Thursday, July 31, 2008

Housewife's Back!

I wrote this piece a long time ago, around February 2008.

Yeah! I’m back and for good this time … I hope. I have not written for around five months. It feels like it was only five weeks ago! Time does fly indeed!

Friends have been asking me why I stopped writing this column. My editor Irma Faith Pal was equally perplexed but she never gave up on me. Time and again, she reminded me of my deadlines, and time and again, I broke my word about coming up with something. Actually, I made several attempts to write and had in fact finished one, but they never got off the ground, so to speak.

So what cataclysmic event brought about this silence? Nothing much. I just went on a diet.

Whaaat? Diet? Yeah, I went on a diet. Hey! You out there, you can stop smirking at my diet. I may have stated earlier that it was nothing much, but if truth is to be told, going on a diet turned out to be a heartbreaking roller coaster ride that had me going three steps forward and four steps backwards. Ask anybody who, like me, loves food and hates exercise with equal fervor … and they’ll tell you how it is.

You may be wondering now where dieting and writing connect? I don't know if there is any medical basis to my observations, but when I started Southbeach Diet, nabotol ko. Yes, my mind just seemed to stop working at its usual pace. My thought processes slowed down, my memory became foggy, my body became more lethargic than usual … in other words, an 80-year old grandma would have had a mind that’s sharper than the one I had in the midst of my dieting frenzy.

To the uninitiated, Southbeach Diet is composed of 3 stages, the toughest being Phase 1 which lasts for 14 days. In a nutshell, Phase 1 is an absolutely NO CARB stage. It entails total deprivation of the body of sugar and fats to compel it to utilize its reserves thus leading to weight loss, lowering of blood sugar, healthier heart, etc. And it’s not just our plain old table sugar variety, mind you! By sugar, we mean any food that the body could chemically break down into sugar, which by the way, is what fuels our bodies in much the same way that gasoline is fuel for our vehicles.

To give you a clearer view of what I had to go through, here’s a list of what I was ONLY allowed to eat or have during Phase 1: lean white meat, fish and other seafood (only boiled or broiled), leafy veggies, canola oil or olive oil, a limited number of nuts, black coffee, tea … and oh yes! let’s not forget water because I was allowed to drown in it! Are you seeing the bleak picture now?

Now, here’s what I could NOT eat (and it’s all the good things in life!): fatty cuts and innards, red meat, veggies like carrots and potatoes (because they contain starch which the body could convert into sugar), cheese, all fruits and juices, softdrinks, ice cream, milk, yogurt, and here’s the worst! ALL CARBS … and this translates to NOT BEING ALLOWED TO EAT RICE, BREAD, CAKE, COOKIES, CEREAL, OATMEAL, PASTA, PASTRIES … could anybody be in a worse situation? Could I just let this out? Waaaaaah!

I know, I know … it’s for a healthier body and ultimately a longer life. Hey, that was why I started dieting in the first place! But who am I kidding? My husband was coming home! Honestly? That was my first and foremost reason for this self-imposed torture. Health comes a poor second.

I’d like to go on and on, but I have exceeded my word limit already. Next week, I’ll write more about my chacha-like efforts in preparation for hubby’s homecoming. Friends, no teasing please! OFW wives, rally behind me! Tell those who are still in the dark that it’s not only me. We all go through this pa-gwapa frenzy a month or two before hubby’s return, right? More about that next week.


We all know for a fact that most of us ladies let ourselves “go” after we get married. Generally speaking, weight gain becomes particularly inevitable after a baby or two starts coming.

Only a lucky few are able to keep their 20-something figure. For most, sheer willpower, I’m sure! But some, I guess, are simply not genetically predisposed towards obesity. I call these lucky ones genetic lotto winners. But for the rest of us sorry souls, we could only but sigh at the sight of those nubile young things we see parading around in our streets.

I most unfortunately belong to that latter category. Not too long ago, I used to possess a cola-cola body (sigh!) … mind you … I still got that enviable figure … albeit it’s now in cans! (sigh again!)

I’d often catch my husband looking at me with that bewildered look on his face, as if wondering where that shapely thing he married eleven years ago has gone! In fairness though, I still have all those shapes, they just went to all the wrong places!

