So summer is coming (very slowly) and the end of the semester is in sight. I am already thinking ahead to the holidays, the heat, the relaxation and the beach. There is only one problem with this image in my mind, and that is the part that includes me on the beach in any clothes that provide less cover than a beach-tent. Aside from the issue of having to decide between getting burnt or constantly slathering myself in Factor 50 every few minutes, the thought of baring my ridiculously white flesh to the world fills me with the kind of dread that is only rivalled by the prospect of jumping out of an aeroplane without a parachute. This annual terror always results in the same decision to embark on a dual action, hard-core, intensive health kick/get-fit regime. Judging by the many magazine titles and adverts on the TV (mainly for Special K) I am not alone in this sudden panic to try and rectify all my unhealthy habits in time for the summer holiday session. I am also not alone in entertaining completely unrealistic hopes that by doing so I’ll somehow rid myself of cellulite, lose half my body fat and get incredibly clear and glowing skin in two weeks.
Yet I have been deciding a similar sort of thing every second Wednesday since I stupidly started buying trashy celebrity magazines in my early teens and it has never worked. It always seems like a good idea at the time; in fact more than that, it feels like a necessity. A sense of impending doom and acute urgency seem to characterise the situation as I stare in horror at the mirror, standing with a half-eaten muffin in my hand. Yet precisely three hours after this initial panic that I am clearly rocketing down Obesity Lane, coughing and wheezing with the effort that this rocketing is taking me, I tell myself that there is absolutely no point in doing anything rash or starting anything so important at 3 p.m. in the afternoon. The saying, ‘start as you mean to go on’ is central to my ethos in life. What is the point in purifying my digestive tract if earlier that morning I have already clogged it full of the most wonderful carbohydrate delicacies? Despite my penchant for berries of all kinds, healthy eating as a life-style that puts ‘danger do not touch’ signs on all my favourite foods, never tends to last for longer than half a day – max.
I used to worry that this inability to stick to only 60 calories a day or to avoid anything that didn’t taste like rabbit food, meant that I just had no will-power. However, while this may in part be true, I think it actually has more to do with an underlying acceptance of how I look. If I was really unhappy and every time I looked in the mirror I wanted to vomit because the sight was so hideous, then I would like to think I would have the persistence to do something about it. To be honest though, most of the time I look in the mirror I’m not too bothered. I am not really unhealthy, or ugly or huge. I think that this is also something that a lot of other women think as well. So we’re not perfect, or airbrushed to within an inch of our life, we don’t have round-the-clock personal trainers or an army of nutritionists and beauticians at our beck and call to constantly keep us at that perfect size 8 with glossy locks and glow in the dark teeth, but then, neither do most people.
This revelation may be due to watching various ‘fat people’ documentaries the disturbing highlight being ‘feeders’ (which if you have nothing to do and feel like being disgusted you should look up), but to be honest I am tired of constantly worrying about all the different things that can be wrong with how I look. Women obsess over it way too much, and I never fail to be amazed by how many new things they can come up with that they don’t like. The most boring conversations I have ever had have been about the calorie content of food and drink. I can maybe understand feeling a little bloated and bad after eating an entire rack of ribs covered in sauce, but I absolutely refuse to feel guilty for drinking orange juice. It’s utterly ridiculous.
So this summer, I have decided I am not going to the gym. I am not going to wear anything that has lycra in it and then moan about how many lumps and bumps have sprung up out of nowhere. I am not going to watch what I eat or cut out any kind of food group, especially carbs (I personally think anyone who follows the Atkins diet needs serious help). I am just going to stick two fingers up to everyone who is pathetic enough to care about how I look in comparison to them. So this summer I’m going to ditch the tent and keep on sipping my mojito as I soak up the sun.
Image Credit – Ian Britton