body image

Holiday Blues

I have holiday blues. Yes, there’s such a thing. I Googled it.


Seriously though, I feel so blue tonight. I am pinning it down to these:

Over-scheduling (see previous post)
You see, I only have 2 weeks left in Japan which is why I’ve been really pushing myself to see and do everything. Also, to keep my blog fresh and up to date. Because I truly enjoy it, it is my passion and of course to keep with my hot-shot writing dreams. However, amidst all the hustle and bustle and adventuring, I seem to have forgotten I’m not superhuman. I am exhausted. But here’s the problem. It’s not like I have anything else. I do a bit of free-lancing here and there but it’s not enough to occupy an entire day. And I know you all wish you didn’t have to work a 9-5 day and/or look after your needy significant other and/or rowdy children so that you could have even a spare moment to read a novel, go for a run, drink a coffee in silence, paint your nails etc but I swear, human wiring comes with the disease of always always wanting what we don’t have.

Holiday food
My general diet for the past year and half of Japan life has been a challenge. You can read about it here. Or in short, it’s been challenging learning to shop, cook and eat for one. I miss sitting around a table and eating with others. When I do eat with others here, it’s usually eating out. Which is exciting yes, and I feel should be done cos like when else am I gonna be in JAPAN to eat this authentic soba?! But at the same time, it’s not the healthiest. And even though I try to choose the healthiest menu items and exercise everyday (sometimes walking or cycling 10+ ks), it’s still not the same as eating and living on a normal schedule in the comfort of your own hometown. All this holiday food then, is starting to make me feel bad about my body image and myself.

Unrealistic expectations of myself
A quote I’ve mentioned several times here, “comparison is the thief of joy” by Theodore Roosevelt. During holidays, we meet countless faces. In Japan, most are settled in good jobs with babies and husbands. My current life is much much different in comparison. Again, it seems instinctive of human wiring to compare. I keep forgetting that this won’t be my life forever and that I too am chasing my dream/working towards a good future. When I compare my very undetermined life with theirs, I feel sad.

Lack of sleep
A combination of the above.

I know I’m probably being too hard on myself but I, 1. needed to get this off of my chest and tell someone seeing as I’m all alone in this wah and 2. wanted you to know that it’s not all castle and croissants and that there is depth to the pretty pictures.

Last, am going on a money and food diet.

1…2…3… (a goal-starter countdown I’ve always done as a kid for which my father would always mock me)


The More I Live The Less I Fear

Do you remember Yasu? My ex-neighbour that was too shy to talk to me for a year but then became my best friend? Well, she came to visit me in the big city and we had a blast together and I showed her my new favorite places. In saying that, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of this (see below picture) which made me think… (don’t say I told you so!) that the countryside does have its benefits. For one, I am spending a lot of unnecessary money here. Mostly on over-priced drinks (oops) and it’s hard to walk past a top that’s been reduced by 80%! I also can’t help but feel body conscious with the crazy amount of advertisements everywhere. However, I still believe the more I live the less I fear.


So my fourth article for Savvy Tokyo is up, you can check it out HERE and all I can say is, I guess I need to develop thicker skin if I want to continue as a “writer.” Gosh, people can be so mean these days. Has anyone else noticed that we’re living in an age where someone is always trying to either disagree or prove that they know better? Maybe I just wasn’t as active on social media when I was younger…but I swear this is  new-age shizz. Whatever happened to not saying anything at all if you didn’t have anything NICE to say? Of course, we should all fight (with heart and soul) for what we believe in, but if you simply dislike a certain author  I’ve quoted or notice one or three grammar mistakes please don’t attack the writer! You can still voice your opinion but please in a nice way! You know, cos we’re all human and we’re all trying our best. And it’s not easy being so honest and open. So like, “hey girl, nice article” or not even; “thanks for writing that but this is what I think, it doesn’t mean what you’re saying is necessarily wrong, it just means we have differing opinions but kudos to you for putting time and energy into pursuing your passion, anyway.”

