We give you all the Colombian body and fitness lingo you need to shape up in 2015
Feliz Año! Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Maybe to improve your Spanish? Maybe to lose weight? I thought we could kill two birds with one stone by talking about one goal that’s very common (losing weight), and teaching you some related useful Spanish de paso.
First of all, a goal in this context is un propósito.
If your goal is to lose weight, you’d say – Mi propósito para este año es bajar de peso.
If it’s to get in shape –Mi propósito para este año es ponerme en forma.
Another way of saying to lose weight is adelgazar; you can see its connection to the word for thin, delgado. Use the preposition para to express a deadline:
Quiero bajar cinco kilos para junio – I want to lose five kilos by June.
Maybe you just want to tone up, either in general or a certain body part. To tone is tonificar.
Quiero tonificar mis brazos – I want to tone my arms.
Maybe you want to eat healthily – Quiero comer sano/sanamente.
To go on a diet is hacer una dieta; to tell someone that you’re on a diet, you say, Estoy a dieta.
If you want to join a gym, you’ll say, Quiero entrar al gimnasio. To work out is hacer ejercicio. Want the holy grail of gym rats, a six-pack? Locally, you call that a chocolatina because it looks like a chocolate bar with its various squares. Ironic, right?
Have a spare tire around your middle? That’s a michelín; yes, just like the brand of tires. A double chin? That’s called a papada.
Rolls of fat in general are called gordos. Spanish even has a word for chubby cheeks! They’re cachetes.
You may have noticed that here in Colombia the words gordo and gorda frequently don’t carry the same stigma and insult that fat carries in other cultures. There are husbands and wives that affectionately call each other gordo and gorda, as well as women who greet their female friends by calling them gorda. It’s all about the tonito. Gordito makes the label softer, obviously, and means chubby or plump.
What are some other ways of saying that someone is heavy? Your doctor is most likely to say something tactful and technical like:
Usted tiene sobrepeso or Usted está pasado de peso.
If your friends notice that you’re packing a few extra pounds than usual, or if you come back from vacation with your face a little rounder, they might say that you’re repuesto or repuestico. A little stronger than that would be rellenito. Rechoncho is a harsher way of saying that someone is chunky or hefty. One very local way of saying that someone is gaining weight is:
Se ve que se toma la sopita – You can tell they’re eating all their soup!
Soups of all kinds being, of course, a classic Bogota staple for the traditionally cold weather. People even eat soup at breakfast!
Speaking of Bogota food, once I heard an overweight person jokingly called a buñuelo con patas. A walking buñuelo!
What about when someone has a killer bod?
¡Qué cuerpazo! – What a great body!
A macancán is a guy who’s really ripped. Acuerpado also means buff or toned (though it can also just mean large), as does musculoso. Delgado is thin, of course, and esbelta (usually for women) means slender. Flaco carries more of the connotation of skinny, sometimes being underdeveloped and unattractively thin. Not always, though:
¡Flaca, tírame un hueso! is a famously humorous ‘piropo’ (see sidebar) for women. Hey, skinny Minnie, throw me a bone!
If someone’s skin and bones, you can say that they’re puro hueso or that they parece un palillo – they’re as thin as a rail or, er, toothpick.
One false friend you may run into when talking about bodies is complexión. As someone once wrote, resist the urge to write “cleared up years ago!” when you see this on a form you need to fill out. No, it’s not referring to your skin complexion. Instead, complexión in Spanish refers to your build or body type.
All that really matters is that you’re happy and healthy, and we all know that thinness is not necessarily a guarantee of either.
Whatever your size, hopefully 2015 will be a year of joy, success, and increased Spanish fluency!
Some famous “piropos”
Piropos are popular expressions that usually rhyme and offer exaggerated compliments towards the opposite sex – usually women. Some are vulgar, some are funny, and almost all of them are intended to flatter. Even if it doesn’t feel that way when they are being shouted from across the street.
Here are some examples- but be warned, use with caution:
Tu de rojo y yo con este antojo – You in red and me with this craving
Se rompió el cielo porque están cayendo angelitos – The sky must have broken because angels are falling
Tu con tantas curvas y yo sin frenos – You with so many curves and me with no brakes
Si así es de verde, cómo será madura – If you are like this green, I can’t imagine what you would be like ripe
Quien fuese bizco para verte dos veces – I wish that I was cross-eyed so that I could see you twice
Katie Jacoby is a Spanish-English translator and has been in Colombia for 2.5 years. Feel free to leave her a comment or ideas for future columns on her language website, vocabat.com.