WHY I HATE PUBLIC SWIMMING POOLS

I have a real aversion to public swimming pools. It’s not because I can’t swim and am worried the lifeguards will have trouble dragging my sorry ass out of the water. No, it’s a lot less dramatic than that.

The idea of accidentally swallowing a festy old band-aid or a wayward pubic hair or people’s skin follicles makes me want to gag. Actually, I’ve just vomited a bit in my mouth as I type this – that’s how much I don’t like public pools.

Close your mouth! Why are you even drinking pool water?! I hear you yell out.

No one WANTS to make a liquid lunch out of disgusting bodily offcuts from randos but it HAPPENS. Let’s not forget about the dirty gastro-causing germs, accidental (or not so accidental) pee from kids and adults alike, and other bodily fluids that are excreted from people. Oh gosh, please wait while I dry retch a bit more.

Chlorine kills everything!

My husband likes to tell me this every time I complain about germs. I might be a bit of a germaphobe.

Look, here are the cold hard facts – I know the chances of contracting tinea from the change rooms are more likely than catching germs from pool water. BUT, chlorine does not kill everything so there’s still the risk of catching something like Giardia and I don’t want explosive diarrhoea.

Anyway, as you can see, I detest public swimming pools. But given how my children are learning how to swim and my daughter loves being in water, I have to go there. Once in a while, I have to enter the cesspool to supervise, and the experience leaves me feeling twitchy.

Yesterday, my husband suggested we take the children for a play at our local swimming centre. Our membership has restarted and there are no longer restrictions with numbers or needing to book sessions. It was a good opportunity to make use of our time and money.

As I sat by the sidelines and watched my husband splash around with the kids, I took a few moments to observe my surroundings.

Sometimes I wonder how it is that I come across so much fodder for my blog. Why does it feel like I bear witness to strange stuff all the time? Am I attuned to the weird and wonderful because I’m looking for it?

I must be ‘cos why else would I see a REALLY hairy man (Back and front, sides, legs… well, let’s just say everywhere!) wearing his CK undies in lieu of swimming trunks. If I could burn my retinas to remove the image of his manhood playing peekaboo through his wet transparent undies, I would. Add inappropriate swim gear to my list of ‘Why I hate public swimming pools’ please.

After shielding my precious eyes from further assault, I witnessed a fit looking, middle aged man standing by the pool steps doing quick calf muscle stretches, and arm stretches, lunges and running on the spot before getting into the water. I was expecting him to do epic laps up and down the lanes because why else would you go to such trouble? I know warming up your muscles is important to avoid cramps and injury but this man just got into the water to stand. He really confused my poor mind when he left after ten minutes of standing. What the? I tried really hard not to giggle. It was so funny to watch, much better than CK undies man.

An old lady holding some snorkels got into the pool after exercise man. I thought it was strange for her to wear her prescription glasses while trying to snorkel down the pool lane, but hey, whatever works for you lady!

As my attention reverted back to my daughter swimming nearby, two lifeguards decided to stand right in front of me, blocking my view. While staring at their backs (note: not backsides), I noticed they carried a lot of gear, along with a water bottle and a walkie-talkie. How could they save anyone if it takes them an age to strip off all that stuff? I hope never to test the hypothesis. One of the guards turned around and saw that he was blocking my view but instead of moving, he turned back and continued his boring conversation. How rude!

I left my seat to corral my daughter back to the others and found another seat. There I noticed a sign that read ‘No ball games or inflatables’. I looked back at the husband and children. Take a stab at what they were doing.

Can I add inadvertently condoning rule-breaking people to my list of ‘Why I hate public swimming pools’?

This list keeps growing at an alarming rate. It makes sense why I never bothered to learn how to swim. I know, I know, it’s a vital skill to have. I’ll get on it as soon as I overcome this aversion to public swimming pools.

In the meantime, it makes for great blog fodder, right?

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TIME HEALS OLD WOUNDS

When I was sixteen-years-old, I experienced a traumatic event. Instead of justice and support from the only person who knew about it – my mother – it was swept under the carpet and promptly forgotten. I won’t go into details of the trauma because reliving the moment isn’t what this post is about. It’s about the aftermath.

My mother never spoke about that day or even acknowledged something bad had happened to me. It never occurred to her that I would need or benefit from psychological treatment. Her lack of support and radio silence on the matter made me feel ashamed of myself. I was already a shy teenager with self-esteem issues and this trauma left me untrusting of others and disconnected to my peers.

The emotional trauma of the experience – the helplessness and fear – left long-lasting consequences that carried through into my adulthood.

I struggled to trust anyone and because of that, I refused to allow people in. I kept friends at an arm’s length. No one really knew me. Those who thought they did, saw the false façade I portrayed to the world.

People saw me as a confident, driven and outgoing girl but really, deep down I was a sad and broken person. I was steadfast in not letting anyone think I was a victim of circumstances. It was my way of hiding all the shame I felt inside.

A decade after that day, I finally got help at the behest of my husband. I sought psychological treatment, talked about the trauma and all the self-inflicted damage that resulted.

If it hadn’t been for my husband’s insistence, I would have likely continued on living but not really enjoying life. I would have struggled with unchecked depression and anxiety, continued to close myself off from family and friends and probably would have made for a dismal mother. Fortunately, I relearned how to trust again.

