So here I am deep in the midst of rural Pennsylvania with six animals and no humans, for another two-and-a-bit weeks.
This puts me in quite a niche scenario.
Alone in the woods.
No departure vehicle.
Devoid of external influence.
Might as well be Matt Damon in The Martian.
What a good time to perform an experiment on myself, I thought. Something really weird and wacky and out-there.
So then I thought, I know… I’ll swap the thing that I love (wine) with the thing that I loathe (exercise) and see what happens.
Giving up booze for a few weeks is an obvious one: you have to do it occasionally when you’ve been swimming in the stuff for a prolonged period of time (normally after Christmas).
Exercise, however is a new one for me. This will be interesting because I have the willpower of a four-year-old. A particularly weak-willed, tantrum-throwing four-year-old.
I’ve wanted to do this for ages – to see if the exercise myth is true. If you do enough of it, does it really become enjoyable? Do people actually get excited about going to the gym, or are they just saying that?
Quite often, my sprightly mother will come back from yoga and say, “what a BLINDER of a class” (in a positive way), and I’ll say (with morbid curiosity), “what it really hard?” and she’ll say, “yeah, nearly killed me.”
This makes no sense to me.
It’s like jogging. I wouldn’t know because I don’t do it but whenever I happen to pass someone who is jogging, they always look to me as though they are having a thoroughly shit time. They’re never smiling are they? They just look tired and pissed off.
I’ve probably tried exercise between 5-10 times in my life, since leaving school obviously, where we were forced to.
I joined a gym once, never went. Tried running in Central Park when I moved to New York, gave up. Occasionally go to some sort of potty class with my best friend Bumble where you don moon boots with springs on them and jump around to loud music. Oh, and I do own a copy of Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred video.
In every case (see above), I’ve dabbled with it in a half-arsed sort of way for a week, felt pretty smug about it, then given up on account of it being the painful thing I dread every day.
Some people say that if you exercise regularly, it becomes less awful.
Some say it becomes enjoyable.
Some even claim it gets addictive.
They speak of endorphins, and ‘pushing through the wall’. My dear friend Robbo, who has loads of muscles, once told me, and I’ll never forget this, “It’s eeeasy Bells. You’ve just got to trick your brain into enjoying the burn.”
I hate the burn. As soon my brain detects the burn, it shrieks and says, ‘Fuck! Drop everything!’
And let’s not forget (I always wheel this one out) that from a primitive cave man perspective, you’re only supposed to run when you’re being chased. You’re supposed to eat as much food as you can forage and conserve your energy for emergencies only.
So my theory has always been that my brain is fully justified when it gets all confused and upset about exercise, because it’s hard-wired to be like that, and all humans who claim otherwise are just lying because they want to look better.
STILL. As I said, I’ve always wondered whether, if I pushed through the horrid wall and just kept doing it over and over again like a lab rat, it would become a Habit and then maybe even a Hobby.
I doubt it. So I’m going to try it.
And because I’m a very black and white/all-or-nothing/sinner or saint kind of person, I am going to exercise not once but TWICE every single day until I leave this place. Rain or Shine. Hell or high water.
Once in the morning, before I even have breakfast, I will do the Jillian Michaels video (which is really, really unpleasant) and then in the afternoon before I feed the horses, I am going to go jogging for half an hour.
I have already completed day one.
I don’t have a yoga mat so I improvised with a doormat, I don’t have hand weights so instead I used cans of tomatoes, and I don’t have trainers so I am borrowing Kate’s (sorry Kate!).
Both the video and the run were predictably heinous. I think maybe I got some endorphins after finishing the run, but I also got a stitch, an acidic taste in the back of my mouth, and the burn.
I shall post a progress report next week.
And don’t worry, this travel blog will NOT turn into a ghastly fitness blog. It’s just an experiment. If you ever catch me posting a photo of my trainers or a fucking salad on Instagram, for example, reach through the screen and punch me in the face will you?
**If you want to find out what happened, you can read the next bit here. Spoiler alert, I sprained my ankle so now I can’t run anymore**