Scales Don't Deserve Tipping
Let’s not mince words; Korea is not very kind to fat people, even to the homegrown whales on the streets. The average Korean university couple could exchange jeans very easily, and even though obesity is a mounting problem in the ROK, it hasn’t yet reached the fever pitch.
BUSAN, South Korea -- A pox on political correctness! Especially in department stores that stopped labeling jeans as “husky.” That was a kind enough term for tubby bastards like myself back in the day, when we realized that we were “different.” We needed “husky” jeans because — what were the other jeans called? “Regular fit”. They might as well have been called “Why-don’t-you-staple-gun-your-lips-together, fat ass? Fit”. Now they’re called “Relaxed fit,” which is even worse. Because “relaxed” is an all-too-perfect designation — too much relaxation, too much food, too much complacency, and you realize that maybe you should drop a couple.
Having to lose weight sucks in so many ways, it doesn’t behoove you to count. And let’s not mince words; Korea is not very kind to fat people, even to the homegrown whales on the streets. The average Korean university couple could exchange jeans very easily, and even though obesity is a mounting problem in the ROK, it hasn’t yet reached the fever pitch that North America is now experiencing. When I go back home, I’m considered normal, and that’s worrisome.
In my svelte days, clothes shopping in Korea wasn’t much of a problem (at least in terms of sizes; fashion options is a whole other story), but it got to the point where some shopkeepers were rude enough to simply say, in combinations of Korean, Konglish and sign language, that they couldn’t possibly have my size. This was before I even bothered to touch any of their wares. “Free size?” They may call it free, but the toll on your psyche from hearing this so often is pretty high.
Don’t give me any nonsense about glands, unless you’re unlucky enough to be suffering from Prader Willi Syndrome. Bad food, too much good food, and junk food combined with a sedentary lifestyle will always do you in — this proved true in my case. Not enough (read: zero) exercise, way too much Coca-Cola, Fun Dip, Tang, etc. — Lord have mercy, if it was bad, I ate it. I didn’t touch a glass of milk until I was 17 years old. I never ate vegetables until 16 or so. 10kg boxes of bacon, chicken nuggets, tubs of Heavenly Hash ice cream (perfect when enjoyed with Saturday morning cartoons; I’m pleased to say that this is still lots of fun)… the house was full of good food too, but I’d be damned if I was going near any of it! I had a Greek mother who was and still is an amazing cook, and I never touched a bite of her cuisine until God knows when. Some call it picky, but I’ll own up to it: I was a spoiled brat.
One day, when I was about 23, I was sitting on my mother’s couch watching a horrendously bad Ottawa morning show. I looked out the window at a clear blue summer sky, and I suddenly got angry. I was angry at myself for sitting on my arse doing absolutely nothing about myself when I could have been out there walking, jogging, doing anything active. So I got my sweats on and drove to a standard high school track and started running. I think I got to about 4 ½ laps before my lungs gave in, but I wasn’t discouraged. Over the next two months, I put together a regimen that simply changed my life. And it was so damn simple, I could hardly believe it. No chips, no chocolate, no booze, no sodas, nothing that wasn’t grilled or steamed. 4-8km of jogging/sprints every day, combined with some weightlifting and home exercises, and I went from 185 pounds to about 149. I also shaved my head for the first time, prompting several of my parents’ friends to worry that I might have contracted cancer. Apparently leukemia was a more common weight-loss technique than I realized.
I became fanatical about weight loss to the point that I had to replace my entire wardrobe because nothing fit me anymore. When I went out the clubs, I looked more like a piece of meat than ever before, and I loved it. It was a whole new way to attract attention, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I also felt fabulous for the first time in my life. Fortunately, it didn’t change me much as a person. Self-effacing humor was still my favourite secret weapon, and it served me well when the pounds began to creep back on.
Upon arriving in Korea, I leveled out and incrementally gained weight over the years. Before long, I had to admit I was looking at Mr. Husky in the mirror once again. So, about 6 weeks ago, my wife and I made an agreement to cut back on the stuff that was making us (mostly me) bigger. Though I hesitate to tell you my original weight, I will say that without any moderate exercise, solely from reducing portions and abstaining from crappy eats like sodas and fast food burgers, I’ve lost about 5kg. You learn not to miss certain things (though I still insist that a Burger King Whopper at 4 a.m. after you’ve left the bars is a true North American delicacy) and you find other, healthier things that you enjoy eating instead. There’s no substitute in the world for a Mars bar or a long, tall glass of Coke with crushed ice, but through strength of will, you should be able to eventually rationalize it all and say “I’ll have that crap again someday, but not today.”
Though it’s been at least 12 years since I last tried this type of moratorium on Mr. Husky’s culinary standbys, I’ve found that the old habits do come back, the good ones as well as the bad. At this point in my life, the goals remain the same — to lose weight and simply become healthier. There’s one added goal that a lot of tubbos are unable to reach, and that is simply taking the “guilty” out of “guilty pleasure.” Now, when I treat myself to some enticing little calorie bomb, I savor it, knowing that it really is a treat and not a dietary staple keeping me heavier than I want to be. If you put in the work, you will see results, and enjoy them. Eventually, you’ll see a lot less of yourself in the mirror, and that can’t be a bad thing.
More: Can Korea Handle an Overweight Girl Group?
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