Hey fatty boom boom

24 Apr

Hey Fatty Boom Boom, Sweet Sugar Dumpling

Fancy laughing hard? Come and see me run. Except that you won’t, unless you are a park ranger or a pigeon, because I make sure that I take my exercise when no one else is looking. I rise at 6am, hit the park by 6.30am and am back for breakfast by 7am. According to a recent survey conducted by mental health charity Mind, 90% of British women said they often felt too self-conscious to exercise in public.

I differ slightly from these people though, because my exercise anxieties are not related to exposing my jiggly bits to all of south London. I have peed myself whilst sober on the high street, wearing pale denim. I had to walk the mile home with sodden trousers so it takes quite a lot to make me blush. If I really worried about the way my arse looked in my exercise ‘get-up’ (a toss up between bootleg lycra or maternity leggings circa 2005) then I’d be with the 90%. But the size of my bum and the cut of my pants are the least of my problems.

It’s my arms. They make me nervous. Not the shape, or the loose skin, or the fact that they are quite hairy. It’s just I don’t know what to do with them when I run. They’re fine when I’m walking because they swing in time. They’re quite useful when I’m dancing because I can Vogue like Madonna, and less like a mother dancing like… well, my mother.  Running is the exception. As soon as I break into a jog my arms suddenly lose their natural rhythm, and I feel like an orang-utan as they swing out of sync with the rest of my body.

Sometimes I wish I could jog with a glass of wine and a cigarette. At least then, my arms would have a purpose. “Flailing limbs are a runner’s worst enemy”, my husband tells me, and I look at him with a face that suggests that I have no control over the matter. He is an expert runner. He completed the London marathon at the weekend in a very respectable time. “Keep those arms high” he says. “Use them as a tool to better your stride,” he goes on. And on… And on… His encouraging words are usually a faint whisper by the time he’s reached the top of the hill,  200 yards ahead of me and barely warmed up.

Exercise has never been a friend. Our amicable parting happened very early on in my life, when I realised it favoured either the very lithe, speedy and naturally able, or the girls in my year who looked like they’d be able to knock out Miss Trunchball with their strong left hook. Excuses for my inability mean nothing now that I realise my body is not going to miraculously maintain itself. I can get away with neglecting my car. If I want my body to see me through the coming years – and I hope there’ll be a few yet – then I have to do something to look after it. I abandoned exercise when I felt I couldn’t keep up, but now I feel that I need it more than it needs me.

Having cruelly dumped all other forms of exercise over the years, running is the only option I can stomach. Swimming does my knees in; gyms reek of sweat and bother and play the kind of euro house that even I can’t handle (and I’ve been to Ibiza twice.) Tennis is definitely off the cards, as I tend to run away from balls that come anywhere near me.

Last week I suggested to my sister that we should go running together. I saw her as even more of an exercise defeatist than I was, and felt, naively that I would feel positively professional next to the likes of her. For some reason, I had it in my head that as consumption of cake increases, fitness levels decline, and she is the only person I know who eats more pudding than I do. In my head, I thought I’d be encouraging her to go that extra kilometre, urging her to think of the benefits as she begged me to slow down.

How wrong I was. Within a few minutes of setting off, I was beginning to flag, while my sister was barely breaking into a sweat. She even knew what to do with her arms. Forget fun runs – this was torture. While I was finding even the smallest incline a struggle, she was upping the pace and looking at me as if to say “I thought you’d been doing this regularly for the last few weeks. Are you sure you haven’t just been sitting on the park bench?” I’ve never been very good at exerting myself physically and in the face of a challenge I usually give up. “You go on. It’s fine. Honestly, leave me here. I’ll see you back at home.” I sounded more like a wounded soldier in the First World War trenches, than a woman on a jog around the block. After humiliating myself with fitter members of my family, I have decided to go solo. That way, I won’t be letting anyone down.

For now, it’s just me, my awkward arms and the music. ‘Hey Fatty Boom Boom, Sweet Sugar Dumpling,’ sped up in my head (who needs an iPod when you can sing a really irritating song to yourself?) is my current favourite. It reminds me of why I’m running.

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One Response to “Hey fatty boom boom”

  1. leanne April 24, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    I wiggle mine ! X

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