woman with tape measure around waist

Battle of the Bulge

This morning I woke up feeling overweight. I knew I had gained weight because even my footsteps sounded heavy. Thwap-thwap they went, instead of swish-swish.

“Do you think I am fat?” I asked my husband.

“Do you think you are fat?” he countered, emphasising the first ‘you’ in the statement.

“Yes,” I muttered.

“Ok, dear,” he agreed, hurrying out of the room before I could ply him with more queries.

This is serious stuff, said the voice in my head. Better get cracking before those fat cells swell to make me double in size.

Pulling my gym gear out of hibernation, I tried to fit into it. The t-shirt had somehow shrunk at the arms and the track pants were biting around my waist. My clothes were contracting at an alarming rate, I felt.

Tying my shoelaces into a determined knot, I reached for the car keys. On the way out, I grabbed a handful of dried nuts. I had read somewhere that one must never exercise on an empty stomach. The writer must obviously be fond of eating to make sweeping statements like that. Or perhaps this was indeed a scientific fact. I decided to give it the benefit of doubt while munching on pistachios.

In the fancy fitness centre, all eyes were on me as soon as I entered. The men and women there looked extremely healthy and were bursting with energy. I tried my level best to merge with the crowd but felt like it was my first day at school.

Looking around, I realized that most of the people did not even need to burn calories. They were trim and toned like professional models. Maybe they were professional models, hired to raise the glamour quotient of the place – who knows?

Finding a spot on the floor of the aerobics studio, I marked it with my water bottle and positioned myself on the second row: it was neither too close to the instructor, nor very far away. Flexing my limbs, I pretended to be a regular exercise junkie, and got sympathetic smiles from my co-exercisers.

A few minutes before the appointed hour, the trainers walked in. There were two of them and had perfectly chiselled bodies as though carved in elastic stone. One fidgeted with the music system, while the other fitted a wired microphone into a curve around his face. The class started suddenly, and I was in top form. I got totally blinded in my admiration of the two handsome instructors and was slightly smitten by their gorgeous looks as well.

Huffing and puffing, I kept up with them, step for agonizing step. Glancing at the big clock on the wall, I realized that it had only been 10 minutes and I was already getting out of breath. But midway through the class, I noticed a mean streak surface in the trainers as they kept pushing us. My enthusiasm was gradually vanishing faster than the drops of sweat on my forehead.

Towards the end of 45 minutes, I saw the two bullies in their true light and their nagging voice began to grate on my nerves. The last set was complete torture and if I could lift my foot off the ground, I would have happily kicked one, or both, of the wicked tormenters.

In the evening, the muscle cramps set in. Every movement brought me misery and I had no option but to sit perfectly still on the easy chair with eyes tightly shut.

“My new jeans don’t fit me, Mom. Do you think I am fat?” asked my skinny daughter.

A sly smile spread across my tired countenance.

“Do you think you are fat?” I countered, emphasising the first ‘you’ in the sentence.

By Nickunj Malik
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Nickunj Malik’s journalistic career began when she walked into the office of Khaleej Times newspaper in Dubai thirty-one years ago and got the job. Since then, her articles have appeared in various newspapers all over the world. She now resides in Portugal and is married to a banker who loves numbers more than words.