Category Archives: Diet

360° Weight Gain

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…


Egg Whites and Tofu

If there’s one thing that my years of eating disorder counselling taught me, it’s that restrictive, obsessive dieting doesn’t work.

Anyway, I’m seven days into a restrictive, obsessive diet. It’s the French one that’s a bit like Atkins. No carbs, lots of protein (difficult for a vegetarian) and, initially, not much else. Unlike Atkins, fat is not permitted but vegetables are. According to the website’s calculations, I’m due to reach my target weight by November.

Cynics might say that such a diet is terribly unhealthy. But to the doubters I say: can it really be any less healthy than my previous diet of noodles, ice cream and Diet Coke?

On Sunday, I finished the first five protein-only days in which I ate lots of egg whites, tofu and skimmed milk. And for the past two days I’ve been eating the above plus vegetables. I had homemade tomato soup and tofu for lunch, and aubergine, tofu and green stuff for supper. So it’s not too foul, but it is a little bit dull.

The diet is resurrecting my taste buds, which had more-or-less atrophied after years of sugar, artificial flavouring and fats. And, most importantly, I’m losing weight. I have no idea how much, as I don’t have scales, but I can feel it steadily melting away.

Of course, none of this dieting stupidity would be necessary if I hadn’t put the weight on in the first place. Unfortunately, my weight is always linked to my happiness. And over the past two years I made some stupid decisions that affected both.

If I had my time again, I would’ve left Beijing after my first year here. I’d seen the city, made some friends and (to a certain extent) enjoyed my job. But I was unsure of where to go and what to do next so I took the easy option and stayed. That was when things got ugly. I met someone who shall not be named and got dragged into a whirlpool of shit, and it’s taken the best part of two years to get back up to the surface.

The lesson that I need to take from this is that when a decision needs to be made, I need to be a man and make it. I can’t just float along doing whatever is easiest. And so it comes as a relief to know that, while I have no idea what my long-term future will be like, the next 10 months or so are planned and are worth looking forward to.