Hello, valued Listener. You look lovely today. That colour suits you.
I know, it makes me feel a bit perturbed as well.
But I like exercise. I go through phases of doing it fairly regularly. I like an endorphin as much as the next man, and I enjoy the feeling of smugness that accompanies sweatily getting into a shower after a 30 minute run.
But for every 30 minute run, there is the Failed Exercise Attempt. You know what I’m talking about, dearest, static Listener. Those planned exercise sessions, that picture of your ideal body pinned to your wardrobe, the delicate fillet of lemon sole in your fridge, all geared towards transforming you into the Most Awesomely Stunning Example of Physical and Aesthetic Perfection in the World. All going up in smoke like a wet tea towel left on a burning hob.
I have identified four types of Failed Exercise Attempts throughout my extensive experience of the subject, and, for your ease of reference I shall detail them here.
The Unexpected Failure
You spend all day at work looking forward to a Really Good Session. You imagine your flushed cheeks, your sparkling eyes, your ripped abs, your toned thighs, your impossibly rounded buttocks. You bound home with the confident stride of a winner. You arrive home, you observe Rule No.1 of a successful exercise routine – DO NOT SIT DOWN EVEN FOR ONE MOMENT – you leap into your sports gear which you lovingly laid out on your bed this morning, you crank up some suitably noisy tunes on your iPod, you hop out into the cool evening light, you take those first sprightly steps in your new running shoes, the image of your disbelieving, beautiful face registering the roar of the crowd as you take Gold at the 100m final…
…and then the truth smacks you round the love handles like a horrible, slimy trout.
You really cannot be arsed.
You try everything: you tell yourself you are fat and disgusting, you grab handfuls of your inner thighs, you search frantically through your Running playlist for a motivational tune, you make a promise to cut off your own hand if you don’t do a 30 minute run… But alas. It is all in vain. You just cannot be arsed.
You lope home, turning the serene evening air blue with your curses, you rip off your sportsgear, you kick your trainers at the wall, and you make six slices of toast and butter and spend the evening watching terrible, terrible television in a vile immovable torpor.
The Expected Failure
You just know it’s going to end badly. You’re almost playing a game with yourself; you’re saying ‘Oh right, going to exercise are we? Really? Huh. Yeah, good luck with that. We’ll just see what happens, shall we? You’re ridiculous.’
You go through the whole sorry rigmarole of putting on sportsgear, you find your running playlist, chuckling sadistically to yourself, you stomp outside, you take an almost ironic little jogging step…
…and the whole thing unravels with a tedious inevitability.
You spend three hours eating chocolate and ice cream in front of YouTube, but you tell yourself it’s okay because you expected to fail, so, in actual fact, you haven’t actually failed at anything because you succeeded in meeting your expectation to fail, and you open the second tub of ice cream to celebrate your astute self-awareness.
The Gallant Attempt
Most likely to occur in gyms, where the social pressure is most acute.
You start off okay. You get a bit sweaty on the bike. You go really fast on the crosstrainer for two minutes, which probably burned about 3,000,000 calories because you were going so fast. You plod for a bit on the treadmill. You look at the chest press, and note the intention to use it. You know you’re on a knife edge, you can feel eyes on you. Cruel eyes. Judging eyes.
You pull yourself together, you stride across the gym with a determination that even Rocky couldn’t muster, you grab the weighty-arm-strengthener-handle-pully thing, you give it an almighty tug with the strength of an ox in his prime…
…and it hurts slightly, the gym is just so stuffy, your shoes are rubbing, you’re thinking about dinner, and life’s too short.
You scuttle into the changing rooms, splash some water over your face so at least it looks like you broke a sweat, and you drive home shaking your head and cursing the £100 a month you pay in order to humiliate yourself.
You lie on your bedroom floor intending to do 100 sit ups.
You do two.
You get up and go to find food.
So, cherished, immobile Listener, there really is only one solution to these heinous daily failures:
Have a sandwich instead.
(PS Check out this most excellent advice on how not to become a massive blob of pizza and beer while at college… http://www.thebestcolleges.org/the-best-regimen-for-college-fitness/ )