Finally, after six weeks of relative misery and personal embarrassment, it’ arrived: the final week of the Exercise or Die(t) experiment.
“It’s arrived, it’s arrived!” I feel like exclaiming out loud, in sinister Boris Colin Clive fashion. Ok, maybe overstating the case here, but the fact is the analogy is quite apt.
Over some six weeks I’ve gone from borderline corpse to, well, not an athlete exactly but a monster at least. I’m more active, self-aware, have had the stiff walk of Boris Karloff following self-imposed overdoses of squats, and using my legs for purposes other than just static elevation, and have started to attribute morality to my own physical existence. Just.
There have been plenty of slip-ups, i.e. rogue cheeseburgers, fried chicken and days when I’d sooner plug my fingers into a light socket than face the prospect of another pushup. But I guess if I’ve come this far, why stop?
My breathing has improved enough to hopefully fend off emphysema for another couple of years, my back no longer aches from watching other people exert themselves and I can honestly say I’m feeling healthier all round.
From the cataclysmic moment in week two when, in shorts and headband a la David Bedford, I almost knocked myself unconscious on the handle of my front door (to the consternation of my elderly neighbours), to the euphoric moment when I realised my hips won’t fall off after a kilometer or so of jogging, it’s been a deeply irritating but fascinating ride.
It’s also served as a cautionary tale to anyone who ever started off life fit, active and full of energy, that ditching a balanced lifestyle only results in worsening cholesterol and the meat sweats. Trying to improve after a good few years of letting it all hang out is as painful as pulling teeth and about as pretty.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I probably will go to hell for my vices in life and the disruptive effect my exercise routine has had on my dachshund lately but at least I should be able to run a little faster when I get there to keep the pitchfork from my behind for a while.
But let’s face it, a little of what you like (even if it’s neither wholesome nor healthy) is not such a bad thing. It’s just a case of making sure you don’t give yourself over to the dark side completely and end up with oxygen tanks instead of grandchildren, though to be honest the jury is still out on that one.
Aesthetically speaking there isn’t really a marked improvement just yet. Middle-aged women with larger biceps and better looking stomachs than mine are going to be a constant niggle for a while yet, if not indefinitely. I’m not yet in the shape where taking my shirt off can be accompanied by a rendition of You Can Leave Your Hat On as much as You Can Leave Your Clothes On, but I can live with it. Beauty may be only skin deep, but health and wellness runs far deeper, I’ve found.
So without further ado, it’s time to blaze off into the sunset without the worry of premature coffins and declined medical insurance at the front of my mind. Booze and burgers aren’t off the menu completely (as I thought might be the case when I started), but there is plenty of healthy stuff in the diet also, so things are definitely looking up.
It feels a lot easier going forward, just wish I’d thought to do this a couple of years earlier.
With more tension than your mother’s suspension, I am Frisco Rosso. I’m likely to deliver a few lines worth at any given moment regarding film, music, sport, books and anything morally unsound that strikes a blow between the eyes in the name of entertainment.