The Fun Loving Girl’s Guide To Fitness

fitness.jpg1Isn’t it a basic instinct to want to do as little physical labour as humanly possible? Why make life more difficult than it actually needs to be? Why did humans even bother inventing such fantastic contraptions as cars and bikes and electronic wheelchairs if we were just going to ruddy well carry on running everywhere anyway?!

That was the philosophy which enabled the formerly chubby Sarah to chortle at the notion of voluntarily making oneself sweat to the point of utter saturation. The Sarah who dreaded sports day as if it were the plague and frequently feigned sickness to avoid participation in PE.

During my early university days I was no different – the only exercise I did was my legendary dance floor routine (I’ll show you another time). But sadly this was insufficient in preventing the 54672920473 (approx.) calories I consumed a day (mostly wine) from clinging on to my increasingly buxom body. I looked terrible. I felt even worse. I was actually making life far more difficult than it needed to be because of a lack of exercise. This was a bizarre notion which somewhat befuddled me.

Reluctantly, I started running. Away from the pasta, the wine and the regret and into my prosperous future. And now, somehow, in a bizarre turn of events, exercise has become somewhat intrinsic to my happiness.

Pinned upon my wall are a set of (very lax) rules by which I try to adhere. Do the same if you are so inclined, if you are not, by all means have another brownie and ignore me. Either way, I just want you to be happy.

Set realistic expectations

No, not Kate Moss. Just me out for a run.
No, not Kate Moss. Just me out for a run.

While I’m still maintaining that I’m one run away from being Kate Moss (three tops), I do also have some more realistic expectations. Visualise yourself achieving your goals and stay motivated. (In my vision I can literally see myself morphing into Kate Moss the moment I cross the finish line). Seriously though, let’s do this – book a bloody marathon (and by marathon I obviously mean 5k tops).

Don’t compare yourself to everyone else

– That’s just silly. I made the foolish mistake of going for a run with my very tall, very fit boyfriend. I couldn’t keep up, so I gave up. That is the wrong attitude ladies. Set your own pace, do your own thing, make your own rules (whilst obviously following mine, because they’re fabulous). Rumour has it you’re pretty marvellous. So strive to be the best version of YOU you can be, not the best version of somebody else (unless that somebody else is Kate Moss, in which case, fair enough, carry on).

A seriously funky playlist is non-negotiable

I like to change mine up every month. I love Phil Collins as much as the next person (love you Phil), but when running to the same tune again and again I really just wish that I could hurry love. At the moment Rudimental is the man telling me I’m a cool, strong, independent woman who’s not giving in. I often prove him wrong but nevertheless appreciate his efforts.

Keep on Running

Once you’ve left uni recreational drug usage and excessive consumption of alcohol is no longer an acceptable pastime…. (Not that it ever was don’t worry Mum). Ever heard of endorphins? They’ll be your new addiction. The moment they kick in all the gut wrenching pain and misery seems completely worth it. And, if you’re anything like me – you’re going to need all the positive energy you can muster – in order to cope with the impending sense of doom you’ll feel each time you get another rejection letter. Stay active. Stay strong.

Funk it up

Doing the same thing everyday is incredibly dull don’t you think? Sometimes I can’t think of anything worse than putting my trainers on and actually going outside. Luckily I resolutely stand by the fact that dancing alone in your room for twenty minutes to Uptown Funk on repeat absolutely DOES constitute exercise. Get your groove on girl.

Or, if you enjoy having obscenities yelled at you by a tattooed ex marine across a sweaty room (I mean, let’s be honest here – who doesn’t?) then get yourself to Bootcamp or HIIT or something equally heinous. (But ye be warned – if you dare laugh, you will be severely punished, apparently it’s not actually supposed to be funny…)

Don’t deprive yourself of the stuff you love

All fun loving girls enjoy a G&T and a bowl of pasta now and again and should never apologise for that. Fitness is fun, but so is food. Everything in moderation ladies… (Unless we’re talking about coconut macaroons/red wine in which case it’s everything in vast quantities). I enjoy food so much more when I know I actually need it, and after sweating about half of your own body weight, you’ve earned the right to eat chips if you want them. (Not that you have to earn the right to eat chips – the right to chips is paramount with the right to life and I can’t believe The European Convention on Human Rights has not yet been amended to reflect this).

Hydration and Meditation

If only we gulped water with the hearty vigour with which we drink wine. We’d all feel so fresh, so alive! Chug on that aqua the way you chug on a VK at Revs and you’ll be ready and rearing to go.

