Diet · Exercise

Relearning the joy

Day 4 – 600 kcal in 2300 kcal out… in out, in out, shake it all about!

Exercise. Ex-er-cise. A word my teenage brain struggled to spell. I mean, life is so much easier now it’s all about the predictive keyboards and spell check, but who didn’t spell it ex-cer-size? Anyone? Just me? My bad.

Hands up all the try-ers in the room. The ones who always knew they were rubbish at sports, but wanted to give it their all anyway? That’s my jam. However, unfortunately for my self-esteem, I also have an ├╝ber competitive tactical streak. I hated the idea of losing. Of looking bad. Still do.

It’s why I’m always apologising for my shitty catching, or general lack of coordination, or my inability to run fast or for long periods of time. Because if I was the sporty one, I would hate people like me. People that ruin the flow of a game or stop a team from being the best.

It’s ironic really that the only sports I’ve ever truly enjoyed, are the ones where I’ve felt the most self-conscious. Tennis lessons at school spring to mind (some poor sod, who played for the county, partnered with me!), netball too (the year 4 gym teacher once called me a sack of potatoes in front of the whole class); my favourite sports are generally tainted with memories of shame.

There was one sport I got pretty good at. One where it was all about the technique and team spirit. God I had that in spades.

Rowing, glorious rowing. Gliding down the Weir with the sun poking through the autumn leaves. The fresh air filling you with constant joy. The feeling of a building strength, of both mind and body. This was the one time in my life that I’ve felt truly fit. I kept that size 8 half starved body from school, despite all the boozing and junk food. I danced the night away at socials. I won something. MY. CREW. WON. Granted it wasn’t Head Of The River, or The Boat Race, but this was something. I could have spent my Saturdays lying in and chilling out (as I do now), but I didn’t. The hard work had paid off: no sack of potatoes here.

It was such a lovely thing, such a devastating thing to have ruined.

I’m not sure what happened. Maybe my insecurities at that time made me say or do something stupid. All I know is that what I thought had been a blossoming friendship with a future housemate soured; then all hell broke loose.

Because you see I wasn’t only going to be living with two of my most favourite gal pals in my second year, I was also going to be living with four boys. Four rowing boys, who inexplicably became impossible to be around.

I won’t go into this further here, because it’s not the point, and because I don’t think about that aspect of my life now. The point is I lost the joy.

Rowing became a chore. Something I did because I thought I should (it would look soooo great on the CV). I also threw myself into coaching a younger crew, because my happiest memories were of my coach and the cheerfulness with which she encouraged us to push ourselves in first year.

But when I got the inevitable 3rd in my second year, the first time in my life my grades had slipped below an A*, or A, or 1st, I just stopped.

And that was it for me. D-day for weight gain and eventual obesity.

I’ve often thought in life that I can only really be good at a certain number of things at a time. At school I prioritised grades, music and sometimes on being thin. When I started uni it was rowing and friendships. Recently it’s been building a healthy relationship and doing well at work.

For all the people out there who manage to juggle all these things at one time I applaud you. By starting a proper diet, one that needs real commitment, I’m adding a ball. I also want to add exercise. Four balls.

Is it possible? Not sure. But I do know that I have juggled these particular balls before. I can juggle them again.

My hunger pangs are beginning to fade away, I think I may be headed towards the holy fat-burning goal of ketosis. So it seems like the perfect time to reach for that rowing dream again. Maybe not right away, but that’s what I’m going to aim for. Today I had a half hour workout before work, and built up a sweat just walking, so there’s a long way to go.

For now all I have to say is a big sayonara to the memory of a shitty year.

Exercise? Bring it on.

Post Butler Head

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