life's too short for a six-pack

 

I started working out again a couple of weeks ago; with regular jogs of a decent length, and workout sessions at the local park.

It’s taken forever to get back into it since moving to glorious, delicious France. I was groping for motivation, hanging out for the boy to threaten an affair or for a minor, but life-changing health scare.

Turns out all I needed was a buddy to work out with. Faced with the potential of looking like a dick for cancelling, I have a renewed interest in all things sweaty, painful and unladylike.

Of course, my diet has snuck into the conversation.

My *French* diet, that is, which includes fabulous cheese, incredible breads and undeniable desserts. And for the record; I’m totally cool with this arrangement. I LOVE the way I eat here.

But, my pants, which have begun to hug my figure with a new fervour, might have something to say about it.

 

Ok, pants; here’s the deal.

It is an actual crime to not eat everything you see (in moderation) when you’re in France. A crime.

But I *will* workout. It’s the least I can do – I know how hard you’re working to keep things together back there.

I will workout, and I will eat a great variety of lovely, fresh foods, and I will not deny myself. I shall not, and I could not.

A well-meaning friend of a friend, on hearing that I was about to embark on a new fitness regime, emailed through a detailed eating plan. The kind with pyramids. And rules. So many rules.

No dairy, no pasta, no bread, no sugar, no cooked food, no lentils, no peanuts or soy, no grains and no salt. For starters.

This ‘eating plan’ was a study in deprivation – but it was no surprise.

Health and fitness programs that dominate the internet these days are full of super restrictions, bone-crunching workouts, and cult-like followings.

The thing is; these programs seem to really work. They help people all over the world shed those stubborn pounds, turn fat into muscle, the wobbly into the taut.

I can see why – I mean, the theories make sense, because behind all the smoke and mirrors, the very simple ‘active ingredient’ remains the same: you must expend more energy than you consume to lose weight.

Whether you do that by fasting on juice, surviving on salads, or snacking on small pre-prepared meals of exhaust fumes and worn plasters, like I said, ultimately, less energy in, more energy out, and that body fat will start to slide off.

Good people pay other people to basically reinforce this message with meal plans, workout regimes and slogan t-shirts – when really, they could just decide one day not to eat as much, and work out heaps more. We know this shit. We all know it.

Lord knows I’ve needed telling every now and then. I’ve bought into the fitness gurus, and I’ve followed their recommendations to cut all the good stuff out of my diet. And I like to think I’ve learned from my mistakes.

For me, it was always going to be more of an experimentation. A wee dabble. I don’t like being told what to do (because I think I always know best), so I tend to fall off the wagon with a million reasons why it’s just not worth it.

Food is social. It’s love, friendship, a pleasure - something to be enjoyed. Sure, our cavemen ancestors didn’t have chocolate or croissants and they were invariably ripped – but I like to think there’s more to life than boiling chicken, posting WODs to Instagram and running away from dinosaurs or whatever.

Does health and fitness really have to be extreme?

Hannah Keys