I don’t mean meditation in the “oooooooooom” sense, I don’t think I could sit still long enough. My “meditation” is more of a combination between relaxation and appreciation. As you cool down look around you – everything seems so much more vibrant – take in that feeling and you’ll want to repeat it.

meditation

I love to actually look around, to take a moment to appreciate the fact that I’m outdoors – free and not a fat person enslaved to the sofa (it was a close call though). Even though exercise can be gut wrenchingly painful, thinking about the alternative enables you to appreciate the pain and the misery.

Be glad that it’s hard work, it makes it so much more satisfying when you get to the top. If it were easy everyone would do it – it wouldn’t be desirable at all. Don’t wait, liberate yourself from the clutches of the couch. If you are able to laugh through the sweat, the pain and the tears now – you’ll be doing so for years.   

…Well, that’s what I keep telling myself anyway. Get out there gals! And never never never feel bad about having a chocolate brownie or a bowl of chips.

Let’s Talk About Texts Baby

 It started in year eight. I was an easily influenced 12 year old. It was all about msn in those days. If you were using a word comprised of more than four letters and one vowel you’d be LOL’d out of the chat room. And if you were ignoring a boy in the playground and rushing home at 3.20pm to stalk him on bebo – you were probably going out.

We all appreciated a well-placed emoji to express all manner of feeling– a veritable smörgåsbord of emotion: frowny face for when you’re moody, sad face = needy, happy face when desperately trying to exert air of joviality and festive cheer etc etc.

Then came the game changer, year nine. A strange and confusing time. There were boys, there was booze… and we all started Capitalising Every Single Word In Every Single Sentence In a Bizarre Attempt To Assert That We Were Adults Capable Of Formality In An Online Environment. Emojis were out. As was txt spk – it was now perceived as lazy and so year 8 darling.

Enter the teenage years. I know, I know, we’d all rather forget. But sometimes it’s necessary to look back in order to realise how far you have come. Texting was now a completely legitimate means of communication – even my parents were doing it (while we’re on the topic – mum – LOL does not mean lots of love).

Now, I don’t want to boast or anything, but I’ve received quite a few texts in my time – the sub-texts of which range from business to pleasure to parental concern whilst MIA at university: “alive or dead?” was the most frequent. I’ve also, in my time sent a fair few messages – to express displeasure, make plans, foster romance etc… But honestly, 12 years on and I still find the whole thing to be utterly bewildering.

I’ll bite the bullet and eventually actually send a text which I’ve taken the time to compose properly – agonizing over grammatical correctness, accidental innuendo and appropriate number of kisses (minefield. I usually go with zero to air on the side of safety). I will then proceed to stare at my phone like a deranged psychopath until I receive a response. It’s exhausting. I am exhausted of misinterpreting messages, confusing signals – the English language simply cannot be accurately conveyed via text message – no matter how wonderful the technology. And when you have a phone which autocorrects the word fuck to duck… It just makes me want to write FUUUUUUUUCK. Which it then autocorrects to something completely irrelevant like bungalow.

My addiction to social media has created a multitude of social conundrums; I could be charming via text and completely ridiculous in real life. But I’m all about honesty – I’m fully aware that I am a ridiculous excuse for a human being in the flesh – it seems only right to reflect that via text.

So, this is my defence of yr 8 saz and her improper use of English when using a portable telephonic device. -I’m bringin’ it back baby. I am a child of the 21st Century, I love to text, but I don’t live to text okay. This is my campaign to keep texting trivial, a boob photo here, a LOL there – all perfectly legitimate. To text a friend going through some form of existential crises saying you ‘care for’/’are there for them’ seems to me like a huge fucking (or do I mean bungalow?) oxymoron.

You cannot ‘be there’ for somebody over a screen. So can we stop pretending that texting is a legitimate means of communication and take it for what it is please? Convenience over compassion and ease over understanding. It is the laziest form of communication and therefore deserves nothing more than the laziest form of language.

By the way, I am a complete hypocrite because I have definitely done that on numerous occasions. But NO MORE.

I defend text slang because I really value language – the use of mouths and tongues to create sounds, which convey messages for others to understand. I think it vital to differentiate between virtual and real communication – because the two are becoming increasingly interlinked.It’s taken me 21 years and I’m still struggling to master the art of conversation. Speech still occasionally falls from my mouth in incomprehensible slurs. I need to practice talking for fear that I will soon lose the ability. So please help before this becomes an epidemic – CALL TODAY.

