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

Copyright © 2021, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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STRANGE ENCOUNTERS

Have you ever had a random encounter where you walked away thinking “What the fudge just happened?”

Like it was so surreal, you couldn’t possibly capture the essence of the encounter with words alone? That your words simply wouldn’t do it justice?

I had such an encounter. I won’t be able to reproduce the scene with great accuracy, but I think you’ll get the gist. Bear with me while I narrate my bizarro experience.


We were sitting outside of a café soaking in the sun’s warmth as we sipped our hot drinks and ate our pastries. We were on a short holiday at a seaside town on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria, Australia.

An old man walked by and tapped my husband on the shoulder.

“Excuse me young man, could you watch over these while I get a trolley?”

My husband offered to carry the box of plastic hangers to where the man needed but the man declined. The old man needed the trolley for support while he walked several blocks towards his house and didn’t want to inconvenience my husband.

After retrieving a trolley from the nearby supermarket, the old man thanked my husband. Shortly after, the existence of two children and a woman suddenly became apparent to him. Gesturing to me, the old man told my husband that he had a pretty wife.

“You’re very pretty. Where do you come from?”

Knowing that he didn’t mean where I lived in Melbourne, I replied that I was Vietnamese even though technically, I considered myself Australian. But I knew he didn’t mean any offence and was curious about my heritage.

“Did you meet your pretty wife in Vietnam?”

My husband explained that we met as students while in University some twenty years ago.

“What do you do? How much do you make? 80K, 100K? Where do you live? Are you rich? You must be to have such a beautiful wife. I’m not saying you’re ugly. You’re a good-looking bloke yourself.”

He might as well have asked if I was a mail-order bride or a gold digger.

Turning to me, he asked if I had been in Australia long. It must have confused him hearing me speak English without an accent.

“I was born in Australia.” 

The conversation was ridiculous, but I wasn’t offended by his assumptions, just amused. He must not have met many Australian-born Asians.

“Have you got a friend you can introduce to me? My wife died of breast cancer decades ago. I’ve been alone for you wouldn’t believe how long.”

Bah! How do you respond to that?! After laughing awkwardly, I replied with no.

“How old do you think I am? Guess. Take a stab.”

If this wasn’t a loaded question… My husband said 78 while I said 68 to be safe.

“I’m 73 years old. I walk every day and go for a swim first thing when the water is cold. Asian women don’t really like going into the water. They don’t like wearing bikinis and getting into the sea, do they?”

“You look like you’re in your forties,” he said, looking at me.

Now, this when I felt offended. I didn’t care too much about his stereotyping of Asian women or his suggestion that my husband had scored a mail-order bride.

No, I was offended that he thought I was in my forties. I’m still two years off my forties thank you very much! Seriously, it’s a universal faux pas to even hint at a woman’s age. Old age must have addled this poor man’s brain. That’s the ONLY explanation for why he thought I was older than my years!

“Do you want to come to my house for beer? I live just a street away. Are you sure you don’t have a lady friend like you to introduce to me?”


The poor man was lonely and just wanted to have a yarn – I could understand that. While I have a soft spot for the elderly and usually didn’t mind humouring people, we did have to be somewhere. So we ended the conversation and parted ways.

When I’m a dotty old lady and craving companionship and conversation, I wonder if young people will spare a moment to indulge me?

If they do, I’ll be sure to keep my opinions to myself… especially when it comes to a woman’s age.

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IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS

Mothers. They always think they know better. Why is that? I’m almost forty-years-old, and my mother still thinks she can boss me around. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t visit my parents as often as I should. Every time I see my mother, it inevitably ends in arguments. It doesn’t help that we have a dysfunctional relationship. But I try for the sake of my children. I want them to have a relationship with their grandparents and by extension, have a link to their Vietnamese culture.

So on New Year’s Day, our family drove over to my parent’s place for a barbecue lunch. The plan was for my husband to leave afterwards and for the rest of us to stay overnight. My husband would get a small reprieve, and the children would get some quality time with their grandparents. I would get a headache, but it was a small sacrifice for everyone else.

As my mother over-caters for every occasion and has no reason or rhyme to anything she does, I suggested she organise drinks, bread and chicken wings, while I organised salads and barbecue meats. With only four adults and two children, we didn’t need too much food.

We arrived mid-morning to find a box of squid and a bowl of prawns defrosting on the kitchen counter. Next to them were a bowl of marinated chicken wings and a plate of enoki mushrooms and cabbages. On the stove top, a pot of chicken stock was on the boil as my mother was preparing rice paper rolls.

“I got the kids fried chicken drumsticks so they don’t get hungry waiting for the barbecue,” she said, pointing to a takeaway container filled with chicken from the nearby chicken shop.

