Hello everyone. I am better than you. But I am #relateable so you’re gonna like this. Promise.
I turn into such a turd when I start exercising. The self righteousness just oozes out of me. I look for any excuse to mention how I “make sure to get my daily workout in.” Because apparently I “just don’t feel right” if I don’t exercise. It’s infuriating for everyone. Let’s talk about it.
Last time you read about how I am now pudgy. This is sort of a sequel to that. However, instead of being overly self-deprecating, we’re going to swerve dangerously to the other end of the spectrum.
I am now better than you and everyone else. This has happened before.
You know when you have an epiphany and it feels great and you smile smugly because you are now in possession of knowledge that the peasants don’t have access to? Well, exercise is the gift that keeps on giving. There are people who hate exercise in all its forms and don’t understand why people like it. But I am not one of them. I actually do like exercise. But I don’t do it that much. So I get to experience this epiphany quite frequently. And I am often smug.
Me and exercise
Once upon a time I used to lift weights with meaty men and do MMA. And I couldn’t lift super heavy or anything but I spent a good 3 years getting more comfortable in the gym, getting more consistent with exercise and getting a pretty strong body. I did muscles in the mirror, I won’t lie. It was awesome.
Let’s start at the beginning. I never did sports as a kid, nor did I care to. I was the titular sit-in-the-library-and-read-all-the-books-at-lunch-time child. I have no regrets. The reason I never engaged with sports was because it was incredibly competitive whenever we played team games at school. And although I consider myself academically competitive, sports requires a bit of learning and muscle memory, which requires time and people were generally not very nice to beginners. And yes I am blaming society but I shouldn’t really. It was a combination of me not finding sports all that interesting and then whenever I tried I wasn’t very good and people weren’t very inclusive so I shrugged at Physical Education as a whole and went to read Lemony Snickett.
This is unfortunate. Because I think there are plenty of physical activities beyond the team sports you do in school that a lot of people would enjoy. Much much later in life, in my early twenties, I started Tai Chi, Kung Fu and then yoga. And those were my baby steps into exercising. Soon after I started going to classes at my local fitness centre and did a bunch of Les Mills stuff. Then I moved to Wales for a summer and finally started lifting weights. Then I moved to China, lifted weights and did MMA. This all occurred over the span of 10ish years.
And that might make me sound like a buff, slim ‘n’ sexy ladyyy. But that’s because you’re looking at a zoomed out image. If I just adjust the lens here, yep, look at all that inconsistency. Oh look, an entire month of midnight snacks of bread and hummus. Here we have three weeks of daily cheese teas. Over there you’ll find 4 months of skipping the gym.
Consistency, or lack thereof, aside I did go from someone who didn’t exercise nor see the value of exercising, to someone who genuinely enjoyed it and understood the value even if I couldn’t keep my momentum. And I value that now because, as I near 30, and crackle like a dying fire every time I move, I know that I can do a bit of yoga, some small bodyweight exercises or even go for a run, and it will help. It’s a tool in the arsenal.
That’s the thing about exercise. You pass through a kind of mental gate and realise that being physical and using your body to do things is a possibility for you, it’s an enjoyable experience provided you find the right activity and it’s empowering to know you can change your desperate bone crackling into confident bone crackling. (Note: You will crackle as you age. We crackle. My first crackle was on my 20th birthday and I have only developed newer crackles ever since.
I struggle with consistency for a number of reasons but one of the major ones is my background. I have almost always had to go it alone with exercise. Not a lot of my family exercised when I was younger, especially the women and when they did, it was a class here and a class there. It was as much social as it was physical. And my own bad experiences with socialising through sport led to me not always wanting to take part. So I remained inconsistent and felt intimidated by the people I did know who were consistent. But maintaining consistency will lead to you feeling better about yourself. It greatly lessens the emotional highs and lows and the mobility and body confidence issues that lead you to exercise in the first place.
Me and no exercise
I have been back in the UK for over a year now which included a pandemic year. Consistency is out the window.
When the pandemic first hit the UK, nothing much happened. But a few uncomfortable weeks later we were in lockdown and I talked about how time = potential and this can lead to an unhealthy over-planning of life. One plan I did make though, was to do daily yoga. My gym was shut, I couldn’t jump around in my flat since I live on the first floor (2nd floor in some countries) and really just needed maintenance until the gyms opened again right? Couldn’t be that far away RiGhT??? (A few months later I became obsessed with indoor plants.)
