I’ve always thought that I’m a little bit fat.
For the longest time it’s been part of my identity that I’m overweight- I was so resigned to the fact that I never did anything about it. I just wallowed happily in my insecurities and let myself be comforted by the ‘but you’re lovely!’ praise I get off all who love me but I began to realise slowly that it doesn’t matter what other people say- I feel fat and unhappy when there is no need to feel fat and unhappy, just have to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
So I decided to try Jogging.
First time I tried jogging.
I put on my shorts, my runners and a t shirt and off I went into the blazing sunshine at 6 in the evening. It felt good! It felt like being a kid again, running, arms pumping up and down, hair bouncing, breath quickening- For the first like, thirty seconds it felt awesome! I made it about twenty feet before I felt like I was going to die, and had to limp home with a stitch in my side (I sat outside in the garden for a while so nobody would know how pathetic my first attempt was.) I still felt good! Felt healthy! We’ll try again in a few days! I can’t feel my hands, oh god!
There was no rhythm to it like swimming, I couldn’t get my breathing right or my head cool or anything- It was graceless and heavy and sweaty and awful. Total failure, I felt embarrassed for myself.
Swimming turns me into some kind of guru
Exercise and me have always been strange bedfellows. I used to swim every week, without fail- I got my mile badge and all my life saving stuff but an absolutely appalling spate of comfort eating when I was around that age meant I was never fit looking- I always looked big and wheezy and uneasy in my own body- Puberty was cruel and dumped about five stone on my once skinny frame- I ballooned out. This is around the time I started identifying as being a ‘fat person.’ It was just who I was and that was it. My Camogie career was famously short and ended with me sending a sliotar through a poor girls face in training… Jogging is good, jogging has no risk of grievous bodily harm, and I don’t have to drive to a pool.
I love lane swimming. It’s the closest thing to meditation I’ve ever had. Repeated motion, isolation, no music. It also has the added bonus of being cold and wet so you don’t get overheated, and you can always do tumbles if you get bored then spend the next ten minutes recovering from the trauma of getting water up your nose. Swimming is all about strokes, control and breathing. Every third stroke, breath on the side of the arm you’re lifting out of the water. I’ve been doing it for so long I don’t even think about breathing when I’m swimming- I think about the ache in my fingers or the stiffness of my knees, or on a good day I just let my mind go blank. It’s pure peace when I swim.
But my swimming pool is out by the airport and I can’t drive and it’s an arse going so it’s not the sort of exercise I do every day. Someday when I’m 35 and fuckin’ boss I’ll go naked swimming at the 40 foot or the north wall but for now I’m 20 and not badass enough, so we’ll stick with jogging.
Second time I tried Jogging
This time, I decide to pace myself- I put a hoody on because it’s cold but I keep the shorts- they make me feel like a legit exercise-y person. I leave my house and start walking- I can walk for miles, stomping briskly in my boots and making my heart pump. So I stomp along for five minutes, then try a gentle jog, trying to make my breath work properly. I make it about twenty feet again, then I stop and start walking. Stomp stomp stomp. I reflect on the strange ‘flump’ sound my body makes when I jog. I try again. Flump flump flump. Get breathy, start again- stomp stomp stomp- Walking then jogging, then finally a sprint back to my house from the end of the road.
I don’t think I’ve been so breathless in years- I have a stitch and my tummy hurts and my knees are weak and I want to die. I’m sweaty and gross so I fill a bath and sit in it, clutching a pint glass of water and a bag of Satsuma oranges. When my breath doesn’t slow I start to panic and think I’m having an asthma attack, so I start to cry.
So there I am, fifteen ish stone, sitting in a bath naked eating Satsumas and gulping tap water.
I reflect that this is STILL a better way of dealing with my weight than sitting around eating that packet of gluten free biscuits in my press.
Niamh ‘Eye of the tiger’ Keoghan