The entity that has somehow attached himself to my midsection in recent years. The flab that shrouds my six-pack abs. Thanks to Nalani’s sister, my unflattering tummy will not go the way of nameless, unsung fat. It has been christened with a name, and quite a manly one too: Bogart.
In the beginning though, there was no Bogart. I was reed-thin for the longest time, my bones making their presence obvious wherever they could. Fearing my malnourishment, my mother saw to it that I got my daily dose of appetite-inducers, from Nutroplex to Flinstones chewables, to whatever the pediatrician recommended or the concerned mother on TV ads gave her underweight child. Once my father imposed that I first gain ten pounds before he’d let me go to summer camp. In college I wore loose shirts to hide my bony elbows and pronounced collar bones.
That was light years ago.
Today, I play host to Bogart. I wouldn’t have minded growing a belly with a nickname if not for (well-)mean(ing) friends who make sure I know they notice the rotund protrusion. And the media’s ubiquitous images of guys with flat, washboard abs aren’t helping me feel chummy with my tummy either.
Eventually, I had to come face to face with the Bogart issue. If my friends got 100 pesos for each time I declared, “I’m going to the gym, for real,” or “OK, say goodbye to Bogart now because he’s about to disappear,” they’d have enough capital for a sari-sari store. I really can’t blame them when they roll their eyes or let out an evil laugh upon hearing my resolution to lose the bulge; after all, the view from my side shows that Bogart is still alive, rounder, and well.
But, lately, there’s been a more compelling reason—besides gaining extra pogi points—to deal with Bogart. My recent physical exam revealed “impaired fasting glucose,” which means my sugar level after an overnight fast is higher than normal, but still lesser than the value for diabetes. This condition, I’ve Googled, has also been called “prediabetes” in recent years. Experts warn that if prediabetics don’t shift to a more active and healthy lifestyle, chances are high of developing full-blown Type II Diabetes in the next ten years.
My doctor’s scribbled advice: Weight loss. Low carb and fat diet. Exercise. Hmm, that sounds just like my father. He should know—he’s had diabetes for over 20 years. “Watch your weight,” he has told me countless times. “You’re a very likely candidate for diabetes, but you can delay or even avoid it with enough exercise and proper diet.”
Unfortunately, warnings like that never quite penetrate the proud ears of youth. So for years I ate all the cholesterol I could fork (including those on my lunch mates’ plates.) With abandon, I gave in to all the sweet temptations of carbohydrates that came my way. I slumped in front of the TV or hunched over the computer instead of running or playing sports. I took the cab. I overslept…
Although I never smoked or drank alcohol, I realize now that I had (and still have, until proven otherwise) a deadly vice: Neglect.
I’m now convinced that Bogart has got to go, or at least get downgraded to Mini-Bogart. I need to shed the ten pounds that all the height-weight charts on the worldwide web (I checked them all!) say I have in excess. To do that, I have to start adjusting my criteria for food—from what tastes good to what is good for my body. I need to get more active. Abandon the sedentary life. Walk more. Take the stairs. Jog. Exercise. Go malling. (That last one was an actual advice on one of the websites—and it’s my favorite.)
Last weekend I started to jog again. One night I met with friends at UP Diliman, and I persuaded them to walk the entire length of the University Ave. I had veggies for lunch yesterday, tuna for dinner the day before, and… pork barbecue last night—hey, balanced diet, hello? Okay, changes like these need more than a little getting used to.
I know I still have a very long way to go before Bogart’s despedida. I’m not even sure if I can lose him entirely (he strikes me as a stubborn chap). But really, what’s more important is to get healthier, be a better steward of my physical shell, so that the my Master can do what He pleases with this body, this life and its numbered days.
Hey, if and when Bogart does disappear completely, someone should name the new flat stomach he leaves behind (oh what optimism!). I think that’s better than getting a tattoo right above my navel that reads…
Bogart was here.