18: Covert Ops

I was going to tell you all about this great way I have found of exercising discreetly. Inspired by that scene in the movie, Rocky, where he trots up and down a flight of stars in order to get in shape, I have been roaming my local parks to find fabulous flights of stairs and I have been running up and down them. It is brilliant, if knackering exercise. But what I was going to say I liked best about it was the fact that if someone else came along while I was doing this, I could simply pretend that I was walking up the stairs and not actually exercising.

One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s quite a bizarre thought, really. It got me pondering. Why is it so important to me that people do not realise that I am actually out there, exercising? Is it because fat people exercising are often viewed as figures of ridicule and scorn? (Why IS that? Surely doing something about your problem should be applauded, not derided?) Or is it something else? Less to do with fat shamers and more to do with fat shame?

You see, I am deeply ashamed of being fat. I wish I weren’t. Like the hairy German girls I mentioned in a previous blog, I am in awe of fat people who appear confident enough not to give a toss about their size. And the truth is, if you met me in real life, you might well mistake me for one of those people.

In real life, I would never in a 100 years admit to you that I am unhappy about my weight. I am more likely to make jokes about it and be faintly scornful of people who are too focused on their appearance and don’t “enjoy” all the food, drink and fun that life has to offer.

Yes, I am a big fat hypocrite as well as a big fat person. I hate being fat. And exercising in public is like an admission that I don’t like my looks and want to change them. It is also an admission that I am not very successful at it and perhaps all the fat shamers out there are right, and I am just a weak-willed, unself-disciplined, lazy, rather stupid slob.

Of course, what I should do now, is acknowledge how nonsensical this position is and get my chubby butt out there and join exercise classes and run along the road and basically just get over myself. But do you know what? I am not going to. I just don’t feel like it. Instead, I am going to continue trying to find covert exercise opportunities. I am going to break into my shuffling run only on deserted woodland paths. I am going to trot up and down outdoor stairs and huff and puff up steep hills. I am going to do these things in clothing that can pass as ordinary, everyday clothing, not specific workout gear. You are not going to know that the sports bra under my shirt is so tough it could probably be used as a weapon. My trainers are black and can easily pass as loafers. When you walk past me, you will see a chubby woman out for a walk with her dog. Unremarkable.

forest-path-image-by-foto-rabe-from-pixabay-.jpg
Image by Foto-Rabe from Pixabay

I suppose this would be a bit trickier if you encounter me in the pool as it is tough to pretend that one just happens to be wearing a swimsuit while grinding out length after length in the water. But the beauty of the pool is that you won’t really be able to see me. Most of me will be underwater and I will be wearing goggles – a great disguise. In fact, I had an absolutely brilliant swim this week in the big 50m training pool. It was practically deserted and everyone who was there was focused solely on getting their lengths done. Plus, the changing rooms have direct access to the pool, so a minimal walk of shame in cozzie before getting in the water. Result!

And my fears about all the serious swimmers being lean, mean, fit machines were completely unfounded. In fact, I definitely saw someone who was fatter than me there. She was one of the enviable “don’t give a toss” tribe and seemingly completely comfortable in her well-padded skin. Turned out she was a swimming instructor for very little kids and probably spends all day in her cozzie. Now that is impressive.

swimming-Image by skeeze from Pixabay
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

17: Diving In

I am so grateful to the person who asked how my swim went in the comments last week. It meant that I was simply too embarrassed to confess that I had chickened out after all, and I just had to dive in after all.

My initial plan had been to go swimming on Wednesday morning, but I managed to come up with an excuse not to go then. Then a friend offered me a ticket to the preview of the Anthony Gormley exhibition at The Royal Academy on Thursday. Well, obviously I couldn’t turn that down, could I? Surely my mental health and emotional fulfilment is just as important as my physical state? Fridays are not an option for me swimming-wise (certain immovable appointments filling practically the whole day) so that just left the weekend. Thanks to that comment, though, no amount of wriggling would get me off the hook, so away I went on Sunday evening for a swim. Fat Fella and Jelly Bean came along, too.

swimmer-Image by skeeze from Pixabay
No, sadly not my fabulous toned upper arms. Maybe one day? — Image by skeeze from Pixabay

I have to say, it wasn’t great. That new swimming costume might hide a bit of my worst excesses, but I was still painfully embarrassed appearing poolside with every lump and bump on show. The pool, which Fat Fella said was always quiet on Sunday evenings, was in fact rather busy. I dived in and remembered just how much I hate swimming in public pools. They taste revolting and I am so conscious of all those bodily fluids swishing about in them. Yuk! I find they are also usually too warm, which makes them seem that much more unsanitary.

