As is often the case when I am surrounded by female friends, the topic turns to fitness and diets. I was raised watching my grandmother live on a whirlwind cycle of Slim Fast and binge eating. The entire purpose of the fridge door was to pin up a photocopy of whatever fad the neighbour had paid a thousand pounds to a nutritionist for, and then distributed around the ladies of the estate.
Success was measured in seeing someone walk down the street who had lost roughly a million kilos, and now needed surgery in order to remove the excess flab. Shock and awe came to the women who then put the weight back on, with an extra roll for good measure.
The vicious whispers were reserved for the women (and some men) who chin up and close-eyed, nose to the sky professed it was all “eating well and brisk walking”. There was no such thing, they’d had shady dealings with a doctor up the coast who plied them with amphetamines and played havoc with their thyroids.
One of the girls I am sat with, during a lazy Saturday morning with sun streaming through the windows and hardly a shoe on the pavement outside, is having trouble with her chair.
“I’m doing the Insanity workout, it’s amazing, but I’m five days in and I am ready to give up”
I tell her I’ve tried every diet going, it’s one of those inherited traits, like heart trouble and thick hair. Somewhere inside me, I have a body gene ready to binge and starve on lemonade diets, Atkins and juice detoxes. Nothing worked, nothing made me happier but controlling calories and exercising regularly.
I tell them matter-of-factly that I went for a half hour run that morning, and they look at me like I completed twelve labours before breakfast.
“You went for a run? In the morning? You’re crazy”. Somehow doing a 60 day intensive version of a hell circle which will put you off exercise for the rest of your life is okay, as long as you don’t do it in the morning.
It always amuses me when people call me crazy for running, or going to the gym regularly. Mostly because I used to be one of those people, and if I can put one foot in front of the other and just go (and that’s the secret really) then anyone can.
Except I’ve fallen off the wagon, and now I’m grumpy. I had a start of the year punctuated by big dreams. I signed up for a marathon, I’ve been writing, I want to intern, I changed job, I moved house and I am starting a degree. Then God put me into a sandwich bag with all my things and gave it a big shake without sealing it properly. Inevitably, to my great upset, some things have fallen out.
Routine, comfortable routine, was the name of success when it came to my fitness. Once I changed location, things just seem that little bit harder. I am fussy as to what time I go to the gym, and if I keep procrastinating as to whether to go for a morning run later and later, I get to the point of thinking “I can’t go now and get to work on time”. Instead I should focus on waking up earlier, getting out of bed and just getting it done.
It fascinates me how much people take on, and succeed or fail. That moment when you’re doing “it”, that feeling is euphoric. Am I just terrified at what comes after that? The fact that success is some sort of plateau? Are we all addicted to that feeling of the first few days of trying, not seeing any results and eating a bigger burger than before?
I believe that in life there are always plates to spin, and sometimes you just have to let some of them smash. The fallout is never pretty though, but better two plates than ten.
I just don’t want to be left holding up two sticks surrounded by broken crockery, telling myself I’ll clean it up tomorrow.
What have you given up? Is there something you just can’t get off the ground? Are you one of these people who just do it all? What’s your secret? Get in touch! @misterpalazzo @vadamagazine #HelloNeverland