My body has been keeping secrets from me.

 

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Photo by ARTHUR YAO on Unsplash

1

That extra pound… where did it come from? Christmas parties? Office buffet? Is there some kind of ninja who secretly shoved an extra flab into my waist?

Either way, it’s there — hanging limp and flabby.

2

Whenever I brought this topic about my body changing, people would scoff. At four feet and eight inches and no “visible” flabs adorning my arms or waist, they didn’t think that I have any right to whine.

Really?

3

It’s harder to stay thin. Or fit. Or whatever category I was fitted in. In my late twenties, skipping one cup of rice can hardly make a difference. On a night shift, it was easier to put any kinds of food in my mouth. It’s hard to get a complete seven-hour sleep during the day, which meant I was constantly sleep deprived. Which meant I’m often hungry. To stick to the edge of my no-fat cliff, I walked home.

On my next job stint, it’s easier to get a decent amount of sleep. So what’s the problem?

4

I’m still gaining weight. I’ve been eating well but without any regular physical activity, perhaps, I wasn’t burning that much. Either way, my run-to solutions have ran out. I can’t always wear hoodies and large tees to hide the truth from myself. I’ve went to shop for more than two pairs of jeans in one month just because everything else felt tight.

“Kendo”

My friend’s been practicing kendo for years and he tells me it’s okay to join. Even if my only background in sports are those compulsory physical ed classes. Even if I haven’t have the right attire or own a bamboo sword called shinai.

So one fine Sunday, without doing much research, I joined the Cebu Kendo Club.

5

Headaches. Muscle sores. These were the aftermath. Yet, strangely I liked it.

I liked the feeling of being drenched in sweat, trying to perfect the basic positions. From the feet, to my hips, the aim was constant: precision. It didn’t matter that I slumped — they’d teach me to keep my back and spine erect. My chest is pushed out, proud and confident. It didn’t felt natural to be that sort of straight, but it looked good on my seniors. I guess, it will also look good on me.

So to keep my body posture straight, I worked on it. I sat straight in my office chair. I do my laundry with my right feet forward and my left foot backwards, putting my weight at the center. It didn’t speed up my washing, but it gradually made the posture feel natural.

I was told to work harder.

6

I’ve watched tutorial videos to acquaint myself with some common kendo terms.

Overall, I find it fascinating: to be able to learn how well I can use my body. With a straighter posture, I’ve wondered, why didn’t I use my body like that? Why did I tend to curve myself inward? My kendo lessons taught me that I can stand straight and keep my chest puffed out, but it also brought out an uncomfortable truth behind my old ways. I slouched often because unconsciously I wanted to project smallness. And with that smallness, insignificance. Like “hey, I’m here, but I won’t be occupying that much space, so yeah, you can ignore me.”

Through my seniors and sensei, I’ve learned that I can use my body to project pride and confidence.

7

My muscles are singing in pain.

There are still things that I couldn’t do. I have yet to carry out the same ear-splitting shout (i.e., kiai) that others do. One of my seniors said that this, too, requires and communicates confidence. Another said that shouting can also be a form of “release” for one’s nervousness.

I’m someone who learns slowly but eagerly. There are times when I feel like I get it and days when I don’t. Perhaps, that’s the point of constant practice. Yet, as I learn more footwork and striking, I can also see the different possibilities my body could create. And with a body that can do these much, I think I’ll eventually learn how to love it more. Who knows, soon I can fully embrace its truths. That my body is changing. That everything, even fat, is part of me.

That the next time I buy a new pair of jeans, I wouldn’t have to feel disgust looking at myself in the mirror.

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