Rosie Lewis, the unhealthy potato

Last week, my nightmares came true. I had to run for the bus.

It was time to take the eleven year old boy I childmind to his oboe lesson, and we were going to be late to the bus stop. So I picked up my pace to a quick walk, the one that you tend to see Londoners doing. Look, the only thing I’ll run for is gig tickets, a puppy, or free pizza. I continued down the road at this quick pace. He turned around to see where I was, his face fell. He shouted ‘the bus is behind you, we’ve got to run!’ and he started sprinting.

Balls. It was behind me.

I began to run. It wasn’t so bad at first. Well, for the first ten seconds. Then, it hit me. ‘Bloody hell I am unfit’. I could feel my asthma beginning to kick off, my whole body screaming ‘what the hell are you doing? This is not a pleasant stroll’, and my knees were creaking like the ropes of a pirate ship. I went back to a quick walk, red faced in more ways than one as the bus drove past me.

Whilst listening to the screeching sounds of Grade 5 oboe, I had an epiphany. I am gosh darned unfit. I ran for ten seconds and felt like I was going to die. My joints click and muscles ache from under use. I’ve lived in Winchester for three years and I still need a lie down when I get to the top of Romsey Road. I sprained my ankle tripping over some water for Heaven’s sake. To the sounds of squealing Bach I realised, I have to get fit.

There are so many reasons for this, not just because I got out run by a 5 mph city bus. I see so many people on social media going rock climbing and doing yoga; I look at them and go ‘wow, I want to do that!’ The thing is, when I try to do that, it doesn’t go well. My arms can’t support the weight of my body when rock climbing, so I end up lumped on the floor like a sack of potatoes. In yoga, I can manage that really difficult pose I’ve been admiring for weeks, but then my muscles start to spasm and I’m reduced to a sack of potatoes yet again. I feel like a potato. And not a French fry, or a croquette; I feel like a potato that’s been left in the back of the cupboard for weeks that has gone slightly green and is a little mushy. I don’t want to feel like that. I want to be strong. I want to feel like a hash brown. I always run in head first when it comes to exercise, and then I get upset that I can’t do things as well as other people. The truth is, I’ve got to start at the very beginning. It is a very good place to start.

I’m also Queen of the Asthmatics. My doctors have told me that my asthma will get better if I exercise a bit more. I always say ‘oh yes, of course I will’ but we all know I never do that. Plus, my hormones and brain chemicals are all kinds of messed up. If you exercise, positive endorphins are emitted and can have a positive impact on mental health. But no, I always retreat under the covers instead of donning my trainers.* Furthermore, my boyfriend is fit, and I don’t just mean in appearance. He’s on the Ultimate Frisbee team, he finds joy in playing football, and he can run up St Catherine’s Hill. I can barely walk up St Catherine’s Hill. I want to be able to keep up with him. Well, I could never play Ultimate Frisbee because I have the hand-eye co-ordination of a new born deer, and I just don’t enjoy playing the same kind of football he does. I like a bit of a kick around, not eleven player, 4-2-3-1, score or die football; that intimidates me. However, I love it when we go jogging together. I want us both to be able to push ourselves and enjoy it, not him saying ‘come on love, you can do this’ whilst we are only five minutes down the road, and me thinking ‘I hate him so much, how dare he be stronger and faster than me’. That is how most of our jogging sessions go. I also love physical theatre (that’s the sort that’s a bit arty farty and a little bit dance-y, for those people who don’t know), but I always feel restricted by the fitness level of my body. If I get fitter, I can create even more theatre. And maybe my knees won’t click when I perform. It’s very loud and distracting.

And now, here’s the section that I’ve been nervous about writing. I also want to get fit so I can lose weight. I know there will be the influx of ‘why though? What? Don’t be silly’ etc from some of you readers. Wait wait wait, everything shall be addressed.

It was pay day, a good one at that, so I meandered into New Look for a browse. Well, a little shop. I saw some ripped black jeans in the sale, they were in my size, so I went and bought them. Simple. How happy was I, walking home, thinking of how indie I would look the next day. Alas, the time came to pull them on. I was very happy I didn’t ruin them by putting my foot through one of the artful rips. I wasn’t very happy when it came to doing them up. No matter how much I struggled, breathed in, hoisted to my waist, the button would not do up. I checked the size; size 12, my regular New Look trouser size. I grabbed my old pair of New Look jeans and tried them on. Balls. They didn’t fit either. Then ensued an hour of me trying on pieces of clothing and noticing that the majority did not fit or sat oddly on my body. Many things went through my mind. Many negative thoughts. However, the overriding thought was ‘I can’t afford to buy any new clothes! I’m a student!’ So, in losing weight, I am saving myself a fortune in avoiding buying a new wardrobe.

It’s all fun and games laughing with me at wanting to be strong, at my foolish behaviour, at me falling over, at me not fitting into my jeans. But here’s the truth; I am unhealthy. I am overweight, according to the doctors. I am not happy with my body.  When sorting out my bedroom, I found a diary from seven years ago, from when I was thirteen. It was a food and exercise log. I have been trying to lose weight for seven years. I’ve struggled with body image for at least seven years. I know a lot of my negative thoughts are bred from society and are engrained in my mind; the desire to be skinny and perfect and all that jazz. But I’m trying to block that out. I know they are stupid thoughts. To be honest, I have no desire to be skinny; I have large childbearing hips, there’s no way they’ll ever be skinny. I just want to be fit and healthy and happy. I know I am beautiful; I have the shoulders of a Greek goddess, a bum to die for, eyes the colour of the sea, thighs strong enough to kill a man. But, I want to be able to look at my arms and belly and hips and back and the bits I don’t like and say ‘damn girl, you are strong and beautiful’. This is not about being skinny. This is about being strong and healthy. This is about being the best Rosie I can be. This is about my body, my rules.

Now, that’s all well and good, but I can imagine a lot of people saying ‘why the hell is she writing about this?’ Well, it’s a few reasons really. Firstly, I’ve got to keep this blog alive with some quality content. Secondly, I am fickle, I hate letting people down, and I care what people think of me. Oh so healthy, right? If I tell myself I’m going to get fit, there’s a high chance that I’ll go ‘I’ll start tomorrow’ and do that for the rest of eternity whilst getting stuck to my sofa. If I tell other people, I’ll have no choice to do it or they’ll think of me as a lazy loser who lies around lying. (Essentially guilt tripping myself.) Look, if it works for me, it works for me. Finally, I know a lot of people are going through the same problems as I am; struggling with body image, finding it difficult to get up and going, people who are not healthy but really want to be. You’re not alone. I can guarantee millions of people are feeling the same as you, including this little wheezy woman here. But we can do this. We can. It may be bloody difficult and painful, but we can do this; and my oh my, won’t it be worth it?

So, hold me to it world. Watch my self-esteem and strength go from slightly off four week old potato to MacDonald’s hash brown. I’m excited. I’m also nervous and sad because I hate running. But excited.

*I know exercise does not solve depression and other mental health problems. Oh hell, I know. But, it does make me feel better for a little while.

(Originally posted on April 11th 207 @ https://rosiealewis.wixsite.com/home/single-post/2017/04/11/Rosie-Lewis-the-unhealthy-potato)

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