I have never been fat. I’ve definitely been a bit on the heavy side, especially in my first two years of university, but never the kind of person who gets unsuspectingly filmed by news crews as stock footage for heart disease stories. However, since I moved to London the poundage has been creeping back up on me. The problem is that doing anything other than work when you’re commuting a round three hours a day requires quite a bit of forward planning and organisation, so when I lived at home with my parents extra-curricular activities were relatively rare. When you live right in the middle of it all, though, your diary quickly fills with field trips to bars and restaurants, and parties where you more or less marinade yourself in calorie-sodden booze. And then there’s the impromptu trips to the pub after work, or a nice café on a Saturday morning for a frothy hot chocolate and a sticky bun. The whole place is a fat-laden minefield, and scheduled gym visits fall by the wayside because, frankly, there’s always something better to do. And by ‘better’, I almost always mean ‘fattening’.
So I decided to go on a health kick. Not your standard ‘cycling a few miles when I can be bothered and maybe only having two hobnobs instead of six’ kind of health kick, but a proper one, with an exercise regime and meal plans. My main objective was simply to lose some weight, because:
a) I was slowly outgrowing all of my clothes, and didn’t have the money or space to buy a whole new wardrobe for my new bulk;
b) For reasons I now cannot remember, I had become obsessed with the video for She Wants To Move by N.E.R.D. It’s an old song, but the video is mostly Alesha Dixon dancing on a table in a spangly dress, going completely berserk and looking nothing short of spectacular.
In retrospect, this second reason is puzzling because I don’t really like Alesha Dixon. Although undoubtedly very beautiful, she is also very kickable, but in that video she is absolutely killing it and I wanted in. I was transfixed, watching the video over and over. I’m not sure why it was so inspirational – it would take radical surgery and at least a decade of intensive dance tuition to get me looking like her – but it was.
And so I embarked on Insanity, a high impact, booze-free regime led by muscle-bound Adonis and all-round beast, Shaun T. It comprises of 63 days of intense DVD workouts coupled with a curiously unsatisfying eating plan of five small meals a day to steady the metabolic rate. It is notoriously difficult, and you also get to make a complete arse of yourself leaping around the living room every day like you’re on fire. I initially planned to write this post upon my successful completion of the plan, a stone lighter and abs that would make friends and workmates pop-eyed with jealousy. Unfortunately, I packed it in after day 36, just over halfway through. Alas, this is not an inspirational tale of triumph, discipline and thighs you can crack nuts with, but a dispiriting one of failure and self-pity. Bummer.
Of course, the diet was never going to work. Two weeks in I gave up on the meal plan on the basis that telling someone they can have five micro-meals a day is as shit and unsatisfying as telling someone they have half a blow-job five times a day. As a working person, it was also incredibly difficult to fit these meals in around deadlines and meetings; I was eating four times at work and once at home, and I was never really hungry but never really full either. Which I guess is the point, but it did suck a lot of the fun out of eating. Generally I did still try to eat healthily, except for a weekend jolly to France which threw me off course a bit. Frankly, though, letting someone like me into a boulangerie is as irresponsible as taking a recovering alcoholic to a distillery.
Post-France, five weeks in, I completely and utterly fell off the wagon. Or rather, I hurled myself joyfully off with all the enthusiasm of a half-starved dog dive-bombing into a great field of bacon dripping. One of the greatest contributors to my downfall was crispbread. Generally harmless, you may think, practically a boon to recovering carb-addicts in times of craving. And crispbreads are delicious, inexpensive and never really go stale (partly because they taste sort of stale anyway), so they are the perfect ‘naughty’ diet food to curb insuppressible urges. Unfortunately, I have the self-control of a toddler with a family bag of jelly tots so I started scarfing the things a packet at a time. One crispbread, fine. Forty-two calories. Even two, no problem. Lovely little snack, even with pretend cream cheese (i.e. Philadelphia bollocks Lightest). Sixteen of the fuckers: UNACCEPTABLE. But they became my new binge food. I would slither into the kitchen late at night and scoff them over the sink (crumbly bastards, they are), sometimes with raspberry jam, and then another, and another, and then, ooh, how about one with Lurpak as well, my jammy knife leaving telltale red smears all over the pat like bloodstains in snow. Then I’d clean up with all the shame and guilt of someone who’d had a terrible row with someone over something frivolous and ended up stabbing them 150 times with their car keys in a frenzy. You know, when you can’t even remember what the argument was about, but it doesn’t matter anyway because they’re dead now and you’re hacking them up to feed to pigs.
Although, I imagine, probably a bit less of a mind-fuck in the long run.
I was better at the exercise though. Although not much better:
Fitness test. In theory only eight minutes of actual exercise. Deceptively exhausting.
Something called Plyometrics. Had to stop halfway through to lie on floor. Feel sorry for people downstairs, v. flat-footed. Took scales to work to measure out Cornflakes, turns out a 30g portion is actually only about 1/3 of a bowl, not as much as you can physically fit in without overspill.
Have been living a lie.
Woke up in agony. Nearly gassed self with Deep Heat. Went food shopping after work, bought ‘Lightest’ Philadelphia and low-fat crackers. Also eggs. Went home, did workout. Housemate told me to watch egg intake as can make you v. constipated.
Got in to work to find someone had written ‘WEIGHING WANKER’ on my scales.