The daily yoga was good for maintenance for a few months, maybe three but inevitably it wasn’t enough. Nothing was. And the repetitiveness of lockdown led to this stupor that I am only now exiting. I didn’t stop yoga cold turkey, I just made more and more excuses to have a day off, because I had been doing yoga so deserved a break. Here is a graph to demonstrate:
Now as the graph clearly demonstrates, we begin in week 1 at 0, a critically low point for self-esteem and fitness. This triggers the yoga which raises the fitness. You can see in week 2 that fitness initially dramatically increases by 20 points. Whilst this does boost smugness levels somewhat, showing a 10 point increase, it is still not increasing at the same rate of fitness. As time goes on, yoga shows a jump in fitness points from 20 to 25 and smugness increases from 10 to 15 feels. Now here it may seem that once again smugness lags well behind fitness. But we can see from the rate of growth that both fitness points and smugness feels have grown by 5. This similar rate of growth is a sweet spot and healthy to maintain physical and emotional balance.
But between weeks 3 and 4 there is a sudden shift. Fitness continues its steady rate of increase by another 5 points to 30 points. Smugness however, quite smugly if you ah, pardon the pun, increases by a truly gargantuan 20 points, shamelessly mimicking fitness’ initial 20 point leap. This growth continues and smugness rises to a disgustingly over-confident 45 feels. Fitness initially tries to maintain its 5 points per week increase but actually begins to drop for the first time between weeks 5 and 6. It’s not pretty folks.
This sudden decrease in fitness impacts smugness over the next week and we see another dramatic drop. Week 7 is a period of reckoning. A rare moment when fitness and smugness levels are the same. At this point there is still hope that balance can be achieved. But by week 8 we can see the damage is too great. Fitness plateaus off to the far end of the x-axis and smugness begins a slow, sad decline to the bottom. I… I couldn’t bring myself to show you weeks 9 through to now… it’s…it’s just too much.
Body crackles show a slight increase over this period.
I am currently at the end of week 2. This is why I feel like I am better than you. I know what’s going to happen. Let me have this. Consistency is haaaard.
The curse of the lazy slinky
This blog is called the lazy slinky because I think I am clever. Nobody gets the name. I have to explain it each and every time. Then when people get it they politely say, “oh I see…how…clever” and smile painfully at their crazy friend who won’t shut up about having a blog in 2021. Every time I explain it, I have a small crisis wondering why the heck I chose such a stupid name. I look at my friends uncomfortable smile and spiral into worrying about whether I am actually as funny or talented as I think I am. Their smile begins to look pained as my eyes lose focus. I catastrophise about never finding true happiness in my own creativity. It’s a whole thing. But I spent ages making a squiggly logo so the name stays. They have slowly walked away by this point.
The lazy slinky refers to the slinky toy. You know when you watch it flop down stairs and stand there marveling at gravity and momentum and giggling like a fool? But then you get a lazy slinky that flops two steps, loses all momentum and just sits there… being useless? It’s a metaphor. Get it? Like this blog is about how we lose momentum in life? I am the lazy slinky. Get it? Because I lose momentum a lot? Are you smiling? Is it a pained smile? You get it.
I had hoped that this blog would change me somehow. Make me more consistent as a person. It hasn’t. Have you read some of my older stuff? I had this weird post about mermaids and Taiwan once and another one about Llamas. And now I write about reaching financial goals.
I had hoped exercise or my job or anything would suddenly result in things just slotting together and I can be a walking timetable with everything in order. But I am more like a walking whiteboard. There is a plan, I just adapt it as I see fit. And sometimes what I see as “fit” is not fit at all and it’s selfish. Then I spiral. Then I recover. Then I feel guilty. It’s a whole thing. But whiteboards are cool, I guess. If you know you’re a whiteboard, you can start to own it a little. Why would I behave like a timetable if I am a whiteboard? I miss MMA and I feel bad that I can’t do it right now. But yoga is fine. Avoiding late night hummus and bread snacks is doable. So the whiteboard is simple and effective for now.
And I am smug about that. Because I needed the confidence boost.
Usually when I write these posts I come to some sort of epiphany or clear enough conclusion. But what good is a recycled epiphany that you’ve already undone the wisdom of in the past? So I am going to end here and turn it over to you.
What habit, regularly or irregularly kept, makes you feel secretly smug, at least for a time, among your peers? Let me know in the comments below.
If you’re more an email person, join my mailing list. I post weekly-ish. I promise I won’t spam you.
Or read some recent posts that I am quite proud of:
- Do you ignore your tea until it gets cold?3 min quickie about when your tea goes cold. Heavy journalistic stuff. Proceed with caution.
- I took a week off work, but it didn’t change my life.5 min read about expecting too much from yourself because #alwaysbehustlin’
- My Sunday evening: doomscrolling, taking offense and yogaQuickie 2 min read about that dread you feel every Sunday evening.
- Was Valentine’s Day even relevant in the pandemic?Defending Valentine’s Day for 7 minutes straight. 7 mins of reading I mean.
- What school assignment still haunts you? Mine is the Tiger EssayGorgeous 10 min read about a formative childhood experience. With #siblinggoals