On the plus side, I got a really good workout despite having to dodge divebombing teenagers and dogpaddling tots. I swam 50 lengths (that’s 1.25 km/over three quarters of a mile). Surprise, surprise I was a bit fitter than I thought! I love the way the water supports my body while swimming, so I don’t feel that I am battering my joints. Swimming also remains the one physical activity that I can do pretty well and don’t need to feel any embarrassment about my performance, even though I am a fatty. Plus, there’s none of that hot and sweaty flopping about that comes with running, for example.

You will be glad to hear, though, that the heat and sweatiness of running did not put me off going for another dog stumble/jog yesterday morning. I have found a route that is quite discreet – no one to witness the sweaty flopping – and includes lots of hills and stairs that keep my heart rate up, while giving me a chance to “rest” as I walk instead of run up them. For my other dog walks last week when I was not officially “jogging”, I managed to speed things up overall and got a lot warmer and puffier than usual.

trail-Image by serenasampson from Pixabay
No need to bother with a stair climber in the gym when you have the real thing to run up. — Image by serenasampson from Pixabay

The “cleanerobics” were also a success What a great full body workout they are. Weights (hauling the vacuum cleaner and buckets of water up and down stairs), stretching (dusting the cobwebs on my very high ceilings), upper body work (vigorous floor scrubbing), and abdominals (bending, pushing and pulling). Again, after three hours I was a sweaty mess, but felt fantastic.

Tomorrow, I am going to a “proper” training pool – a 50 m pool, which is colder, cleaner and with fewer people mucking about. Hopefully this will make up for the fact that being a fatty in that context is much rarer and thus much more self-conscious making. But I shall be brave, suck in my gut and dive in as quickly as possible. Wish me luck, please.

swimming-Image by StockSnap from Pixabay
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

16: Ready, steady, go!

I have come up with an action plan that I think is going to work for me. Obviously, it will need tweaking and refining, but I believe it is a pretty good starting off point.

For now, I am only going to try to add three activity days into my week, with the idea that I will increase this as my fitness improves.

Dog walk/ shuffle/ jog/ run

run-Image by susanne906 from Pixabay
Image by susanne906 from Pixabay

Wow, have I ever been kidding myself about my current levels of activity? I had been feeling fairly sanguine about the amount I exercised because, as I have (frequently) mentioned, I walk my dog for an hour every weekday. At some point these walks may have been brisk, active affairs, but obviously, over time, they have become little more than leisurely ambles. When I put on a pair of running shoes and a sports bra yesterday morning and proceeded to try and pick up the pace from a walk to a bit of a shuffling jog, I was appalled at just how unfit I have become. After only a minute of downhill jogging, my heart was pounding out of my chest and I was forced to slow down to a walk. I persevered, however, and mixed brisk walking with short bursts of shuffling and quite a bit of hill-climbing. I returned home sweaty, but pleased with myself for making a start. I hope to gradually increase the amount of shuffling I do and eventually increase my speed to a jog and even, dare I say it, a run.

Cleanerobics

cleaning-supplies Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay
Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay

I do a weekly big clean of my whole house. This usually involves a fair amount of exercise but, like dog walking, can be done at quite a slow pace if that’s what I feel inclined to do. However, if I pick up the pace and energy, I reckon I could turn a cleaning session into an excellent aerobic workout. I am going to try doing aerobic exercise steps while I am standing at the sink washing dishes to keep my heart rate raised. I’ll run up the stairs. I’ll get down on my hands and knees and scrub the floors instead of mopping them. Maybe I’ll dance while vacuuming. The hope is that not only will my cleaning session take less time, but it will be more thorough and I’ll end up with a sparkling house — win win!

Update: I had a go at this this morning and I am knackered! I must have looked pretty weird, hopping about my house like someone with a dubious itch or with an urgent call of nature, but I definitely got my heart rate raised and some serious cleaning done.

