Category Archives: Boat

Look up

anonymous-376540_1280On a recent visit to the gym, I noticed a new gym member. She was noticeable because she was almost inside the locker while changing into her gym wear, and she walked around the gym with her head down and her hair covering her face. I instantly recognized myself in her.

Like her, I used to walk around the gym looking at the floor. I avoided eye contact with others, I refused to look at the ceiling-to-floor mirrors, and when I stepped on the scale, I made sure there was no one close by. I used to change into my gym clothes while still wearing my office shirt. I was carrying extra weight (a lot of it), I was embarrassed and worried that the fit and slim gym goers would think I did not deserve to be in the same room as them, and I did not want anyone to notice me until I reached my ideal weight.  I don’t know if this woman’s reasons are the same as mine but I’m willing to bet that they’re not that different.

It took more than a few trips to the gym before I peeled my eyes off the carpet. It could have been the constant cheerful greetings from the gym staff, or the small helpful gestures and encouraging words from fellow gym patrons, or the sense of pride that slowly swelled in me every time I stepped inside the gym, but one day, I looked up. Then I looked around me. Then I smiled at the lady struggling with the leg curl and later asked a beefed up stranger to teach me how to use the rowing machine. Then, I looked at a mirror and noticed the promising outlines of my biceps. I remember thinking, “Why didn’t I look up much earlier?”

I wasted a lot of time worrying about what others thought of me, when in fact my fellow gym users were too focused on themselves and their workouts to even notice me, much less judge me. Contrary to my fears, those who noticed were supportive and helpful to insecure beginners like me who had no clue how to use exercise machines or do squats properly and safely. Many of them were once overweight and beginners themselves. Not once did I encounter anyone who laughed at me, at least not openly. And, forget about being invisible – if you are the only one who goes around the gym obsessed with the parquet flooring or who changes into your sports wear while fully clothed in your business outfit, you will be noticed. 

Maple leaves by the roadside

Maple leaves by the roadside

I’m not saying you shouldn’t look down once in a while. You don’t want to trip while walking, do you? And sometimes you’d find art on your pavement.






But most of the time, all you see is asphalt, a gray brownish sidewalk, or just plain old dirt.











Now, when I run I’d rather see this:

Fishing boats

Fishing boats

Wouldn’t you? So, the next time you are feeling insecure and feel your head bowing down, look up. The view is usually so much better. And, more importantly, you (yes, you) deserve to be seen, to walk around with your head high, to be confident, because regardless of how you look, or how imperfect you feel, or how small you think you may be, you are not; you are awesome.

Look up.


Thank you Doc!



I’ve been watching old episodes of Doctor Who (I’ve now been acquainted with the Fifth Doctor), who (in case you don’t know who I am talking about) is not a medical doctor. But the “Doctor” in Doctor Who led me to think about my doctors, mainly my GP and my endo, and their nurses and other staff.

I’m truly grateful for having a good medical team. Members of my team are more than just issuers of  metformin prescriptions or overseers of medical checks. They are part of my control over Type 2 diabetes and my health in general.

Mind you, they are not perfect, but they are as close to a dream team as I could hope for. For one, they talk to me. I mean, they actually ask me pertinent questions and listen to my answers, my difficulties, my complaints, and my little triumphs in living with a chronic condition.  They explain the results of my tests. They tell me what they think we should do if they are not happy with the results. They voice out their concerns and listen to mine.

They may never completely understand what I go through everyday, but they try. They even remind me to be more mindful of my diet during the holidays, and gently tell me not to be too harsh on myself if I slip up during December’s almost endless bonenkai (“forget the year” parties, Japan’s version of countless Christmas parties). They tell me not to quit running. They remind me to drink water and to avoid sweets, rice and noodles.

They do not know all the answers or pretend that they do, but they find out for me. They acknowledge that I would know more about my diabetes than they would ever know, let me decide the direction of my diabetes treatment and support my decisions. They trust my judgment, and I trust theirs.

They assuage my fears. They try their best to help me navigate through the pitfalls and challenges of my condition. They prop me up by reviewing my history to show me how far we’ve come.

They make me feel like they are taking this life-long medical journey with me.

Thank you.