There was no point arguing with my mother when her mind was set on something so I let it slide to focus on getting her to put away the excess food into the fridge.

“Uh, you might want to see what your dad’s doing with the barbecue.” My husband nudged me towards the backyard to investigate.

My dad was burning charcoal briquettes on a metal cooling rack on the stove top before dumping them into a miniature Weber Smokey Joe.

“Dad, do you have any fire lighters?” This man was a hoarder. He should have had a box of fire lighters somewhere among the junk in his garage.

“Nah, this will work just fine,” replied my dad, as he grabbed the leaf blower and started airing the briquettes in the barbecue.

KN J Tales and Snippets

We left him alone to deal with the barbecue and prayed the fire brigade wouldn’t be needed for any wayward fire sparks.

By the time the food was ready, the children were full from all their earlier “snacks”. My mum refused to eat as 1 pm was “too early” for her. It was up to my husband, my dad and I to eat the half kilo of barbecued lamb meat, sausages and salads.

Just as we were about done, my mum brought out the chicken wings, corn and sweet potato to go on the barbecue.

“Everyone is full! Why are you cooking more food?!” I exclaimed in horror. There were already enough leftovers to last for days. I didn’t relish the idea of eating barbecue leftovers for three days straight.

“People might get hungry later. Might as well cook it!”

She was wrong. No one was going to be hungry later. This always happened. In fact, I’d go as far as to say she never learns from her mistakes.

My husband left to avoid witnessing further chaos and my dad sat down with the children to teach them how to play Dominoes.

“You have to strategise. Think about what everyone might have. Think about what you need to play to win! Okay?!”

The children have a hard time understanding my dad’s broken English most of the time, so they look to me for translations. I usually tell them what I think he’s trying to say in a more tactful and children friendly way.

My dad proceeded to lose every single game to my four-year-old son. I’d wager he was actually trying to win too! It was rather embarrassing to watch a grown man lose to a child who had just learnt how to play Dominoes.

That night, my son and I slept in my brother’s old room on his double bed. My daughter didn’t want to be squished between us, so she decided to sleep with my mother. My parents have separate rooms.

At half past three in the morning, my daughter crawled back into bed with us. My mother had sent my daughter off running with her loud snoring, so I ended up sleeping at the bottom of the bed with my body half hanging off. It was a sleepless night for everyone.

At half past six, my children woke and were sent to my dad’s room to watch TV. My dad was already up and preparing them breakfast. I rolled out half an hour later to see them with a bowl of salted air-fried potato fries on their laps.

“Why did you feed the kids fries for breakfast?!” I couldn’t believe my dad thought fries were an appropriate breakfast option for children.

“It’s fine. It’s a sometimes food.”

The deed was done. I couldn’t do anything about it, so I gathered the children to the kitchen to make them something healthier to eat.

As I was making my children a second breakfast, my mother thought it prudent to give me parenting advice on how to “fix” my naughty four-year-old son. She claimed the only reason my eight-year-old daughter was well-behaved and well-mannered was because of her.

My mother suggested my parenting choices and skills were to blame for my son’s unruly behaviour and offered to correct this. I just needed to drop him off for a short stay and she’d get him sorted out in a few weeks.

What really got my goat was her stating in a matter-of-fact way that my son was “naughty” because he was half-White and if I didn’t “reign” him in, he’ll likely become a druggie or a social degenerate.

I cracked the sh!ts. Obviously.

“Why are you so angry? It’s the truth!” reasoned my mother. My dad tried stepping into the argument but got shot down when he sided with my mother.

My parents insisted they “knew better” because they were elders and had the life experience to show for it. They didn’t realise their deep-rooted beliefs were shrouded in racism and bigotry. While I could ignore her criticisms about my parenting style, I refused to accept blatant racism against her own grandchild. It was a hard limit for me.

After schooling my parents on their social prejudices, I took my children and left in a huff. Luckily, the argument was in Vietnamese so while the children could tell we were arguing and I was upset, they didn’t know the reason. I didn’t want them to know that their grandmother was an ignorant racist. I didn’t want to ruin their relationship.

I haven’t spoken or seen my parents since New Year’s Day. While I still love my mother, I simply can’t be around her. I am just too angry. So for now, I’ll avoid her until I feel balanced enough to face her.

I can’t change my mother’s beliefs, only she is capable of doing that. And if she isn’t receptive to having open discussions where her worldview and beliefs are challenged, then that’s on her. BUT, I have control over whether or not I choose to listen to her biases. I can also limit my children’s exposure to that kind of damage.

Not all parents know better, some are ignorant fools that will never change.

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