Being an OFW wife, it was particularly easy for me to let my figure go. With no husband to make pa-gwapa for ten months at a time, plus add the fact that I am not particularly arte … not to mention my love affair with every gastronomic delight Dumaguete could offer … and let’s not forget my most strenuous activity … surfing TV channels … no wonder I ballooned to unmentionable figures after only one child!

I don't really mind being the “fat lady” … that is, during the first eight months after my husband’s departure for his work overseas. But come the last two months prior to his homecoming, and you’ll find me in a whirlwind of activities that could only be only be described as Olympian!

I know that most OFW wives go through this pa-gwapa stage before hubby comes home. My friend Pam told me how she jogged every morning, ate practically nothing, and started swallowing those whitening pills in preparation for her husband’s homecoming. Good for Pam her that efforts paid of. She stills glows whenever she’d recall the look on hubby’s face when he caught sight of her new look at the airport. Her reward? Instead of rushing back to Dumaguete to their three daughters, they stayed five days in Manila for what could only be called a second honeymoon! Now, if that’s not a happy ending, I wonder what else could be!

And how about my own efforts? Could a heavy sigh be answer enough for you?

Believe me, I’ve tried every diet there is! About three years ago, I had success with the Southbeach Diet and actually lost about fifteen pounds! But sadly, this time around, I could no longer summon the willpower to finish one entire phase without cheating.

Here’s the picture: you’re supposed to finish Phase 1 in 14 days, right? I’d do like 7 days and lose like 5 lbs. Beaming with success, I’d decide to take a one-day breather and reward my gargantuan efforts with a trip to Chow King with my eating pals Maru and Chedette, who, by the way, love Chaofan and Halo-Halo with as much passion as I do! Before I knew it, that one-day break would stretch to two or even three more days. And those 5 pounds I just lost? Take a guess.

Just as girlfriends Maru, Chedette and I binge together, we also start our doomed-from-the-very-beginning diets and weight-losing efforts together.

We have tried going to the gym and invaded Mr. Sy’s realm at Cellutrim with enthusiasm that quickly trickled into nothingness as tortuous week after tortuous week dragged ever so slowly. During our lowest times, we usually comforted our aching muscles with a quick detour to Chow King. Another rational behind this is to give equal exercise opportunities to all our body parts. We can’t be accused of neglecting our jaws, you know! Hence, that trip for the rigorous jaw workout it offers!

And in between those sinfully heavenly trips, together or singly, we tried the pastrami diet, the carbo lovers’ diet, no meals after six, the eat-only-oatmeal thingy, and yeah … the 3- Day diet that I’ll never forget for it’s hellish grapefruit juice! And what did we lose in this last endeavor? Negligible amount of pounds and very substantial amounts from our wallets!

My editor Irma Faith Pal tries to help by inviting me along her biking sorties to Valencia. I’ve lost count of the number of times I said yes only to chicken out at the last minute. But can you blame me for becoming terrified at the idea? The last time I spent considerable time in a bike was astride my easyrider way back 30 years ago!

But I did find an exercise routine that I could live with. It’s a very easy-to-do 45-minute exercise that I could do right inside my home. It’s the 3-mile walk video shared to me by Tita Nini Cabrera. All you need to do is follow the walking movements they do on video. It’s guaranteed to squeeze all sweat out of your body.

My frantic but doomed efforts usually wind down about two weeks from D-day when I’d look at the mirror and decide my poor hubby will just have to adore me for my winning personality!

But all hope is not lost though! My girlfriends put their heads together and came up with makeover in lieu of weight loss. They took me shopping for clothes that could hide my bulges and had Maria Havranek of Cuttin’ Loose get rid of my manang look.

I was a nervous wreak before we started. Imagine having my hair colored for the first time! That was a very big step. But bubbly Maria soon took care of my nerves and proceeded to do a fabulous job with my hair! I love it! She also gave my editor Irma Faith her first-time ever streaks earlier that day! Talk of pleasant coincidences.

So what did my husband had to say about all these? Just like any typical dense-headed male … he didn’t even notice! I practically had to stand under the midday sun before it finally dawned on him. I should have asked Maria to give me a carrot hair … that would have saved me from sunburn!

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