Keep texting trivial. Txt 4 fun. But if you want to be genuinely compassionate, talk.

Over and Out

xxxxxxxxxxx

Fall in love with Monday. Fall in love with life.

I have just had the most fantastically excellent weekend. It’s now Monday morning, I’m in the library after an hour long commute and I’m thinking nostalgically about better days (aka yesterday).

For the poorly organised (me) Monday comes as quite a nasty shock. Abruptly shattering the uninhibited feeling of freedom and chaos we can enjoy guilt free at the weekend. One is suddenly expected to apply structure to life after two days of drunkenness and debauchery. This is a great feat; one which separates the men from the mice, the winners from the losers, the risers from the snoozers.

I fear I may be the latter on all accounts: A vigilant snoozer. I wake filled with dread and fear about the impending day… impending week… impending future: that deep black chasm. And quickly decide that the best thing to do is, naturally, hit the snooze button so that the feeling of doom is delayed (and enlarged) until 5 minutes before I simply must get up and sprint to my lecture in order to avoid the late again tradition I seem to have grown accustomed to in my 18 years of education.

I then clumsily lollop from my bed, locate my wrinkled, inside out jeans from their designated floor spot, select the blouse with the least obvious stains, haphazardly slap on foundation and blusher to mask my dreary complexion, throw notebook in bag and SHE’S OFF. But on my 1144th Monday in this wonderful world (approx… I googled, could be wrong) I have decided – that I’ve encountered about 1144 too many miserable wake ups.

So I’ve made a pivotal decision, one which will make me a much better, happier person. I’m going to force myself, kicking and screaming, to actually enjoy Monday. Well everyday actually, if possible. Because I don’t want to live for the weekend. I want to live for the everyday. Yes I am obviously living for those wonderful moments, that feeling of alleviation as you sip that first glass of wine on a Friday night. That feeling of hilarity as you gulp your third. But I’m also living for the little intricacies. Those unappreciated, overlooked moments. The in between bits. I’m replacing the dreary with the cheery, through changing my state of mind and maybe being just a little bit more organised.

I’m still dreaming (literally, lying in bed, dreaming) of the day my eyes ping open at 6.30am as John Humphries fills my rested head with intellectual tit-bits on the today show. I then bound from the bed resounding MONDAY, COME AT ME. I’m ready for you.

But I’m trying, I’m striving to make Monday (and thus, life) better. I pull on my lycra and pop out for fifteen minutes of fresh morning air. I actually appreciate the chill, the cold breeze as I feel my cheeks start to flush. I am refreshed and incredibly alive as I bound up the stairs – the lift is for losers.

I’ve pre-selected a crisp white blouse (no stains) and my jeans are clean and neatly folded. Getting dressed isn’t a chore anymore, I relish this. I apply makeup – it seems no amount of good will/positivity can inhibit my innate dissatisfaction with my appearance. But I find this morning ritual somewhat therapeutic, comforting.

My bag is neatly packed. Not overstuffed with papers and books I’ll never even open. I took three minutes last night to think about what I needed, to organise my affairs.

I’ll put on some music, no not Coldplay – sorry Chris, not this time. I’m obviously talking about Uptown Funk. And suddenly, I feel it. Excitement about the impending day. Is this love? I think so.

I’m enthused, excited to learn, to interact with people. I’m actually a little early so I get a cup of tea and I smile at strangers (WARNING – do not do this on any form of TFL, for risk of being punched and/or arrested). I am alive. And happy, so very happy to be so. The future: Still an empty chasm, but now it doesn’t seem black and scary, it’s glorious uncertainty – it’s excitement and colour and adventure all swirled together.

This is the archetypal Monday. The Monday of all Mondays. But little has changed but my attitude toward it. I still have the same jobs to do, essays to write, coursework to submit, classes to attend, meetings, worries, expectations. But I approach them with positivity, and somehow that positivity seems to seep into the work itself.

Sadly, Monday isn’t something you can just spontaneously fall in love with, with great ease. Like a Friday or a tub of Ben and Jerry’s or a man at a push. When it comes to Monday (as it always does), it’s mind over matter. You must make a conscious effort to fall – but then again, the course of true love never did run smooth. Good things are worth working for. And you know what, even if you don’t make that 7am jog, or your blouse is stained or you’re late for work again. Just remember – if it weren’t for Monday, we couldn’t have Friday. And for that Monday, I lo ve you.

