THE TROUSER BATTLE AND MY FINALLY HAPPENING WEIGHT LOSS

I have lost ten kilos since November of last year. An eighteen month baby can be created with the pudge I have lost, not that I’d like to have an eighteen month old baby. Babies are so miraculous, but I would prefer not to have this miracle right now. I already have three which started as miracles, but later morphed into something else entirely. I think I am getting off the topic here. I apologize, I have a tendency to veering off the subject. I’ve been told many times that my attention span is that of  a gold fish.

 

I have struggled with an extra twenty kg for as long as I can remember. I can’t blame it on pregnancy because those offending kilograms were there long before I became a baby carrier. If I really put my brain to the root cause of  it, I think  it was those deceptively light Krispy Kreme donuts, (8-10 at a time), I consumed when I was pulling all-nighters as an undergrad. Or maybe those fish fillets that I had to devour as twos, (one was such a lonely number), or those salt drenched fries that simply had to be downed in a super-size. The list of culprits doesn’t stop there. There were many, many other foods that I simply couldn’t imagine my existence without. There was the smorgasbord of candy bars, the chocolate chip cookies, the potato chips. The amount of soda that I drank could have filled a swimming pool. I even loved cake covered with that hideous culinary shame called butter-cream icing. I think it’s called butt-r cream because it goes directly to the part it’s named for. When you are twenty something and in college, food is practically your best friend, especially bad food, just like those friends that you shouldn’t hang around but love anyway for absolutely no reason except to drive your parents crazy.

Anyway, fast forward many, many years (I wont say how many), and we come to my current weight dilemma. I was always on a weight gain and loss cycle. I would lose a few kilos, and then in joy of losing them, celebrate like crazy. And needless to say, those celebrations were nothing but giant carb parties. Occasionally, the carb fests would last for years, and the result would be those offending kilos creeping up again plus some extra weight for company. However, my recent weight problem started after I stopped feeding the baby, but didn’t stop eating as if I was feeding triplets. When I look  back at my food consumption, I am surprised that I didn’t put on more weight instead of the meager twenty kilos.

 

For me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when we went to Lahore to spend Eid-ul-Adha with my husband’s family last year. We reached Lahore three days before Eid, and the next day I started shopping for clothes. Well, everyone was outfitted except me. First of all, most major brands were out of my size which happened to be the largest in any maker. At Khaadi, they were pretty much out of everything in size 16. Again, not a problem because I ended up buying a fancy embroidered trouser in a beautiful cream color to pair with a pink and white semi-formal shirt that I already owned. The trouser was in size 16. I have another Khaadi trouser in the same size, and it fit me or so I thought. The shirt fit me, and was very, very pretty.

The day dawned nice and Sunny. When it was time to get ready, I showered and started to put on the trouser. Then the realization came that the trouser wasn’t co-operating, and refusing to ride up my behind, (sorry there’s no other, gentler way to put it). Well, let me tell you the battle that ensued in trying to force the wretched garment onto my person wasn’t pretty. I was rolling on the floor, trying to get that nasty monster on and doing my best not to make a single sound. Remember, it was my sister-in-law’s house, and not my sister’s where I wouldn’t have minded displaying my tattered dignity, and thrown a major  temper tantrum replete with water works. In this grand battle between person and pant, (I like to be politically correct), I  finally won. It goes without saying that I ended up wearing my abaya throughout the  day, even around the ladies because I was afraid the trouser was going to get back at me, and any moment I would hear the sound. You know the one that you hear when two pieces of fabric joined together by stitching part ways with force. I didn’t eat properly, and did my best to hold my stomach in. The whole day was so long and simply excruciating. I cannot describe the relief that I felt when I was in the privacy of the same battleground. This time due to practice and prior knowledge, I got rid of the enemy.

 

When I returned to Jeddah, I tried all my clothes that had previously looked amazing on me. It was devastating to learn that I was practically exploding out of most of them, as if I had stolen somebody else’s clothes. I wanted to start something in order to get back into some kind of shape, but was at a loss. Then the baby started pre-school at Saudi City Playschool, and I started walking around the compound for about 35-40 minutes a day. five days a week. Again, I wasn’t really  watching my food intake. However, at the end of two months I had lost two kilos. This was good, not amazing but not bad either. Gradually, I started  watching my food intake, and lost more weight. In April, it became too warm to walk outside, so I started going to the gym.  When we moved from Jeddah in early August, I had lost about 9 kilos.  Since then I have lost a couple more kilos. After the move, I gained two kilos, but with walking and watching my carb intake, I managed to lose the newly gained weight and then some. I think I am not unique in saying that stress makes us eat more. In times of sadness and tension, food is almost like a friend. Remember those Khaadi trousers,  they are not lose but definitely will be after a few more pounds. Skirts, dresses and turtlenecks are beginning to look pretty great on me.

