Best foot forward

Tonight, after a day of attempting to eat healthily but still succumbing to several Reese’s peanut butter cups and a handful of Minstrels (what? I’m the new girl, I couldn’t possibly say no on day two; that way enemies lie), I decided enough was enough and hauled my super-sized arse (New York has a lot to answer for) to running club for my first run since the sixteen mile hell run a week and a half ago. I was dreading it, but as soon as I got there and saw some familiar faces I was – as always – fine. Despite talking the whole way (and taking on a sizeable hill) we even managed the 8k distance in a respectable 46 minutes.

Since I got back I’ve been ruminating on how great it is to be part of a club, which is ironic as at school I was always the fat kid who had no interest whatsoever in being part of anything remotely club-like, especially if it involved physical exercise. But the more I go to my running club the more I feel inspired to keep on going. Not only is it great motivation to know other people will be there and you won’t be exercising alone, my club is also free-and they provide juice, fig rolls and custard creams (also for free) at the end, which is obviously a huge bonus in my (and anyone’s?) books.

So now my first big run is behind me I have no intention of quitting running club; far from it. I’ve signed up for a half marathon in September so will soon be training again, and in the meantime I’ll continue to attend the club and keep my motivation as well as (hopefully) motivating others.

My other motive for continuing to attend running club is the cost. Much as I love being a member of a gym it’s pretty expensive in London, and now I’ve started a new job where I’ll be earning – in the short term at least – considerably less (not that you’d know it from my spending spree in NYC and today’s post-work shoe shopping binge) I’m not sure gym membership is a priority over, say, eating. Actually, I’m quite certain it’s not. So, for the time being as I concentrate on reducing my outgoings and paying off my now sizeable credit card debt I think I’ll keep up running as a reliable, sociable and free means of keeping fit. And I’ll also keep praying one day soon it might be warm enough to do it without being swaddled in ten layers of clothing…

Food glorious food

I’m not a natural cook, but stick me in a kitchen with some simple raw ingredients, a recipe book and a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio and I’ll have a damn good crack at producing something that’s half way edible. Without a recipe I’m rather less confident, with a vastly reduced repertoire consisting mainly of, well, spaghetti Bolognese. But to me it doesn’t matter what I cook, it’s the act of cooking I find enjoyable. The problem is that I, like many others, rarely make the time to do it.

The sad fact is when working all the hours God sends its often cooking that drops off most peoples’ registers. And who can blame them? If you’re routinely trooping through your front door after nine o’clock each night the last thing you feel like doing is deboning a sea bass and whipping up a pomegranate and red wine jus. Far easier to whack a frozen ready meal in the microwave, or even grab the nearest takeaway menu and slump onto the sofa.

But the funny thing is that if you can find the strength to drag yourself into the kitchen and create something from scratch, it has an oddly therapeutic effect. I don’t know whether it’s the act of cooking itself – chopping and grating, seasoning and tasting – that is so soothing or the fact the time spent doing it creates much needed space for your brain to relax. But whatever it is I believe that cooking is good for the soul.

And then there’s eating. I’ve often posited that I would be an exceptional candidate for a career in competitive eating, such is my love of (and inability to produce normal-sized plates of) food. Diets have never held much sway with me, for I come from the school of thought that suggests food is one of the great pleasures of life. Why should we deprive ourselves of what we love?

As long as you’re not stuffing yourself with saturated fats at every opportunity the occasional treat is fine – my particular weaknesses being chocolate and Big Mac meals on a hangover (I am eating chocolate as I write this). Everything in moderation, including (and yes, I know this is boring) regular exercise is the way to lead a healthy and contented life – not existing on Ryvita with a hot water and paprika chaser from dawn until dusk. Where’s the joy in that? I’ll take an extra roll of back fat over shoulder blades so sharp they can cut through glass any day of the week.

Now where’s that takeaway menu…

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I couldn’t write a post about my love of food without referencing this bad boy: The Breakfast Burrito, which weighs about the same as a newborn baby. The first time I ordered one of these on Koh Tao I was told most people can only manage half. Needless to say I ate the whole thing in minutes and returned most mornings afterwards to do the same. It was, in short, an artery-hardening lump of wickedly delicious ingredients, and if it shortened my life by a few months (as I’ve no doubt it did) then all I can say is that it was very much worth it. So there.