Lim: Strong again

MY life has changed somewhat this year. Now, I’m at the hospital three times a week. After a malignant cyst was found in my body, it occurred to me that I did not want to wait one moment longer to live the best life possible.

If God saw it fit to spare my life, I should give whatever years I have left, my best shot.

I suddenly see this vision of my 18-year-old self—my physically strong-as-a-horse 18-year old self. I decide to return to the gym and to a lifestyle I had long abandoned for a host of reasons I no longer what to talk about—in the same manner I no longer want to speak of a bad break-up.

The last time I had been to the gym was eight years before. And that brief return was prompted by a remark my dear brother said to my sister when he saw me after a four-week expedition in South America. “She said she hated the food there but she’s so fat, she actually looks pregnant.”

“He said what?” I shrieked. I was horrified. But I had to face the fact that I had gained 30 pounds. No, not in four weeks but I suppose, since the last time my brother saw me. I was 135 pounds. Now, don’t judge. My adult weight had stayed at 106 until my late thirties. So 135 was practically obscene.

My brother’s remark galvanized me into action. I hit the gym. I went on a diet. I lost 20 pounds and kept it away in the last 8 years. But after losing the weight, I quit going to the gym and returned to my sedentary lifestyle.

But really, I can’t complain. Life has mostly been kind to me and my body. Except for that one incident, I never really had to go on a diet to lose weight. Despite having a huge appetite, I’ve never been close to obese.

I used to lead an active lifestyle. I was a gym rat for decades. I was 14 when I started going to the gym. Gym wasn’t in vogue yet. Oh no. Not 40 years ago. A friend invited me to join her in this jazz class. I liked dancing so I thought, why not? It turned out to be some dance-exercise class—and what would eventually be called group exercise classes.

This gym also offered martial-arts classes. I decided to get into martial arts as well. I remember my instructor telling me that we are at our strongest at 18. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. Now that I’m no longer 18, I completely understand. These days, when I look at the bodies of 18-year-old athletes, I sigh and grieve over my lost abs.

Fast forward to 2017. I had never felt more physically weak than post-surgery. I couldn’t understand what was going on in my body but I was determined to work on becoming physically strong again—not as strong as pre-surgery but stronger and better than pre-surgery.

And that’s how I’m at the hospital three times a week—working out at the hospital rehab unit under the supervision of professionals who will, no doubt, make me strong as a horse again.