Now let’s do this thing.

New Year Same Me

In keeping with tradition, I’m a little late in resolving to change this year. As much as I try to protest otherwise, I am a creature of habit, and hailed in 2015 the same way I did 2003 – when I was 13 and had 2 glasses of mulled wine at Aunty Deb’s board game and cheese night – drunk.

I sway to auld lang syne, slurring the words I don’t know and belting the ones I do, I think what a wonderful world it would be if, instead of resolving to be better on this solitary night once a year, we do so everyday. But I am drunk and delusional. Then the band (2 middle aged blokes with guitars) starts playing Sex on Fire and my profound thought process is ousted and concentration now being poured into eccentric out of time dancing with my mum. Fabulous start to the year, I think.

1st Jan 2015, 8.30am. It’s dark and dreary outside. I begin to regain consciousness, dry mouthed and in my sister’s bed. Happy New Year Folks, I think – hoping that the rain tapping menacingly against the window isn’t pathetic fallacy and doesn’t represent the misery that will ensue through the course of the oncoming year.

I lie in bed waiting for the anxiety and guilt at having entered the New Year drunk again to subside. I think about the changes I need to make in order to have a more prosperous 365 days than the last. And muse over last night’s occurrences, convincing myself that I was the funny kind of drunk. Then titter as I recollect one fantastically spontaneous moment of utter happiness…

I had been elected hostess again. It happens every year. My remaining group of 5 girl friends from school and I spend a good chunk of the Christmas period recollecting how hideous previous New Years Eves have been and vowing not to make the same mistakes again. We all secretly know I’m going to offer my (parents) house up, but I still like to resist at first – just to assert my own free will.

This stubbornness means that each year, about 10 minutes before my guests arrive, I realise I have organised nothing and have only a questionable pot of hummus and some sugar snap peas to offer up as party food. In a mad rush I venture out to buy pizzas which I subsequently burn.

We are all chatting and drinking and eating raw sugar snap peas. This will not do, I think as I lug my 3rd glass of merlot. This is sodding New Years Eve. This one night sets the precedent for the whole year. I thus challenge my guests to an epic battle of singstar. Most look at me as though I have just announced that we are all to prance through Combe St Nicholas naked whilst belting Anarchy in the UK backwards. However some are more obliging.

There are four of us at first. Me, Georgia and two boyfriends of friends. I convince myself that I am Aretha Franklin reincarnate, sadly I do not convince the others. Nevertheless we are having the most terrific time, each clapping and booing one another where appropriate. Slowly, the others seep in to the living room – no doubt lured by my sirens call.

It’s the unexpected happiness which is the most genuine

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girls warbling – artist’s impression

We’ve opted the shuffle setting – so as not to dispute over which song to choose next – we simply let fate decide. Fate, somewhat unexpectedly, selects a popular hit from the naughties – Pink’s Just Like A Pill. I would never have chosen such a song for what was such a wonderful moment, but that’s just the point. It’s the unexpected happiness which is the most genuine. None of us had planned this night. But we’re all here, together, belting out the lyrics – which we all, incidentally, know completely by heart. Arm in arm. This is my kind of party – haphazard, completely disorganised – all of us just inhabiting the happiness and not worrying about what happens next.

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group warbling – artist’s impression

– What happens next is that we all stumble up the hill and into the local pub where my parents have taken refuge with their friends. We all dance together and enjoy much more unplanned hilarity. – For instance the moment my darling dad kisses each of us on the cheek as we hail in the new year – then get’s around to my dearest drunken friend Georgia – who, not realising that it is midnight – pushes him away in absolute outrage.

As I reminisce about that spontaneous stint of singing and our exuberant dancing and emphatic laughing, I reconsider my resolution. We are so focused on change, on bettering ourselves, on looking to the future, on planning, that we forget about the now. Right now – this is life, the moment we inhabit right now.

Over the course of 2015, instead of looking for ways to change myself, I resolve to firstly, appreciate what I have – all the wonders around me. In Chronicles Vol.1, Dylan wrote 

Even if you don’t have all the things you want, be grateful for the things you don’t have that you don’t want”.

Not every day can be an all singing, dancing, laughing, bathed in sunlight, love romp, free for all festival of lights – sounds good though doesn’t it? But if you seek it, there is always pleasure to be found. There is always something to smile about.

Of course, we should resolve to be better, to be kinder, to be happier, but don’t let your planning for the future prevent you from living in the now.