thanks for the cheer

Cherries in a plastic basket.
Hazelnut ice-cream.
Dark chocolate.
A phone call.
Text messages.
A banana muffin.
Email how-are-you’s.
Triple grande hazelnut lattes.
Promises of fruit tarts & pies from Oz.

I was encouraged by the many ways friends reached out to me, yes, even by the notes you left behind, dear readers. It gave me that little surge of power to continue on this leg of race called September. Your cheers yelled out, ‘You’re precious! You can do it!’

I can and I will.

Thank you for the pom-poms and dance. It meant a lot to me.


I’d ignored the weighing scale in the gym’s locker room for the past one week but today, I couldn’t resist. I took off my sneakers and climbed on.

‘What?!’ I cursed under my breath. The scale told me that I’d added another 1.5 kilos since the start of my intensive training. Don’t tell me it’s muscle! The tight jeans beg to differ and seriously, this weight issue is starting to grate on my nerves. Gah!

My overflowing closet continues to mock me every morning I choose to wear something. You see, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I have gotten chubbier. 7.5 kilos in fact. This is NOT good.

Sulking, I nursed a bottle of water as I stared at my thighs. I contemplated returning out to the gym. Maybe I could run off half a kilo on the treadmill? Nah… My legs were already trembling from the crazy walk-lunges I did with weights. Any more and I would probably crumble in a heap at the foot of the machine.

It’s tough enough, walking into a gym. People there like to watch you as you do your workouts. I don’t get that. Why are they so unabashed in observing me sweat it out? The first time it happened, I thought it was my imagination.

‘Why are they seated around me, watching us?’ I whispered to Flex.

‘They’re cashing in on your lesson,’ he chuckled. ‘You paid for me to train you, and they, being free-loaders, are seeing if they can get any tips. I call it monkey-see-monkey-do.’

‘I want them to disappear,’ I managed to grunt as I hoisted myself up from the floor.

‘Wipe your sweat,’ he said before leading me to yet another metal machine. I took no offense. I perspire a lot and at the end of each session, am usually drenched. It’s embarrassing but what the hell… there’s no one at the gym to impress.

I’ve been working out at the gym for about a week and I must say, gym culture is very interesting. This is my first foray into the world of the body-beautiful and so far, I’ve already noticed a few regulars.

There’s the Indian girl who’s always on the treadmill. She runs with an amazing swivel-motion to her hips and I wonder if her knees hurt. It’s almost unnatural, as is her dedication to her goal – which I’m assuming is weight loss.

Then there’s Swing Lady – a petite, toned and limber female who swings on the rings in what looks like child’s play. Except that she’s always with a trainer too, so I’m guessing it’s actually exercise.

I’m just glad no one likes the Summit Climber. Each time I enter the gym, I head straight there. Being goal-oriented, I know why I sacrifice time to enter the sweaty place: I am training to climb up to the Annapurna Base Camp in one piece. Hopefully, with a smile.

The ticket is purchased and travel plans firmed. Now all I need is the right equipment to help get me up there without dying. First thing was the shoes. I did some research and nearly gagged at the trekking footwear they categorized as ‘stylish’. It was all very blah. Well, at least it’ll blend in with the mud I will undoubtedly encounter.

We’re traveling there during the final weeks of the monsoon season.

‘The good news is that you won’t see leeches!’ an experienced friend exclaimed.

‘What?! Leeches? Wait… are there insects on this trail?’ I asked.

‘Of course! That’s why you need to remember to keep all your bags tightly sealed. You don’t want them climbing in…’ she laughed. I didn’t.

‘What else do I need for this trek?’ I was starting to get a teensy weensy bit worried.

‘Get a walking stick, or walking poles. You will need them because on your first day there, the one thing you’ll be asking yourself is why. Why did you pay so much to suffer this torture? But after that, the view will be worth every bit of pain,’ she said.

‘Pain? I don’t want pain…’ I whined a little.

‘You have three weeks to train… that’s erm, very short to get appropriately fit. You are fit, right?’

‘Well…’ I smiled. I didn’t dare answer her. In my mind though, I began calculating how many hours I could put in on the Summit Climber.

‘I can’t help you with the altitude but if you work on this machine and can complete an hour, you’ll be in good shape,’ Flex told me on our introductory tour around the gym. Since then, I’ve managed to work up from ten measly minutes to 30. It’s sheer torture though.

‘I get bored…’ I confided in him. ‘What’s there to take my attention away while I climb the steps?’ I asked.

‘Think about how wonderful the mountain will be,’ he answered.

Right. That is NOT going to help me one bit. Maybe it’s time to be annoying and start observing the other people who work out at the gym. I guess I can conjure up stories about them…

Watch out gym rats.

The story-teller is let loose.