Immediately I inhale my breath through clenched teeth and curled lips, ready to defend myself. I hear this a lot, you see. Interestingly never from my gym buddies or running club mates, but frequently from (not so close) friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Lazy ones.
Today, rather than get immediately on the defensive, I want to step into the insulter’s shoes (because let’s face it, that phrase is always going to be intended as an insult). So let’s look at how much exercise I’d do on an average week –
CrossFit – usually 4 or 5 one hour classes per week. We don’t actually exercise for the full hour – it’s normally less than half this but I’m physically in the gym for the hour so for the sake of argument we’ll call it 5 hours a week.
Running – this varies a lot from month to month but at the moment I’m probably spending 3-4 hours a week out running. For now, we’ll call it 4.
So that’s a total of 9 hours a week. I also spend additional time stretching and doing mobility work. Personally I would say that everybody should do this regardless of if you exercise or not. But again, to look at it objectively let’s stick another hour a week on there for stretching. So, on average, 10 hours a week. 40 hours a month. That’s more than enough hours to earn me the ‘obsessed’ badge by many.
I asked the person who labelled me obsessed if they liked to watch any soaps.
“Oh yes! Eastenders and Coronation Street are my favourites but I like Emmerdale and Hollyoaks too,” was the enthusiastic response. “Oh and Neighbours – can’t forget about Neighbours, I’ve watched that for decades!”
“And do you watch every episode of those soaps?”
“Of course! If I’m out I’ll record them or watch the omnibus at the weekend.”
I smiled and they frowned……I think it dawned on them where I was heading with this. A quick tot up and their approximate weekly fix of soap operas spans 11 and a half hours. 46 hours a month. And that’s just soaps alone – no other tv shows, news items or films (which they confirmed they watched a lot of each week).
Would I ever accuse someone of being obsessed with television? I really wouldn’t. And I don’t believe that’s because I’m a nice person who wouldn’t say boo to a goose (I am nice but I hate geese and regularly tell them so). No, I think it’s because sitting in front of the television each night is far more socially acceptable than to go out running or head to the gym.
But why? Honestly, I don’t know. I’ll guess that people who never exercise perhaps feel a sense of inadequacy. They know they probably should get up off that sofa at some point, but for whatever reason they don’t. And rather than say fair play to you, I wish I could do that most will deflect that feeling by mocking or insulting the person that does.
And of course, how other people spend their free time is no concern of mine. I think everyone should do whatever makes them happy and stop being so Judgey McJudge Face. I just think it’s a little sad that I’d be considered much more ‘normal’ if I spent every evening in front of the television and every weekend sitting in a pub.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to sit on the sofa with my husband and a big bowl of doritos and whatever the latest Netflix craze is. I like to go out with my friends and that will often involve a pub. On a Friday I like to get home as soon as possible and put on pyjamas by 5pm. It’s just that these particular days are interspersed with early mornings at the gym, nights at the running track and an occasional race. And that’s not because I’m punishing myself or feel that I ought to be doing those things – it’s because I love to do those things and I love how doing those things makes me feel, both in mind and body. And I get that some people just won’t understand that feeling, and it’s a shame.
But I’m getting much better at laughing off the insults (you should see how some of my colleagues react when they learn that I *gasp* lift weights). These days rather than immediately get on the defensive I’m much more inclined to respond to a “You’re obsessed” statement with a wry smile and a “Yes – from your perspective”.
All I know is that when I’m on my death bed I’ll be thankful for the full and energetic life I’ve lived and I certainly won’t be crying over all the goings on I’ve missed from Albert Square….