Anyhow, so the announcements…One is minor and the other not.

First the little news: now that my homemade granola has run out and I cannot afford to make more (cos nuts and seeds in Japan are EXPENSIVE), I’ve decided to try and quit sugar. Like all kinds of sugar. I’ve had a BIG sweet tooth for as long as I can remember. Like, if my family and I dined out for breakfast, I’d always be the one ordering fruit salad or pancakes, whilst everyone else had eggs. And, I can’t understand people who don’t crave a sweet somethin’ somethin’ first thing in the mornin’. I just don’t get it. But I’m gonna try I’mma try to. So, as of today, I have embarked on a moreish journey of savory delicious.  I won’t go cold turkey (excuse the pun) but rather slow slow day by day.

The big announcement is this, recently I received some unbelievable confirmation through 2 dreams and an important email. After my European holiday, I will be serving at Blossoms Bahai school in Bhunameshwar, India for a year!


Prepare for some epic European/Indian foodie adventures Or prepare to bash my opinions, whichever (tehe).

An open letter to the prick who commented on my weight.

Last night I dined at the coolest sushi-train restaurant ever. It amazed me because between every 2 seats there was a touch-screen monitor where you could conveniently order your sushi/edamame/chocolate-parfait freshly-made. Then DING DING and the monitor would notify you of your picks shortly arrival at the same time as a variety of other tempting delicacies continued to shoo shoo by. Perhaps where you live, such sushi-trains are common but for me, this particular joint’s techno savviness was definitely a first. As the norm with sushi trains, I lost count of how many plates I snatched (in this case, ordered) and only felt slightly guilty later, after seeing my leaning tower of plates. However; I didn’t mind too much because not only was I filled with the creamiest avocado and the freshest salmon but also, pure bliss. I was so happy to be there! Until he opened his mouth, that is.

“Anisa, you’ve put on weight since coming to Japan…”

Then all hell broke loose and I tore out his “brain” (I use quotation marks here because obviously the brother don’t have any) using my chopsticks.

Seriously? What the frick. I suggested he take a “how to treat women” or better yet “how not to treat women” class. Yeah yeah, cultural difference; the Japanese are frank yadi yada – not good enough. Dear mothertrucker, who at the age of 28 is still living  off his parents and has never left his hometown (no judgement – okay maybe a little judgement), moving to a new country is hard. No, no one forced me to fly some 5000 miles from my family, friends and comforts but just because I chose to actively follow my dream, doesn’t make it any easier. In addition to changes in the obvious (food), moving to a new country means encountering and gradually learning to conduct oneself to new and therefore; unfamiliar, weather, work, people, daily routines etc. etc. As well as, having to find the nearest exercise facilities, farmer’s markets, health stores and so on. Or in my case, learning to live by myself, cook for ONE, shop for one and the number one culprit: STRESS. You know, from changing your entire LIFE. Since you’re yet to experience it, being unable to speak the language of the country in which you live can drive you mad. Performing trivial tasks like posting a letter, checking your bank balance or ordering a chai latte can make you sweat (obviously not enough in my case). Lastly, since you’ve traveled so very far to a so very foreign (but exciting) land, naturally, you want to immerse yourself in the culture, make the most of every day, if you will. So if that means immersing oneself in a bath tub of ramen – then so be it! When else are you going to live in Japan? They don’t even have ramen where I live!

I don’t know where I’m going with this – I’ve always struggled with structure (in English not life – shut your trap). I guess what I’m trying to say is, life is to be lived. What did Elizabeth Gilbert say in Eat Pray Love? “I have no interest in being obese, I’m just through with the guilt. So this is what I’m going to do, I’m going to finish this pizza, and then we are going to go watch the soccer game, and tomorrow we are going to go on a little date and buy ourselves some bigger jeans”.

