Thursday, January 23, 2014

よこばら (yokobara, 横腹)

よこばら (yokobara, 横腹)is the Japanese word for love handlesYoko (横) means side or width, and bara comes from hara (腹), the word for stomach.  So よこばら is like the sides of your stomach, or more accurately, the sides of your waist or core.

The word came up last week.  Back from winter vacation, at school we talked about the holidays, which quickly led to talking about what we did on Dec 31 and Jan 1--happens pretty much every year.  New Year traditions in Japan, the symbolic meanings of eating soba, osechi, and hatsumode.  Most years, someone in class will ask about Western traditions for celebrating the New Year.  I say drinkin' for some people, on New Year's Eve.  The countdown of course, which isn't exclusively in Western culture any more, if it ever was.  For millions of Americans the bowl games.  And, in Hawai'i, we set off firecrackers and fireworks to celebrate, more so on Dec 31 than July 4.  Twenty years ago New Year's Eve in Honolulu looked as smoky as a war zone in a war movie.  But that tradition is dying out as new and stricter laws curb the activities. 

And then we come to New Year resolutions.  Students get it immediately; my first example is the Smoker who lights up during the minutes prior to the Countdown and sucks it in before quitting. We go through a few more examples, then try setting resolutions ourselves.  Although this resolutions discussion can get repetitive for some teachers (I think especially for teachers in eikaiwa schools, but in high school and college English classes perhaps less so.  At least, for me.  Probably because when I was teaching in eikaiwa schools, I'd do it with all my classes, but in high school and college it only fits in with a few.  Also, it seems to be new to most high school and college students, young and newer to this world as they are).

(In teaching NY resolutions, one kind of extension that can make it more challenging and concrete is S.M.A.R.T., or something along those lines.  An example:)

Anyway, in one of my classes, we were doing resolutions.  This class has only one male student, almost a dozen females.  When we go around the room to share our goals, he says, "I want to rid of my yokobara."  Every girl laughs, affectionately.  "How do you say yokobara in English?" he asks me.  This is a teenager, not a middle-aged man, so it doesn't immediately hit me that he's self-conscious about his weight or amount of body fat.  Once he gestures to his love handles, though, I understand.  I try to assure him that No, man, you don't have to worry about that.  He sticks to his guns with his goal, so what can I say?  It's his resolution.  I said that I thought overall cardio activity and keeping track of saturated fat intake might help; and for strengthening and toning I like the Plank.

My goodness, there are a lot of You Tube videos about getting rid of よこばら.  Here are a few different exercises:


I think they all look pretty good, but I just do the Plank.

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