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The unbearable weight of being

By: Tanja Wessels Posted: November-10-2009 in
Tanja Wessels

Travel and new environments bring with them many new experiences, knowledge and memories. And extra weight- of the personal variety. When will we learn that a holiday itinerary does not equate a passport to an unlimited kingdom of calories?

I have been away for a while. Alright, a while may be a bit of an understatement. I have been away for long enough to wonder if my landlady will recognize me upon my return and to meet babies now graduating from breast milk to solid foods, when the last time I saw them they were still lovingly referred to as ‘the bump’. Next time you find yourself abroad reading an email from a friend in Cambodia stating that ‘not much has changed’ bear in mind my experience.

Having returned from my travels with a great number of more photo files on my digital camera and many family hours clocked up in the memory banks, I have also finally concluded something a little less than welcome when it comes to travel. Digital photo files and life experiences are not the only things to increase during my time away. World experiences and curiosity are not the only expanse in my universe. I have physically grown too – in a horizontal sense.

I have expanded.

The part of me that believes that when the surrounding geography changes, so does our body’s ability to process kilojoules needs a serious talking to. Why all self-discipline flies out the window when in a new location is a beyond me. I normally react to butter like one would to a child’s soiled nappy. Put me on a wine estate and my bread can barely be seen under the skyscraper of butter balancing on it. Later, in an environment of a tropical nature, as the waiter walked away with an order for two Pina Coladas, I remember telling my sister “when you order cocktails at lunch you know you have thrown the towel in”. The uncomfortable resignation on her face confirmed my admission.

I would be interested to learn what type of merit one needs to accumulate in this lifetime in order to come back with the metabolism of a racehorse in the next. Some people want to come back as film stars or Nobel Laureates. I just want to have a metabolism that means you don’t have to spend hours reflecting on the bag of Maltesers consumed last week. Not an unreasonable request in my mind.

Too old to pretend that embarking on another insane random fad diet is a good idea, all that remains is to be sensible about it all (This from the woman who orders creamy cocktails at lunch- I know). The answer is, as we all know- move more, eat less. And with the return to life in the Cambodian capital all excuses are nil and void.

I marched myself to the nearest gym before the stamp in my passport had a chance to dry- completely prepared for the ‘punishment’ a long period of unlimited self-access to cheese brings with it. And punishment feels more effective when delivered promptly.

Only the punishment has turned out to be less severe than anticipated.

The Place feels about as ‘gym like’ as Christmas in a tropical country. In other parts of the world this would be called a Nightclub. All shiny and slick- if Gianni Versace had gym equipment in his sitting room, this it what it would look like. Some new Mac’s complete the I-am-not-at-the-gym feel and the view over Phnom Penh’s intergalactic traffic helps keep visual stimulation peaking.

I know I am not alone in this sentiment, when friends talk of The Place their eyes sparkle and their speech grows animated. Seems like not feeling like you are at a gym is the way to get people going to the gym. Go figure.

The Gym at The Place

user avatar Anonymous

Always a pleasure to read

Always a pleasure to read your column! And TOTALLY share the feeling! Keep it up, girl!
love always,
Marta Coruche.

user avatar Anonymous

Go Go Go

Just think the towel might be useful at the gym, girl,
don't throw it in just yet ; )


user avatar Anonymous

Tanja, so glad to see you've

Tanja, so glad to see you've returned to the keyboard. Look forward to your next column.

user avatar Anonymous

The Non-Gym

Hope the punishment is successful, at the non-gym!


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