But to answer his question, yes, yes I have. About 5.3kgs to be exact which at first I really struggled with (don’t all we girls?) but now realise is absolutely okay. A while back, I wrote a similar post on body image in which I shared this brilliance: “Our bodies are changing every second. Yet we take the body to be our Self; and, speaking in terms of it, we say, “I am hungry” or “I am lame;” “I am black” or “I am white.” These are all just the conditions of the body. We touch the truth when we say, ‘My body aches,’ implying the body belongs to us and that therefore we are not that.” In other words, not only is it okay for our bodies to change but NORMAL for our weight to shift. AND, we are not defined by it’s appearance for we/I am probably going to lose it all then put it all back on again and lose it and put it on and lose it – OK we’ll stop there (wink wink). Ya dig?!

Phew, glad I got that off of my chest.

Still angry at him.

AND a diet coke please

Yesterday, I came across a quote on the internet which really stood out to me.

The quote was this:
“Our bodies are changing every second. Yet we take the body to be our Self; and, speaking in terms of it, we say, “I am hungry” or “I am lame;” “I am black” or “I am white.” These are all just the conditions of the body. We touch the truth when we say, ‘My body aches,’ implying the body belongs to us and that therefore we are not that.”
― Swami Satchidananda

Often in hospitality, I receive strange (to put it mildly) requests from customers. However; I’m not entirely blaming them as I myself, am also guilty of previously having altered a menu item (or ten). If you work in the industry or you’re anything like 99% of women, then you’re bound to be familiar with the following common requests:

“I’ll have a (insert meal high in fat and calories here) with a diet coke please”
“dressing on the side”, “no dressing”
“can I swap my potatoes for a side salad?” (as if eating potatoes is the ultimate sin)
The list is endless…

Arguably, the core of such requests is bad body image; a desire to be thinner in order to be more beautiful (a misconception, obviously, as recently highlighted by Meghan Trainor and co). I wonder, when did food change from a blessing, one to be savoured, looked forward to and most importantly appreciated, to a chore and/or burden which requires strategic planning to conquer? Intellectually, I understand it; media, photoshop, unrealistic beauty standards, celebrities with eating disorders, society as we know it (nothing easier than blaming society). That being said, we are all conscious beings. Ones who have the ability to think, problem solve and differentiate from the kinds of shit society forcefully feeds our brains on a daily basis and the “truth” or life as we know it.

In my mere 22 years, my weight has often fluctuated (as I’m certain so has yours). At times I have felt like a scarecrow and at others, I have not (to put it gently). Why? Because; life. In his book entitled Finding Your Element, Sir Ken Robinson states: “Life is organic, not linear”. Meaning; none of us can effectively predict our future as our lives are neither programmed nor deliberate. Instead, our lives (and our bodies) are in a constant state of transformation. Because; life. Deadlines. Heartbreak. Redundancy. Death. Bills. Assignments. Stress. Stress. Stress. Change. Change. Change. In my favourite book of all time, Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert also reflects on this process:

“I look at the Augusteum,and I think that perhaps my life has not actually been so chaotic, after all. It is merely this world that is chaotic, bringing changes to us all that nobody could have anticipated. The Augusteum warns me to not to get attached to any obsolete ideas about who I am, what I represent, whom I belong to, or what function I may once have intended to serve. Yesterday I might have been a glorious monument to somebody, true enough–but tomorrow I could be a fireworks depository. Even in the Eternal City, says the silent Augusteum, one must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“One must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.”

“Our bodies are changing every second.”

Today, to be thin is to be everything.  Skinny is the ultimate aspiration. And. I. Loathe. It. Perhaps I would hate it less if I were skinny, if I were benefiting from the system, the game. But, you know, I could be skinny. I have been skinny before. I could devote all my time, thoughts, energy, life to it. But I don’t want to. Actually, I cannot afford it. YOLO (you only live once)? Heaven? Hell? Metempsychosis? Whatever your belief system, we can all agree life is inestimable, invaluable, precious, GREAT. Don’t get me wrong, I am not encouraging gluttony or ill-health but rather inviting you all to view your body with a different lens. You are entirely up to you. You are capable of endless wisdom, creativity, achievement. You are so much more than your ever-shifting weight. AK.