The people who know me well, or the people who follow my Instagram feed (all 68 of them) or my now defunct Facebook profile, think, I’m sure, that keeping fit and eating well comes easily to me. That somehow, it is easier for me to do it than for most people, them included. My Mum actually said to me (I was trying to tell her that faddy diets don’t work and she just needs to go back to basics) that “it’s easy for you.”
This comment could not be further from the truth. I was thinking about this today when I was out running, battling up a hill and chanting under my breath “nearly there, nearly there, nearly there,” in time with my foot fall as I looked longingly at my finish point. And that wasn’t the only difficult part of the run; getting out at all was a monumental effort. I was originally meant to train at 6.30am but I didn’t sleep well and pressed the snooze button (this happens frequently) so I had to re-think my plan of action. As I was getting my daughter ready for school I was back and forth with whether I should come home and do a workout DVD after the school run or I should have a run around the park outside of the school (or should I just leave it? I was tired after all). I had a hard time deciding which was the lesser of the two evils.
I decided I’d put my running gear on and see how I felt when I got there. So I drove to the park and started the two 1.5 mile circuits; the first of which I flew round, the second, well, that’s when the chanting and the bargaining came in (“just run to that tree, then you can walk for a bit”). I could barely lift my legs at one point but I’d just overtaken a couple of mums from the school who were taking a walk and I didn’t feel like I could stop. The endorphins kicked in when I finished and I felt great but up until that point it had been pretty torturous. Every run is the same. I can count on one hand how many runs have been easy, honestly.
Tomorrow I’m booked in for circuit class, same as I was last week. Did I make it last week? No, did I heck. Will I make it tomorrow? It depends on how persistent the voice in my head is telling me that I’m too tired or that I’ll do a bit of yoga instead or I’ll make it up tomorrow. It’s pretty powerful. The rest of the week will be much the same.
The people who know me see the girl who has ran two marathons. What they didn’t see was me during my first one, crying the whole way round due to massively underestimating the challenge I’d set myself and the lack of training, being overtaken by elderly women power walking. It was that bad that on our return to the hotel, my sister (and running partner) threw her running trainers in the bin and didn’t run again for at least a year.
The same with my diet; I have struggled with that my whole adult life pretty much. This is mostly because I love my food but also because I come from a generation who was forced to finish everything on their plate whether they were still hungry or not. Basically, I’m greedy. It wasn’t so bad when I was younger, I could pretty much eat what I wanted and get away with it but as I progress through my thirties, that has definitely changed. My body is so responsive to food that within an hour of eating some chocolate or a bowl of pasta, my stomach bloats like a football and I get a bad case of wind (sorry, too much information I know). That doesn’t stop me eating either of course, but I’m now at a point in my life where I can be more moderate and accept the side effects when I do over-indulge. That doesn’t mean that I never loose it completely though and eat three bags of crisps one after the other, followed by whatever other naughties I can find in the fridge. Like with the exercising, it is a battle of wills between me, myself and I. I just opened the fridge now and was faced with a box of Christmas left over after eights, but I know if I start I won’t stop and I won’t feel good for it. This time. Next time I might make the wrong decision.
My diet now is plant based; I cook everything from scratch and approximately 80% of the week my diet is great. The other 20% I eat what I want and try to enjoy it without guilt. That said, I can be completely caught of guard and loose it – that’s OK, I just pick myself up and try to do better the next day.
So when people say it is easy for me, I have to laugh Yes, I have built up good habits and I’m mostly successful where my diet and exercise is concerned but to me it honestly feels like an endless battle.