The Battle of the Bulge, holiday-style

WRY BREAD - Philip Cu-Unjieng (The Philippine Star) - December 28, 2014 - 12:00am

The “Battle of the Bulge” all history books will refer to is the January 1945 offensive in the Ardennes region of France that had allied forces, joined by the Americans, dealing a decisive blow to Nazi Germany. My use of the phrase will have an altogether more prosaic meaning. If there’s something we Filipinos put great pride in come holiday season, it’s the way we prepare lavish orgies of food, alcohol and sweets. From successive Christmas parties, to noche buena, and New Year dinners/feasts, the endless days of December down to the first week of January is a procession of countless food-centered occasions, losing count of calories, and a countdown to weight worries and New Year resolutions. And if year after year, we say to ourselves that we’ll be more careful and conscious of our food intake; the sight of lechon, of puto bumbong, of the ubiquitous fruit cake and sweets, the call to join toast after toast, the breakfasts of tsokolate and bibingka — they all lead to sweet surrender and calorie capitulation. We can’t help it, the flesh is weak, and who can argue with Delicious December? This is my Battle of the Bulge!

While I’ve always made it a point to maintain my hours of tennis and exercise when December rolls along, I only know too well how sheer will and wishing it were so, comes in second to “Yes, one more slice of that frozen brazo de mercedes,” or “Do sprinkle more calamansi on my lechon, laman and balat!” So having learned not to look a gift horse in the mouth, and taking help and assistance when it is offered, I’ve come to appreciate what For Men (a subsidiary of Marie France and Facial Care) can mean this time of the year. Non-invasive, quick in terms of time spent “on the table” — For Men is an invaluable aid to keeping some sense to holiday food indulgence.

The new service it was proud to announce earlier this year is the i.Lipo machine. For the trial session I subjected myself to, it was the flanks and tummy area I wanted to target. Four pads were inserted into the belt strapped around these problem areas, and I went through about 10 minutes of being worked on by the machine. A suction attachment was then utilized to comb through the targeted areas, and help promote the dissolving of fatty tissue and cells. It was painless, and I felt it had done a lot of help. Weekly sessions for two months or so are recommended.

The Physique session is like going through a workout while lying down, thanks to the electric impulses that are created at key points in one’s body via round pads secured by belts. There are tolerance levels here, and you go for what you can manage, knowing that the higher the charge, more of a workout is being simulated. Literally, the bed I’m lying on is damp after the session; the stomach pads give me the impression of having done intensive sit-ups, and I have to admit, this is one of my favorites. There are moments as the charge goes higher that one feels like one is going epileptic — the involuntary muscle twitching; but this is safe and effective.

Still another treatment is the Tripolar machine, which operates on the principle of RF, and has similarities to the i.Lipo — but with heat as an integral component to melting the fat tissues, I had an issue how with not that much fat to begin with, the heat factor did at times give me the sensation of discomfort from imagining I was getting “burned.” With the right supervision, the likelihood of that actually happening is very slim, but I have to say, this one does require the subject to experience and combat the fear or dread that they’re raising the frequency too high.



Crucial then, and SOP at For Men, is the consultation one first has with one’s resident doctor, nutritionist and dietician. It makes it a point to understand what your objectives are, make recommendations, and give sober, realistic assessments of what can be done, managed, or hoped for. Throughout the year, one can purchase gift certificates, and I know of several friends who would welcome these GCs as Christmas gifts. While nothing in the end beats proper diet and regular exercise, it’s nice to know that when it comes to my Battle of the Bulge, I have an ally in For Men.


(For best results, consult your doctor.)


Literary treasure chest

Here are three novels courtesy of fresh, exciting young (and not that young) writers. What’s consistent with all three is the quality of the writing and how they successfully immerse you in the worlds they create. Ideal for Christmas stockings, if the recipient is into fiction.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker (available at National Book Store) Here is the novel of murder, scandal and propriety that put Dicker on the map this year. Central to the plot are a successful young novelist, the renowned writer who was his mentor, and the 15-year-old Nola, who disappeared in the late ‘70s; and whose body is suddenly found, buried in the garden of the mentor’s home. When said mentor admits he had an illicit affair with minor Nola when he was in his early thirties, and that she was the inspiration for his acclaimed novel; suspicion falls on him, and young novelist decides to carry on his own investigation. With more red herrings than there are in the ocean, and more twists and turns than Kennon Road, I guarantee you’ll feel bad as the book winds down.

Afterparty by Daryl Gregory (available on Amazon.com) Ostensibly a techno-thriller set in the pharmaceutical world, this novel skillfully explores the arena of possibilities of recreational drugs, and sets us up within the nexus of greed and ethics (or lack of it) that characterizes this world. At issue is the street drug Numinous, and how it gives the user “Religion.” Our flawed heroine is Lyda and she’s our guide to the designer drug subculture — from the chemists and neuroscientists who invent and produce, to the ones who distribute and “push,” to the users themselves. There’s a unique storytelling device of fables to allow us to discover the pasts of our main characters. And a long-lost daughter of Lyda’s becomes the fulcrum for events that wonderfully spiral out of control.

Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman (available on Amazon.com) Waldman is the wife of Michael Chabon; and while it may be criminal to have so much talent in one family, am just grateful for this meticulously researched novel, which has a multi-strand narrative. Crucial to the plot is a pendant taken from a train loaded with treasures taken from the Hungarian Jews by Nazis and now loaded on a train that, in 1945, makes its way to Salzburg under American Army protection. Jack Wiseman is one of the officers detailed to look after the train, and it’s his relationship with refugee Ilona that sets things in motion. Decades later, Jack entrusts his granddaughter to “return” the pendant. The suffragette movement, the cloudy morality of the spoils of war, the dubious ethics that rule this niche of the art world — they all form themes of this novel.

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