Last night, I had dinner with a girlfriend who has known me for twenty-two years. This person has known me since the day I arrived as a sixteen-year-old girl at her high school. While talking about the struggles her teenage son was experiencing, I told her about my trauma and how I wished my mother had stepped up and got me the help I needed back then. The story spilled from my mouth. I hadn’t thought twice about telling it.

She was shocked to discover a part of my life unknown to her. And to be honest, I was slightly shocked with how open and honest I was able to be about it.

At some point in my road to recovery, I had healed from the trauma. Unknowingly, I released myself from the shackles of shame and embarrassment. I no longer felt like a victim.

Time has healed some of these wounds but I think more importantly, having a safe space where I could talk to a trusted person helped immensely. I’m glad I accepted the help. I only wish I had done it sooner.

Is there something that’s weighing you down? Could you find the courage to reach out for help? It may be the turning point in your life, the step towards positive change. You’ll never know otherwise.

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ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER DIET

I’m on a diet. I’ve joined the millions of people who stuff their faces with food and alcohol during holiday festivities, feels guilty about the added kilos to the already expanding waistline and then declares that they’re serious about doing something about it. I know, I know, it’s such a clichéd New Year’s resolution.

But hear me out! This time I’m really serious. Yeah okay, roll your eyes people… get it out of the system. You’re probably thinking I’ll cave after a few weeks and regain all the lost weight after a binge-fest because that’s a typical result of fad diets.

This time I have a great incentive. No, it’s not to reduce my risk of familial diabetes, heart disease or high cholesterol. No, nothing that salubrious – I’m no saint. My little brother is getting married in April, and I don’t want to look like a heffer standing next to my skinny ass aunts and cousins. I don’t want snide remarks about my weight thrown in my face, which would probably happen with my extended family.

I’ve never been slim, leaning towards the heavier side for a typical Asian woman. Since marriage and having two children, I’ve gained about 15 kgs. Being five feet tall doesn’t help either. I’ve gone from a size 10 to a size 14 over the years and while I hold the weight well, I would feel happier losing a few kilos.

I could just buy a really good tummy tucking, thigh sucking, boob shrinking shapewear spanx to create an illusion of a slimmer silhouette. Add high heels, some make-up and Bob’s your uncle… a Cinderella transformation. But I fear the minute I tuck into my meal, things might go wrong.

There’s also my fear that once I’ve managed to get into some spanx, I might not be able to take it off. What if I needed to pee? Imagine being stuck in the loo and calling someone to find a pair of scissors to extract you? Imagine the mortification of leaving the toilet looking dumpier than when you went in?!

So I have no choice. I have to lose weight. I’m three weeks into this low-carb, low-fat, no-fun diet and I thought I’d share how I’ve fared.


DIET JOURNAL

Week One:
I started the diet a couple of days before New Year’s Day. I wish I hadn’t because instead of drinking and binge-eating on New Year’s, I had to be good. Good feels overrated at this point.

I refuse to medicate for the b$tch of a headache that won’t go away. I’m cranky, tired and need nana naps. It doesn’t help that I’ve cut caffeine from the diet. Why did I do that? Sucker for punishment, that’s me!

I’m hungry ALL the time. I go to bed hungry. I wake up hungry. My tummy rumbles a lot, but I do my best to ignore it.

I’ve switched to almond milk. It’s not too bad. I’m drinking roobois tea. Roi-what? Yeah, I have no idea what kind of hippy tea my husband’s got me drinking, but it’s better than nothing.

Week Two:
It’s finally sunk in. There won’t be anymore McDonald’s, UberEats, KFC, ice-cream or potato chips, just a lot of watching other people eating it.

But the good thing is that I no longer feel tired and headachey. I think my tummy has shrunk. My pants and skirts aren’t feeling so tight around the waist. I’m not so bloated anymore.

I bought a set of scales and surprise… I’ve lost two kilos. Or maybe I’m just dehydrated. Tough call.

Week Three:
I’m so over eggs and salad. I’m starting to crave starches in any form. The smell of bread has me salivating. The sight of potatoes in fried or roasted form makes me want to stuff my face and throw in the towel.

I bought Hot Flamin’ Cheetos and have them in the pantry just taunting me (Not sure why I did that!). I see the scales in the bathroom, and I don’t think I’ve hated anything more in this world but I can’t put it away (Not healthy, I know!).

I’ve had a few cheat meals but have kept my overall calorie intake low (I think). I’ve lost 3.5 kilos. I tried justifying to my husband that it should warrant a Cheetos binge. He didn’t agree.

I’ve got 13 weeks until the wedding and 11.5 kgs left to lose. You reckon I’ll make it? I bloody hope so cos I fully intend to binge the day after the wedding.


FOOD DIARY

Breakfast:
Scrambled eggs with sautéed mushrooms, spinach and cherry tomatoes
Banana
Fried eggs
Greek yoghurt
Sautéed spinach and capsicum with a sausage and fried egg
Half a baked avocado with an egg

Lunch:
Mixed salad with shredded carrot, cucumber, sun-dried tomatoes and chicken
Mixed salad with shredded carrot, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, tuna and a small amount of cheese
Caesar salad with no croutons and minimal dressing
Spinach with shredded carrot, cucumber and a small amount of low-fat feta

Dinner:
Cauliflower rice replaces all rice meals
Sliced zucchini replaces all pasta meals
No root vegetables except for carrots
Low-fat dairy products

Drinks:
Almond milk rooibos tea
Water

Snacks:
Any fruit
Sunflower seeds
Mixed nuts

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