Midday meal today was avocado with crackers. Opened avocado. Rotten. Nearly burst into tears. Everyone else had chips for lunch. Had to cover face with perfume-drenched scarf, chloroform-style, to avoid psychological meltdown.
All sports bras in wash. Made mistake of thinking a normal one would do. Impossible to tell at this early stage whether my pectorals have seized up from all the press-ups or if my tits are about to fall off.
10% done! Surprisingly not stiff. But may have to buy laxative due to over-egging. Someone brought profiteroles into work (!?) but I eschewed them with a firm hand. Let housemates use living room today as have been monopolising it in manner of Mexican drug cartel. Did late night video instead. Opened balcony doors as v. hot, but unfortunately was doing power squats just as the pub over the road emptied out. One man pointed and all his mates looked up and laughed.
Ruined everything by binging on three bowls of Cornflakes I wasn’t even hungry for. Went to bed in a rage.
REST DAY. Mother came down for the day so had to go for a filthy lunch. Luckily restaurant quite posh so portions v. small. Had vegetarian option.
Maxine’s birthday so another naughty lunch. Came home late and did ‘Cardio Power and Resistance’. Have real issue with power jumps, they are exhausting. Also loud. At 11:30pm next door banged on the wall. Thought was becoming more graceful but enraged neighbours suggest otherwise.
Drank so much water I felt physically sick and my stomach was horribly engorged. Looked like one of those poor malnourished kids off Oxfam adverts.
Cycled home like a maniac, burst into flat, switched on television and began ‘Pure Cardio’ within 45 seconds of coming through the door. Finished by 7:15pm. No word from next door.
Saw next door neighbours on stairs, avoided eye contact. V. successful workout today. At the end I lay on the cold floor for a bit. My eyes watered but only because of all the salty sweat that had run into them.
Recovery stretch workout. Haven’t had a drink in eleven days. This is what it is like to be pregnant. Woke up this morning feeling brilliant and thin until I tried on the Pink Shorts of Judgement (retarded idea) and was so depressed I went back to bed and was late for work.
Could not be bothered today. Did exercise but there are old ladies with one arm who could have done more and better press-ups than me.
Today had Pure Cardio with new form of torture called Cardio Abs. Feel as though been beaten up.
It has been two weeks now and still nobody has told me I look any thinner.
Fitness test. Definite improvement. Felt optimistic until looked at Month 2 exercises out of curiosity. Wished I hadn’t.
Booked day off to go on lovely spa day. Got up early to do hateful bastard Plyometrics. Started in shorts and sports bra as housemates were at work, but sight of wobbling gut in window reflections made me feel seasick so put a top on.
Skived Insanity today as went to a blues gig after work with my parents. Nice to have distraction. Never seen a blues artist before but was v. good, except the warm-up act kept contorting his face into the most grotesque expressions. Simultaneously looked like he was having his fingernails ripped out and also his bollocks tickled with a big pink feather. Also looked a bit like me doing burpees.
Am racked with guilt. Must catch up tomorrow.
Caught up. Too exhausted to comment.
Today a workmate told me, “your tits look a bit bigger, relatively, and your face looks less fat”. Progress!
Shit day. Had to go into work for an emergency despite booking a day off, then had to do Cardio Power and Resistance. Lots of jumping but feel lighter on feet. Bet it still sounds like an elephant doing the quickstep downstairs though.
Gone to Paris. Already eaten two croissants and it is 8:30am.
Still in France. Still gorging. Was v. excited about hunchback photo op in front of Notre Dame until got there and my housemate was like, ‘go on then’, but there were loads of tourists around and surprisingly nobody else doing Quasimodo impressions so felt like bit of a twat.
Still on holiday, although back in London. V. difficult to get out of free-spirited holiday eating mode. Also fell asleep on Eurostar last night and somehow managed to strain groin (!?)
Went to Bicester Village with my mother, then came home and made Hollandaise abomination that would probably make Shaun T shit his pants.
…At this point, I stopped documenting my slippery slide into failure. In any case, I only lasted five weeks of Insanity. I officially gave up after the first workout of Month 2, which was 50% longer and 400% more difficult than the already back-breaking sessions in Month 1 and ‘Recovery Week’, which was six days of stretch-based exercises. It was IMPOSSIBLE. I probably managed about 40% of the whole session, and spent the downtime lying on the ground trying not to be sick, vocally wishing various gruesome and highly creative deaths on each of Shaun T’s leaping, prancing little minions. So I stopped.
I’m trying not to beat myself up about it, but to be honest, Insanity blows. Sure, it’s fine if you have no job, no responsibilities and no social life, but for anyone who does it’s a real fun-suck. You can’t go out, and by the time you’ve finished work and done your sodding living room workout you’re too knackered to do anything but sit around in an acrid haze of Deep Heat, fantasising about getting a lap dance from a giant Krispy Kreme (yeah, I’m 90% sure that shit is hallucinogenic). Much better, I think, to try and find a sustainable lifestyle that won’t make you fat but will allow you to enjoy yourself sometimes; everything, as they say, in moderation. We all know what we should and shouldn’t eat, that we should move about vigorously sometimes and get sweaty and out of breath. Surely the key is to act on these and weave the good stuff in with the bad, without leaving a life of self-denial and sobriety. Stands to reason. And the neighbours appreciate it.
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