Now, we exercise

Today I was going back to the office from lunch break and I realized that I am really getting fat again.

It's easy to blame it on Christmas season. It is, after all, a week where lots of food are put on the table, and you are expected to eat all of them up. Sure, everybody talks about keeping things in moderation - small portions, evenly-spaced meals, that sort of thing - but the same people also talk about getting away with it. You can cheat, they'd probably say. It's Christmas. You can burn it all off next year. Cue unused gym memberships when the new year rolls by.

Mine isn't any different, really. I was at my maternal grandmother's home when the clock struck midnight on Christmas day. My aunt - she who cooks and does crafts and is still single - has whipped up three different pasta dishes, one of which is technically fatal: spaghetti with tomato-based aligue sauce, and kani all over it. (I bought the kani myself, although I was disappointed I didn't see them in stick form, but in flake form, when I did my apparently traditional Christmas eve grocery round. It still works well, I must say.) Twelve hours later, I was at my uncle's home, with the rest of my relatives from my dad's side of the family, and on the table was adobo and baked macaroni and panna cotta my cousin made ("madali lang siya!") and other stuff I can't remember.

Oh, and in the less than twelve hours that split the two gatherings, I had two different (but the same) takes on kare-kare. I'm sure you understand how your defenses fall when the dish's rich sauce made of ground peanut (or peanut butter, if you're cheap - definitely not in my grandmother's kare-kare, painstakingly made, inherited from my late great grandmother, a whiz in the kitchen who eventually forgot about us before she died) hits your steaming heap of rice, plus a slice of banana flower, some oxtail, some tripe...

But now it's not really just the things you eat on Christmas day. I realize this (again) now that I have a job that involves, in Rainy's words, "being paid to eat". (That doesn't just apply to food critics.) How many Christmas parties have I gone to last month? One, two, three...

The first one was at the launch of the Christkindlmarket in Manila, where I had the usual finger food (free) and a glass of Gluhwein (free, but ineffective, since drinking wine steeped in spices only works when you're in subzero temperatures, as a DLSU professor that I met in another Christmas party would tell me) and, later, some bratwurst (not free). I also had two glasses of white wine which, surprisingly, gave me a headache, one so bad I had to burn it off by talking to Clarence. Also, whisky. My first shot of Blue Label. That did not give me a headache.

The second one was a get-together with one of the trade organizations I constantly keep touch with. You know what happens when not-so-old people gather: there's a lot of food, there's a lot of drinks, and there's a lot of lechon. The caterers were kinda blah, though. This is something I keep in mind when eating in these gatherings: the buffet will often consist of food you've had before, and they'll likely be nothing special, unless you have reason to believe that they will be very special. So eat little, for you will not enjoy it.

The third one was another night of cocktails with German people. While a guy dressed as Santa Claus was performing traditional carol on the piano, I had more wine, and unusually for a German event, Japanese food. Well, not unusually, because this happened before, without Santa Claus on the piano.

The fourth - yes, there's a fourth - was our company Christmas party. Disappointingly for a hotel, the buffet was blah too. (My expectations were high because this is the first time the company held their Christmas party in a hotel.) I'm sure I enjoyed one item in particular, though. I don't remember, because I was thinking of the performances I did that night: one, a dance number that came into fruition after one too many viewings of So You Think You Can Dance; the other, a viral video-worthy moment in one of the games, one that everybody but me and that other colleague seemed to think very, umm, green-ly of.

Being in the Philippines, there's another big feast as we counted down to 2013. My aunt again, in this case, cooked up a vaguely Asian feast: shabu-shabu, samgyeopsal, japchae, my tummy is hurting, am I not supposed to sleep with a full tummy? Damn it, her signature hot chocolate. Champorado without the rice. Damn it. And the stuff we brought home from our Albay vacation, which is essentially a lot of pinangat, because it's obviously cheaper, and obviously better, there.

And then there's my birthday. I think we had Japanese on my actual birthday. Then, three days ago, I finally fulfilled my dream of eating Indian food. Swagat, of course. Breaded chili pepper as an appetizer. Too bad the rest of the family wanted their food mildly spiced. I have to go back there, if only to really have the experience, but it is a good start.

Yeah, my birthday does make my life a bit more complicated. It's close enough to Christmas to merit me getting only one gift instead of two, but far enough to have separate meals. Oh, my belly. My body mass index. My wardrobe. My posture.

And that's how I found myself this afternoon, walking back to the office from the lunch break, feeling that my Uniqlo top is getting tighter, and knowing that I have to lose weight. I'm not aiming for a drastic change. I don't need to take up, say, tennis to be fit. I never really harbored dreams of competing at the Australian Open anyway, although meeting Ana Ivanovic - the most beautiful tennis player ever, with apologies to the Russians - would be a huge plus. I did lose some of my belly fat during my time working at home, but that's because I spent every morning walking, because I had the time. I just want to be able to maintain a relatively healthy weight: no crash diets, no gym memberships, no food supplements (no approved therapeutic claims) or whatever. I guess I can do it again.

"Just got home from UP," Rainy's text this morning read. "Jogging."

I can't imagine her jogging, for one. I can't imagine myself jogging, either. Granted, I'll be walking instead like I did before, but food. A steaming bowl of rice. And rich sauce made of ground peanuts on top.

And your responses...

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