Back to Front PageFeature StoryMenu BarBack to Front Page
Beijing Scene, Volume 5, Issue 19, July 30 - August 5

Jian Fei 减肥
Lose Weight!

When the Comrade was a tyke, the last thing anyone worried about was losing weight. Emaciation was a way of life. We ate chicken once a year at the time of 春节 chunjie (Spring Festival). Kids were so skinny they used to run through closed doors and play games like 'dodge the raindrops.' Then came 经济改革开放 jingji gaige kaifang (Reform and Opening), which paved the way for a new social problem 胖子 pangzi (obesity). Thanks to economic reforms, Chinese people's 生活水平 shenghuo shuiping (standard of living) has reached its highest levels in 5000 years. The 老百姓 laobaixing (common people) are eating the same 垃圾食物 lajishiwu (junk food) and 快餐 kuaican (fast food) consumed by their rich western counterparts.

Now that Chinese people are eating like Americans, they're starting to look like Americans. The irrefutable result of consuming excessive amounts of refined sugars, empty calories and nutritionless garbage is a 明显mingxian (noticeable) increase of unsightly 脂肪 zhifang (n. fat).
Of course, it's fine for men to be 胖 pang (adj. fat). 菩萨 Pusa (Buddha) is fat. 毛 Mao was fat. Chinese women are more attracted to fat men than thin ones. For men, being fat is a symbol of wealth, abundance and excess.

As a matter of fact, most fat Chinese men are rich. They eat big and frequent meals, take taxis instead of riding bicycles, walk very slowly and sleep at least 12 hours a day.

Chinese women, on the other hand, take great pains to keep 苗条 miaotiao (slender). Many practice 节食 jieshi (fasting) and take up 吸烟 xiyan (smoking cigarettes) in order to 减肥 jianfei (lose weight). Chinese women are suckers for fad diets, just like their western counterparts. After they get home from the discos at 3 a.m. or so, they turn on the TV and stare wide-eyed at infomercials promoting the latest 窍门 qiaomen (trick) for losing weight.

One recent weight-loss scam is 瘦身 shoushen (literally Thin Body). Gullible women hand over handfuls of money to get hooked up to electrodes and have their bodies smeared with some kind of 药膏 (medicinal paste). If all that sounds too complicated, why not try 减肥茶 jianfeicha (weight-loss tea) or weight-loss sucking candies and cookies? The most 实际 shiji (practical) weight-loss product is the 运动裤 yundongku (weight-loss pants), which actually have no weight-reduction capability. They simply act as a girdle, holding in your beer belly or saggy butt. The sad truth about weight-loss is that there are no shortcuts to getting in shape. If you sleep until noon every day, shop for shoes and cosmetics all afternoon, and eat hotpot until the wee hours of the night, no weight-loss product can help you. You must accept the fact that the three biggest 因素 yinsu (factors) affecting your weight are diet, exercise and stress.

Diet 饮食 Yinshi
You'll never get thin if you keep eating fattening foods. Junk food (including fast food) and booze are as fattening as a university 总机 zongji (telephone operator) is lazy. If you want to lose weight, cut them out of your diet. Drink water instead of soda. Other fattening foods that are high in sugar and 碳水化合物 tanshuihuahewu (carbohydrates) are bread,
rice, noodles and fruit.

The right ratio of 蛋白质 danbaizhi (protein) to carbohydrates and fat, balanced with adequate nutrients and minerals from green vegetables, is the key to a successful diet. Simply cut down on carbohydrates and compensate by eating more 高蛋白 gaodanbai (high protein) foods such as lean meat, fish and eggs.
(Note: 节食 jieshi or fasting is not only a sure-fire way to reduce your body weight, it's also the perfect excuse to leave your entire meal on the table, untouched, for everyone to see, when you leave a restaurant).

Exercise 运动 Yundong
Sorry, a night of 跳舞 tiaowu (dancing) at the disco doesn't count as exercise. The role of exercise in weight-loss is to burn up body fat and extra calories that would otherwise be stored as fat. 有氧操 Youyangcao (aerobic) exercise is the most effective way to lose weight. The idea is to get your heart beating fast for an extended length of time.
Many people mistakenly believe that somehow body fat can be sweated away.
In fact it must be burned through rigorous aerobic exercise. Good aerobic exercises include 骑自行车 qi zixingche (bicycle riding) and 跑步 paobu (running). If you have access to a 健身房 jianshenfang (gym), try the 登山机 dengshanji (stairmaster) or 健美体操 jianmei ticao (aerobics classes). Don't forget the mandatory workout apparel: fat-accentuating spandex. And remember, 苦尽甘来 kujin ganlai (no pain, no gain)!

Pressure; Stress 压力 Yali
What does stress have to do with weight gain? Comrade neuroscientists at the University of Virginia in the US have -- 研究 yanjiu (studied) the relationship between stress and glucose. During times of stress, glucose is released by the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). Excess glucose can 刺激 ciji (stimulate) the fat enzyme, lipoprotein lipase. The result is excess stored body fat. Also, during stress the body craves very high fat, high glycemic foods in order to balance out anti-stress chemicals.
You're probably wondering whatever in the world could cause stress in a Chinese person's life. Luckily the Comrade has prepared the following list
of the top ten things that cause us Chinese to feel stressed:

10. Trying to decide what to eat for 早饭 zaofan (breakfast)
9. 装修房子 zhuangxiu fangzi (renovating an apartment)
8. Planning a 婚礼 hunli (wedding)
7. 麻将 Majiang (Mah-jongg)
6. Trying to decide what to eat for 午饭 wufan (lunch)
5. Juggling a wife and a girlfriend
4. Worrying about whether or not the kid will pass college entrance exams
3. Hoping to have a son
2. Trying to decide what to eat for 晚饭 wanfan (dinner)
And the number one cause of stress is:
1. 股票市场 Gupiao shichang (the stock market)


Previous stories

Money is everything

The Comrade's final exam

Wining and dinning out

Pekinese in beijing

Using Your Electric Brain

Traditional Holidays

Little Emporer Syndrome

Henpecked Husbands

To Own Real Estate is Glorious


Book Reviews Daily Entertainment Guide FYI Ask Ayi Doctor Doctor China's Cultural Underground Classifieds Wine and Dine Comrade Language cartoon News from the Chinese Press Book Reviews