to my own laziness and tendency to exaggerate that I still talk about ‘how I worked out in college’.
It was only after I got my first job and moved out for the first time that my battles began. I lost ten kilos in the first few months there, probably due to the almost absolute elimination of rice from my diet, bad habits, and an overindulgence in junk food that somehow didn’t kill me. The weight loss only registered after about twenty people exclaimed at it when I used to go home every few months to visit my parents. My parents themselves were shocked; visions of their baby wasting away in a faraway city made my weight loss a national crisis.
It was sometime after that that the obsession began. I became fussier about food, and not only about the quality and cuisine. I would overeat, and then, in a fit of depression, purge. It worked for a while, and it worked well, and common sense has never been one of my fortes, at least when it comes to taking my own advice. I started worrying about everything I ate, and everything I didn’t eat. I still loved food and I loved to eat, while cheerfully spurning all forms of exercise. Naturally, my abnormal weight loss couldn’t sustain and by the time I moved back home, nearly two years later, most of the weight was back.
I have to say here that my obsessions are fairly unfounded. If I worry, it should be about my lack of exercise, my poor diet, my bad habits. I’ve put off going to a gym for a year, while talking incessantly about how I need to, if only to get back into shape and to tone up a little.
Now, I’ve claimed that I’ll go tomorrow. Laziness and procrastination will be my downfall, but maybe writing these words down will help. I am composing this blog post while leisurely lathering my hair in the shower, so I don’t know if this post will even see the light of day. It’s an odd way to recommence blogging after ending my seven years on the Internet at a different address, but we all start somewhere. Maybe this will be my beginning.
title source: cotton fields by creedence clearwater revival