When I look in the mirror, I habitually suck in my chins and stomach, put my arms by my sides to hide the love handles, and lift my shoulders so as to stretch my chest flatter. So, when I see myself in the mirror, I see a fat man, but not a hugely fat one. I unthinkingly ‘airbrush’ myself on the spot to hide some of the worst fatty parts.
At the summer camps, people are always taking photographs of me – we have official individual, group and class portraits, and the students and teaching assistants take hundreds of pictures and hours of video. Though I haven’t checked, I’m told by a Chinese teacher that my picture is on dozens of student blogs.
And it’s only by looking at some of these pictures that I realise how big I’ve got over the past year. From the front, with chins sucked in, my face is podgy but still has some definition and doesn’t look too big. But from the side, my chin droops into my neck fat, my cheeks are bulbous and even the back of my head has a spare tire. I have double D-cup breasts, back fat rolling over the top of my jeans and a pregnant-with-triplets stomach. In one particularly gruesome class photo I look like a down’s syndrome man with breast implants.
It’s all a bit depressing. But the good news is that, after looking at some old pictures of my travels around China in 2008, I realise I can lose the weight quite quickly if I put my mind to it. I joined a gym in the summer of that year, and totally transformed my appearance in around three months. So, after the summer camps end, I’m going back to the gym and combined with the inevitable weight I’ll lose while travelling, I should be a reasonable size by the end of the year. Then I just have to focus on keeping the weight off…