Swimming

swimming Image by David Mark from Pixabay
Sadly, this is not a picture of me swimming. But who knows? Maybe one day… — Image by David Mark from Pixabay

I really enjoy playing sports, but on the whole I am not terribly good at them. One thing I have always been pretty competent at, though, is swimming. I often think I am more at home in water than on land. Despite this, I have managed to find reasons not to swim regularly. The most obvious problem is having to appear in public in a swimming costume. A fat woman’s nightmare. Absolutely no way to hide the blubber with a lovely loose-fitting shirt or anything like that. I need to get over this nonsense of course. The truth is no-one is in the least bit interested in looking at me and if they do, so what? They are unlikely to start laughing and pointing, are they?

The other thing that puts me off (don’t bother reading this if you are a man as you really won’t relate) is having to keep myself properly depilated. I so wish I was one of those fabulous women who simply do not give a toss about all of that hair-removing malarkey. As a wide-eyed twenty something travelling in Europe for the first time, I remember looking in awe at the German girls on the beach with their hairy bits, not so much on display, but not even considered. Sadly, with the best will in the world, I am just not that person. I have been thoroughly conditioned to find hairy bits unacceptable and have spent years enduring razor rashes, nasty chemicals, painful, tearing waxing, and those horrible little torture machines that rip the hairs out one by one. Apparently most young women now just have it all lasered off, which I suppose is sensible, if a touch expensive and time-consuming. I certainly am not bothered enough to go down that route, and as of today I don’t need to because I have just purchased a very sporty swimming costume with legs! Hurray. Problem solved.

Does this mean that I have run out of excuses not to start swimming tomorrow? I have to say that I am really pushed for time at the moment, and I am so unfit that I will probably drown, and, and, and… There are always excuses if you really want them, aren’t there?

swimming Image by skeeze from Pixabay
Aren’t these swimming costumes with legs great? They hide a multitude of sins. — Image by skeeze from Pixabay

I am going to stop at this point. Since first thinking of these activities, I have come up with a few other good options, but I am going to see how I get on with these for now.

15: Onwards and Upwards

I have been silent for a while because it made no sense to me to try and write about a journey to better health, while feeling as lousy as I have been for the past few weeks. But at last I seem to have turned a corner. My chest is almost clear and the ear infection has gone and the nasty side effects from the antibiotics are waning.

In other good news, I was delighted when I weighed myself after a month of holiday hedonism and self-pitying indulgence to discover that I haven’t gained any weight at all. In fact, I may have even lost a little bit. Plus I have found going back to not eating sugar surprisingly easy, and I have reverted to having alcohol only on the weekends. I definitely plan to try and cut that back some more.

Now I think my next step is to think of ways of increasing my fitness. As I have mentioned, I walk my dog every day for an hour. I suppose I could simply focus on making those walks a bit speedier and sweatier.

woman-Image by Mabel Amber, still incognito... from Pixabay
Running instead of walking the dog could be a good option. — Image by Mabel Amber, still incognito… from Pixabay

But I think I need something more. I am considering taking up a completely new sport, or perhaps going back to something I have enjoyed in the past. There are so many possibilities and I need to do a bit of research to find something that will slot into my lifestyle easily.

A few things spring to mind immediately, but it is ironic that the very reason I need to exercise more (being fat) limits my choices. Many riding stables, for example, have weight limits for riders simply because they don’t have big enough horses to carry heavier riders. I used to be a keen runner, but I don’t think my poor old bones, muscles and ligaments would cope with the kind of pounding they would get from all that fat bouncing around as I jog. Someone I know has just started rowing and that appeals to me, but I reckon I’d sink the boat!

horse-Image by Charles Rondeau from Pixabay
A horse’s reaction to seeing me approaching wearing jodphurs. — Image by Charles Rondeau from Pixabay

 

Practicalities aside there is also the social awkwardness of being a big fat person trying to huff and puff and keep up with others, not to mention the difficulty in getting sports clothes that are not too hideously embarrassing. I think I should start a sports clothing company called “Fat Girls Run Too”. It would be great to find sports clothes that were roomy enough to be comfortable, but still shaped properly so you didn’t look like a shuffling circus tent when exercising. (Apologies if there is already such a company – I did a quick google and nothing popped up.)

As I write this, I have had an idea. I am going to investigate it a bit and tell you more once/if I start doing it.

Tomorrow, I discover if all that lovely porridge I have been eating has resulted in my cholesterol levels dropping. I do hope so.

Stats

Week 15 — total weight loss: 4.6 kg (10 lbs)