 

What I would share with all my readers is that some exercise and controlling carbs can produce results, but patience and diligence is the key. Walking is excellent because even if it doesn’t induce weight loss, it’s very good for one’s heart and mental health. Also, be your own judge, what feels good to you. Any information someone else gives you, make sure you cross check it. Finally, never get discouraged and give up. Weight loss is a very long term project, and do not let small set backs bring you down. I have noticed that sometimes when you think you are losing weight, it’s devastating to realize that the weight is not budging. The key is to be persistent in any weight loss approach that you are utilizing. Finally, for me any elaborate weight loss routine couldn’t work because I like to keep things simple. These are the lessons I have learned from my experience, and I hope this can benefit others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEENAGERS, THOSE SHAPE SHIFTING ALIENS THAT SOME OF US HAVE AND SOME WILL HAVE IN THE FUTURE

“You don’t understand”

“I am 14 and you don’t get it”

“What’s wrong with going to the mall”

“All my friends are doing it or wearing it”, (real classic)

“Its okay to wear this to school”

“I asked auntie so and so and she said Islamically it’s alllowed”

“I am not being rude, it’s just the way I am”

“Why am I not being allowed to do this, give me  a reason”

“Well maybe it’s a bit on the shorter side, but it looks good on me” (well so would going au natural but that doesn’t mean we should)

“I’ll do it in 5 minutes”(on multiple occasions those elusive 5 minutes remain, you got it, elusive)

“You asked like a gazillion times, and I will do it”, ( Its technically not feasible Einstein. I’d much rather undertake the offending task myself because saying something a gazillion times is a herculean chore and quite simply impossible)

“I know I am right”

“____________’s parents are so mean, they don’t allow him or her to do anything”, (this  is a psychological tactic meant to obtaining whatever is their desire du jour by shaming)

“I asked your permission, and you said yes”, (never mind the fact that you don’t ever recall agreeing to anything. They have a trick here too, they catch you when you are at your most vulnerable, and are temporarily unavailable to the world, and would agree to just about anything short of cannibalism).

Blessed are the parents who’ve never heard any of these heated and passionate proclamations. I remember the golden and simple times when my teenagers were little, and all I had to worry about was the latest gymboree or gap outfit, read to them, feed them, teach them manners, help them brush teeth and tuck them in for the night. However, if those times were comparable to an unending, soft Summer breeze or a pleasant fall morning, now it’s more like a category 5 hurricane. Their demands are relentless and ruthless.  They are merciless in their judgment of adults, they want answers and explanations for everything. They are always the wronged party even if you catch them with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar.

Honestly, there are days when I seriously think they are aliens from another planet because they are ever evolving and very scary to deal with. Occasionally, I have resisted the urge to simply elope from home, assume another identity and live peacefully ever after. However that’s a pipe dream because remember they are aliens with super-natural powers , they’ll use those amazing powers to find me  anywhere on earth.

While it is difficult to deal with them, one fact I would like  to point out is that the times we are living in are unlike any other, and the challenges we are facing in raising our kids are also very, very unique. The most prominent of these challenges is the internet. The easy and cheap access to the internet,  and the tremendous amount and variety of information available at finger tips cannot be quantified, and the dangers posed by this limitless data cannot be overstated enough. For example, there are numerous platforms for connecting with others in a multitude of ways, aka social media outlets. These social media outlets provide a real window to outsiders, living in faraway places, in our lives. Personally, I am not fond of these because I feel they can be very  intrusive in the best of circumstances, and downright dangerous in the worst situations. But  most teenagers love to share practically every aspect of their waking life with others like them, notice how I said them, (brings home the alien concept nicely, doesn’t it).

Now I am going to steer away from the internet topic a bit, but we’ll touch on it later. I am noticing a very troubling trend, and it is straight from one of “them”. What my daughter tells me about  her friends and friends’ friends is that when teenagers feel they are being denied the right to do their heart’s bidding, they are finding  ways to achieve their goals in  all sorts of clandestine manners. And any parent who thinks these forces of nature can be stopped in their tracks, I’d like for them to solve the minor problem of world peace. Kids have been hiding things from their parents for an eternity.  In  my opinion,  ongoing minor and  hidden acts of rebellion eventually lead to major acts which in turn create a major ideological divide between parents and the children. And one day, the unsuspecting parent is faced with the devastating realization that they don’t know this person.

One example, a young girl who doesn’t want to wear a scarf will wear it to school but take it off when she reaches the school. Later, she might decide to do other things without telling her parents, and the list goes on. The way I see it, it’s not a simple matter, but that’s not the real problem. Eventually, it will lead to a personality that becomes adapt and even expert at deception. And in my opinion, this deceptive personality is by far the worst of the damage, damage that will last over a life time. And that’s a how we end up with these perfect, well-groomed, well-mannered yes men and women in front of moms, dads, friends and relatives but entirely different people with different values in front of friends.

