One of the most prominent things at the forefront of our minds this time of year is getting that all important beach bod in the lead up to summer. And associated beach holidays. The sun has barely peeped out from behind the English clouds, yet we become obsessed with healthy eating and exercise routines and all sorts of emerging alternative methods for slimming down and toning up. But is this nightmare we put ourselves through really worth it? Chances are we won’t get around to starting any sort of healthy routine until it’s inevitably too late to make a difference anyway. So why all the fuss for such little success?
Personally, I was feeling sluggish after the long winter and thought aspiring towards a beach bod would give me a good goal, get me off the sofa, and hopefully be a step towards healthy living. So I signed up for bikram yoga. I made plans to go on regular runs. I started a 30 day abs youtube challenge. I planned to cut out sugar, caffeine, fast food; I even went as far as researching which fruits were unhealthy. Surely all fruits are healthy?! Seriously, this was almost as bad as the time I decided to eat only brown rice for 2 weeks (let’s not go into the ramifications of that silly idea). The first few days I was energised and revitalised, constantly reassuring myself that this was a great plan and I was going to feel amazing.
As you can probably imagine, it didn’t last much longer than that. I promptly gave up regular running after realising that I spent my whole day dreading the evening run, and what kind of way of life is it to spend your days dreading what has yet to occur? The bikram yoga lasted longer; I actually enjoyed the classes but motivating myself to get off my bum and leave the house was always tricky. Having got myself there 3 times a week, my muscles ached and I felt so weak I could barely lift an arm (great demonstration of my fitness levels). I’m sure if I pushed past the pain and kept going I might truly feel the benefits, but unfortunately my 20-day trial has now ended and I’m just too cheap to pay £15 a class. So that’s the end of that. I could carry on with my 30-day ab routine (which is more like every-other-day or twice-a-week for me); Sarah and Scott are extremely excitable and assure me that I will have rock hard abs (or A.B.S. as my boss calls them) in no time. But is there really much point doing ab exercises when I’m doing absolutely nothing else? I thought not.
So with exercise down to zero, a healthy diet should be more important than ever. And don’t get me wrong, I love a salad as much as the next girl. I’m a real foodie and get a kick out of good and proper healthy foods, superfoods, vegetables and all that jazz. But I’m also a real sweet tooth, and to be honest life just isn’t worth living without a biscuit to dunk in my tea at the end of the day. I attempted to give up baked goods for lent and it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done. I don’t normally eat chocolate but I found myself constantly buying chocolate bars to make up for the void left in my life by a lack of biscuits. I’m just a cookie person and have to accept this. I once said to my friend, in the most serious manner possible: “I think I am the cookie monster.” If I’m going to bake anything it will more often than not be cookies, and as many varieties as possible. I even have a special biscuit pocket at the front of my mug (don’t worry, it fits more than one biscuit) – what would I do with the biscuit pocket and no biscuits? Surely the mug would feel empty and incomplete?
We can have the best intentions of turning over a new leaf, exercising every day, and never snacking. But we slip up for one moment and it’s over and we delay it to next week. And then the week after. How about we realise that life is about balance and we need a bit of naughtiness interspersed into our attempt at a healthy routine. Everyone has their own guilty pleasures – but even this statement is contradictory and a representation of our obsession with eating healthily and getting fit. Biscuits are my pleasure, and erase the guilty. I have the right to sit down with a tea and some biscuits at the end of a hard day (or the end of every day). And I’m not going to let society’s apparent need to conform to a picture perfect bikini body and the unnatural lifestyle that comes with it take that right away from me.