Resolutions, endorphins and budgie-smugglers

I realise that this is the week that the whole world turns to exercise. It’s the start of January, resolutions made and new leaves turned over. Commencement of a no-alcohol month, Banuary, Dryathlon, whatever you want to call it. All to be forgotten come February 1st.

I’ve been exercising again too but not due to the arrival of 2013, it’s actually 3 months now since my spinal surgery and therefore I am officially declaring myself fit. I’m fed up, feeling chubby and low. I met with my surgeon and his advice was to continue to take it easy but to return to whatever I was doing before my back burst and not to worry. His only caveat was not to take up weight-lifting or body-building. So, I’ll put my bottle of creosote fake tan away and leave the bench pressing to Jodie Marsh.

I started swimming a couple of weeks ago, braving the local pool in order to get myself some of that low-impact exercise stuff. I have to say that I find the pool a bit manky and have to do my best to block out the thoughts of what I might be swimming in. It’s badly in need of some TLC and the staff aren’t exactly a fabulous shining beacon of inspiration, given that I spotted one of the lifeguards hiding in the staff room, inhaling crisps. It’s a good thing I didn’t drown and put him off his cheese and onions. My worst nightmare would be receiving CPR from someone who’s just munched some Scampi Fries. Anyway, that aside, I don’t like being in swimwear. Who does? I wouldn’t walk down the street in my undies (not after last time…..just kidding Mum) so why would I want to walk all the way from the changing rooms to the water, having to turn at the last-minute to get down the ladder, thus making sure everyone can see my fat bum and delightful angry-red surgery scar? Once in, I swim off, breast stroke as I can’t do any of the other ones. Well, actually, I can do front crawl, I just can’t do the breathing bit. I tend to hold my breath and with David Hasselhoff in the cupboard stuffing his face with snacks, it’s not a great time to sink. I get myself into a race, in the midst of 5 men. I spot the one whose speed is closest to mine and try to beat him but get caught in a tidal wave in the process and drink half the pool. Yuck. Then in comes another guy, let’s call him Stig Of The Dump. He’s hairy, scrawny and wearing budgie-smugglers. I swim at speed to the other end of the pool. I think to myself “I wouldn’t get in the bath with this guy so why the hell am I in the pool with him?”. I feel a bit sick, hoping that they’ve at least remembered to top-up the chlorine levels. I get out, 40 lengths done, and tiptoe back to the changing room (thus lowering my chances of contracting verrucas as my soles aren’t touching the floor). I get changed, attempt to dry my hair with the *ahem* hairdryer (I think the brand name for this particular hairdryer was probably “blowing out a tiny candle at 100 metres”). Hair still soaked, I flee and get back into the safe haven that is my car. I would walk home but the 40 lengths have nearly crucified me.

In short, swimming’s not for me, so if you are reading this “Eric The Eel”, chill out, I’m no threat.

I’m trying to walk lots too. It’s good for you, especially when pushing the weight of an almost-2-year-old in the buggy. The thing is, she’s not that keen on being in it for long anymore. I end up singing out loud, much to the amusement of passing normal people, or pointing out animals/buses/cars/planes. Anything to get her to cooperate. It never works, she wants to walk now and we all know how that ends. I try to feed her snacks to distract her from the fact she’s being used for exercise. But then I feel bad that people might say “that lady looks fabulous and fit for a 34-year-old-mother-of-one but look at the size of the kid, what a unit”.

So, the only thing for it was to take a big leap and reignite my love for running. I’ve missed my beloved running group so much since I had to leave last June (I’d been running for 4 months with a slipped disc. Oops!). At 0830 on Saturday morning, I left the house, clad in my running gear. I slunk down the driveway to get into the car, hoping the neighbours wouldn’t spot me looking like a burst sausage with Nike branding. I got to our starting point, the Cliffs Pavillion in Southend. It’s called the Cliffs Pavillion because it’s a pavillion built on cliffs. And that means running on bits that are FAR from flat. I huffed and puffed my way through the run, the circuits, skipping, planks and a gazillion steps. My back felt pretty good, hurrah! But next morning, my oh my. Everything hurt, including the insides of my elbows, what’s that all about? It was worth it because the endorphins were back. The happy, I-feel-like-a-million-dollars buzz that can only be found when careering around the banks of the Thames Estuary in January with the loveliest of people. How I have missed it.

I’m reclaiming a bit of normality and enjoying the fact that, though I spent 9 months of last year in severe pain and in a drug-fuelled haze that Irvine Welsh would be proud of, I can now actually get on with life. My only New Year’s resolutions are to no longer take my health for granted, to seek out endorphins and not to give a monkeys what I look like in lycra.

What are yours?

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