The way I am learning to deal with this is I pick my battles. As they say, not every hill is worth dying on and not every battle is worth fighting. A give and take has been established between me and my kids. And this is what I would tell any parent, develop a relationship with your teenager because they are at a very delicate junction that hovers between adulthood and childhood. It is very simple to  tell your child the right and the wrong, but it’s not the way this works in their world. Telling them to stop doing  something from the “religious” perspective, or the “right thing” perspective or the classic, “you are not doing this because I said so”, (although I hope to God no sane parent is using the last one) simply does not work.  And let me share something else, when obedience is won by anger or force, the expiration date on their compliance lasts as long as the eye contact.

The rules of the game have changed. Twenty or thirty years ago, we could physically restrict  their movements and achieve some results.  Now everything is inside our home, the devil is everywhere so to speak. There are ways to deals with this, and trust me restricting their phones, internet access, and television viewing will not get much accomplished. The “restrict everything”  tactic will only work if you throw them in the dungeon and lose the key.  They do go to school, and  have friends who in turn will likely have the smart phones and the net access that you denied your child. Think about it, it’s like you are trying to avoid a communicable disease but constantly coming into physical contact with it. One way to get them to kind of submit to some of your smart phone, net and television rules is to have no offending devices at all, if you can manage to tear yourself away from them. Again what we’d like to do, and what we can do are two entirely things. Even in my own home we have not been able to get rid of the devices, not that we have even tried. Our home is practically a one stop shop for used apple devices.

What I have managed to achieve is to have a comfortable relationship with my kids, which entails allowing them certain latitudes despite my dislike for those allowances. However, there are times when I will put my foot down and issue an absolute, unequivocal no. It does produce some severely unpleasant weather. Since these nays are few and far between, there’s no changing them.. Now I can comfortably say that I know pretty much everything that’s going in with my kids’ lives, but that might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Only request/advice I would have for the parent of  a teenager is to reach out to them, engage them. Whichever approach a parent takes, I don’t see any route not going through the hearts  that will reach the mind. Only by making them feel comfortable, accepted and loved can can we start the dialogue with them.

 

DOHA AND MY TWO KHAADI SHIRTS

I’d like to say hello to people kind enough to read this, this is my first blog post. Please bear with me, this will get interesting with practice.

Originally I wanted to share something a bit more staid, but for the first post I thought something on the lighter side might be better. Well, when we moved to Doha in August things got off to a rocky start. We thought we would end up in a house, but ended up in hotel ( a really nice one my husband kept reminding us, but still a hotel  was my retort). We would try desperately try to find  things that reminded us of Pakistan, (we moved here from Jeddah which is essentially like a mini Pakistan anyway, you can hardly move  a few feet without finding Pakistani items or people, even the dirt on the roads is similar to Pakistan and in ample supply along with the bugs that could just as easily have been directly imported from Pakistan such as the beige colored lizards or the huge cock roaches that seem to bring out the screams in teenage girls or the endless supply of ants). Milk shortage drove me nuts, and literally day and night I missed the 2 litre bottles of Al-Marai that I would ask my driver to buy and at that point in time seemed very minute.  However, when I had to contend with Iranian milk, Turkish milk, British milk at prices that could have purchased gold in cheaper times, I was not pleased. Plus I am extremely particular about the taste of my tea and the long life milk wasn’t cutting it. Actually, at that time not much was cutting it for me in Doha. I missed Aslam, our driver of four years who practically did all the outside work for us, I missed my apartment, my friends, Mecca and Medina, I missed my life. The one time I just about screamed in excitement  was when I spotted a soon-to-open Khaadi sign in Doha Festival City. For those of you who are not Pakistani,  Khaadi is a nice, upscale clothing brand based in Pakistan. But just like a first born that goes over its due date, that Khaadi shop wasn’t opening and anticipation was excruciating . I would go again and again and no Khaadi. One day, it opened, finally.

Well, I went there last week and  purchased two short shirts after much pondering because even though short shirts have been in fashion since last year, I was hesitant due to some extra pounds that I haven’t managed to shake off after I stopped breastfeeding, (even though I stopped feeding the baby I couldn’t stop eating  as if I was still on a feeding routine. Although its impossible and bone draining, I have wished on occasion that breastfeeding could be done indefinitely). Well anyway, one shirt is straight, red and looks cute-ish (as my 15 year old daughter would put it) but the neck line is something else. It’s the other one that is my undoing, its A-line and goes up to my knees and fully closed on the sides. It is as if a giant sponge is carrying a television on its head, it squashes my height, makes me appear about twenty pounds heavier than I am, and it makes my waste line appear as wide as a sumo wrestler’s.   I am never wearing this shirt in public, only in the privacy of my room by myself will I put on this hideous monument to my own stupidity. Furthermore,  I have decided that this was the last time I saluted the latest fashion trend, never again. I was made for long shirts and no short shirts ever again. I think time will dull the psychological trauma of  the frock shirt.