Post-Workout Routine

July 3, 2017
The familiar press of the cold measuring tape against my lower belly makes my heart pound as I strain my neck to look at the markings.

Does that say 51, 51 point...3? Wait, the marking is closer to 52, so...51.7?

The rapidfire observations continue as I try and locate the exact mark where the ends of the measuring tape meet up. Finally, I concede that yes, that is the correct number, and the bendy plastic falls from my waist.

The mirror-reflection stares back at me, with its eyes trained on the bulge in my lower stomach. My eyes travel up my side profile and go back to the top of my bra. They go back down again, taking note of the slight curve of my breast even with the padded bra, the protruding stomach, the sudden dip to my underwear. The angle from my bloated stomach to my crotch is angular, like an upside down skate ramp. Too extreme, too unnatural, and undoubtedly manmade, created from one too many snacks and hours of sitting in front of a computer screen.

Mom's words ring in the back of my head. If you pinch a chunk of your stomach and feel no pain, then it is made of the fat that is hard to get rid of. But if it hurts, you still have a chance.

My hands make their way to the bulge. How I wish that the bulge didn't exist at all, that my stomach would be just a flat, desert plane of existence save for the ridges sculpted through Pilates ab workouts.

With my index finger and thumb, I pinch. Pinch as hard as I can, and pull away, just for good measure, in the delusional hope that the fat will leave my body like a ball of dough being torn away from the main batch. hurts, kind of. It's obvious that bundles of nerves exist within the mass of skin and adipose cells that I've pinched off. But does it hurt enough? Is it strong enough pain?

I wearily decide that I may still have a chance at burning off the stomach fat. It's already been a month. It's been the same width, the same appearance. But I'll keep up the flimsy hope for another month.

I continue praying in the back of my mind that Pilates and reduced caloric intake can slim it down as I sit, slouched in front of my laptop, reading articles about the "quickest ways to burn fat" while continuously grasping the seemingly infinite amount of fat pockets in my lower belly and obliques. One day, I think, I could be the healthy, fit, and buff model, free of the unwelcome burden of lower belly fat, the stomach pain associated with bloating, and the heavy weight of perfection in my mind. One day.

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