"Oh my god, is that really me?" I thought, staring transfixed at the screen. "That's not me. That can't be me."
But after wearing out numerous black leggings and a drawer stuffed full of more sports bras than regular ones, I think it's about time to acknowledge that I have a problem.
Hello, my name is Lisabel, and I am an Active Wear Addict.
The "athleisure" trend is one that I've embraced with gusto since last year. My wardrobe is sectioned into Adidas, Nike and Under Armour. After the epiphany that "Hey, exercise clothes can be regular clothes too!" I've started living by the mantra Wear Active Anytime.
I spent New Year's Eve sipping wine on the roof of a hotel in Adidas leggings and a dri-fit tank top. My colleagues all think it's strange to see me in 'normal' clothing. Hell, when the Active Wear video went big, I had two friends send it to me with a "This is SO you!"
Despite knowing that I had become a lazy dresser, I found ways to justify my descent into the comfort-first lifestyle:
- I'm going to the gym later! (True 10 per cent of the time)
- Exercise clothes are so cheap (Totally not true)
- No one is looking at me anyway (Quite sad if this is true)
- And my personal favourite: WHAT IF SOMEONE MUGS ME AND I NEED TO RUN AWAY?
I wasn't always this way. I used to be a regular person, with a regular wardrobe. I used to buy stuff from blogshops. I used to need to iron my clothes. I wore high heels.
The disease struck insidiously. It all started when one day, I decided to hit the office gym after hours. Well, why not wear exercise gear to work? It's so much easier. Plus, I'm not going out to meet anyone…
As I lounged around the office in my active wear, I felt … comfortable. I threw a hoodie on, and suddenly, the world became a brighter place. You know the Danish term hygge? That's exactly how I felt. Warm. Snuggly. Cosy. Happy.
At first, the athleisure lifestyle came with some perks.
"Hey, I look pretty sporty", I thought to myself as I flexed my flabby arms in the mirror. "If I keep this up, maybe people will think I'm actually fit."
It was also easier to decide what to wear in the morning. Leggings and a top. Leggings and a top. Leggings and a top. Plus, because a lot of sportswear look similar, you can get away with wearing the same thing multiple times.
But after a while, the cracks started to show. I could no longer ignore the symptoms of my worsening addiction.
Once, I turned up at a launch event in compression tights, wedge sneakers and a random top. "Oh, you've taken up running?" the PR guy asked me. "Err... yeah. I'm going to the gym later", I fibbed. He gave me the press kit and a judgey look.
Another time, when I was at Suntec City covering the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 exchange, I approached a heavily tattooed man in a white muscle shirt for an interview.
"You're a reporter?" he asked me incredulously. "I thought you were a Zumba instructor."
Something finally snapped last week when I pulled on my usual getup, and then took out another bag to pack for the gym. "Hang on," I thought to myself. "I am... packing active wear... in my active wear?
Active wear was so normalised that it had just become "wear" - something I would need to change out of to go to the gym.
It was like a fog had been lifted. Immediately, I knew that I had one of two choices: Try to dress like a normal person, or fully embrace what I had become - one of those women in the video, someone who wears exercise gear for anything but exercising.
I tried the former option first. Over the weekend, I made half-hearted efforts to dress up. I tried curling my hair. I tried to wear shoes that I couldn't run in. I even busted out a lacy bra.
But you know what? That just wasn't me anymore. It didn't feel right anymore.
So today, on a sleepy Monday morning, I trundled into office in full-on active wear mode, at peace with what I had become. A woman who puts comfort first; whose shoes are more likely to come from Adidas than Aldo; a woman completely at ease with being mistaken for a Zumba instructor while trying to be a serious journalist.
At the very least, if I ever get mugged, I'm pretty sure that I'd be able to run away.