is it okay: to not exercise?
After 23 years I have finally given up hoping to be bitten by a radioactive spider and/or waiting for my mutant powers to kick in, and have grudgingly resigned myself to the fact that I will actually need to exercise in order to be fit.
This isn’t the first time I’ve tried. Every so often I will look at other people running, or the one biscuit left in the packet I bought that morning, and think ‘I’m tired’ (about the former) and ‘I’m going to die of heart disease at thirty five’ (about the latter).
When enough of these components gather together, I go hunt out my virtually pristine running shoes, throw on an old t-shirt, and hit up the treadmill. I don’t want to go to a real gym because next to the Lorna Jane wearing super-athletes who can run for ten hours without breaking a sweat, I look like the frumpy hoarder aunt who emerges once every three years to buy large quantities of cat food. It probably wouldn’t actually matter anyway since I would, at least at this stage, only be exercising alongside them for about 1.5 minutes, but the collapsing on the floor, holding myself and crying about how rapidly I’d die in The Hunger Games would probably freak everyone right the way out.
So, instead, I wake up at a time where darkness still shrouds my intentions and slink off to play the non Darth Vader half of the use-the-force-to-choke scene whilst my reflection watches on, wondering pityingly why I would do this to myself. It’s pretty unfun, but so is feeling like instead of having a heart to pump blood around your body, you have a chubby hampster running on a wheel getting progressively more tired. Sometimes it cries softly.
I’ve been pretty blasé about my health in the past. The reasons I’ve cited are wide and varied – I’m young, so I can just deal with it later, healthy eating is for old people, and, I’m relatively lucky in that my metabolism allowed me in first year uni to eat McDonalds literally every day without suffering any visible repercussions.
As a result I will reach for that extra biscuit, eat ALL the cheesecake, and then sit on the internet looking at thirty second videos of cats who in that time do more exercise than I will in a week.
I can joke about it, but what I’m doing to my body is damaging in a way comparable to smoking, and yet no one is putting pictures of fatty arteries or colon cancer on chip packets. There aren’t signs with a giant red line through the golden arches, or increased taxes on products containing animal fats.
Despite the fact that junk food is setting you down the path to strokes, heart attacks and a whole ream of cancers, most people’s issues with it are tied up with personal aesthetics. At twelve I was at a friend’s house and her Mum gave us chocolates. When she ate one herself however, she looked at us and said ‘a second on the lips, and eternity on the hips.’ Too much junk food makes you fat, but it seems if we can’t see the effects on the outside, we can just ignore what’s going on inside.
It’s scarily easy to do.
When I look at it from this angle, it’s worth risking the awkwardness of being unnecessarily sweaty and gaspy around strangers, or giving up the occasional sleep in. Hey, it may even be worth wearing shorts in an otherwise trouser-free life.
So, for now, while I remember, I’m going to keep dragging myself out of bed and furtively avoid other people whilst I flail about struggling to make a distance that five year olds can do ten times over without batting an eyelid. Maybe when I start to make the inevitable excuses (it’s cold, I’m tired, where are my keys and shorts are the worst) I can tell myself it will be worth it because otherwise I’ll find myself at fifty with a McHeart as the centre of an unhappy meal and I’ll be hatin’ it.