There was a time I could touch my toes, run a six minute kilometre, and shoot hoops more accurately than my big brother. I was an athlete. I loved sports, I took care of my body, and I broke and set all sorts of sports records for where I lived.
That was before I discovered booze, 24-hour Chinese take out food, and sex. Which by itself could be considered athletic, and goodness knows I put a lot of effort in perfecting my skill, but when you combine it with it’s natural conclusion of children, it all equaled one thing:
A very doughy arse. My doughy arse. Suddenly the only real athletic activity I was partaking in was pushing a grocery cart to my car while trying to herd my smalls. My interest in sports waned; any time I had to workout evaporated, and any athleticism that remained was reserved for screaming at the television screen whenever my hockey team was playing a game.
Suddenly I’m a 36-year-old ex-smoker, mother of four, with the lungs of a 95-year-old who worked in a coalmine her entire life. Never mind the full body jello jiggle I’m rocking, it would be nice to be able to walk more than two feet without worrying my lungs are going to explode into a billion pieces of pink confetti.
It’s time to start moving so that when I do, not so much of me shakes like a bowl full of jelly.
Contrary to what I tell myself, there is just nothing sexy when you can feel the jiggle right down to your toes.
However, after years of little to no activity, a severe back injury, smoker’s lungs, fluctuating waist sizes, and an over all tendency to embrace the lazy in life, where does one even start when it comes to getting back on the road to fitness and health?
As it would turn out, one starts by putting one foot in front of the other and then the other and then repeating that recipe. It really isn’t rocket science.
You know what is rocket science though?
It’s been a long, looooooong time since I’ve had to buy proper athletic footwear for anyone other than my children. I found myself staring at rows and rows and rows of some of the ugliest shoes known to mankind. Every shoe had a different purpose, each was made with the latest space age technology and every single one of them cost more than I wanted to spend.
I must have looked fat, unfit, and horribly confused because instead of shoe sales people descending upon me like a plague of starving locusts, they looked at me, shuddered, and then refused to make eye contact.
It was like they were scared my general sloth-like demeanor was contagious. Clearly I was shopping in the right place. These people took fitness personally.
After what seemed like an eternity of standing around helplessly looking at one ugly runner after another, a lone brave soldier, er, shoe salesman approached and asked if he could help. I about wept with relief but then I realized that would likely send him scurrying. Because what is more unattractive than an unfit slob staring at shoes she clearly haven’t used in years? That same slob weeping in public about over-priced sneakers.
“Yes, I need to find a running shoe.”
“What type of running shoe?”
“Um, one that is self-propelled with it’s own engine?” I joked.
Blink, blink. He wasn’t laughing. At all.
“Um, I mean, one for running. I want to run.”
He nodded like I had finally jumped through the right fiery hoop and then asked, “Where will you be running?”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t typically tell strange men where I live within the first five minutes of meeting them. Unless they are naked firemen holding a kitten.” Like sheesh. Safety first Mr. Shoe salesman.
“No. On what type of surface will you be running? Treadmill, trail, track, or pavement?” He spoke slowly, clearly enunciating each word in the hopes I’d understand and stop making bad jokes.
“Oh! Um, treadmill and trail I suppose. I live in the middle of nowhere, and my parents gave me their treadmill, and I don’t really want to pay money to run on a track so that people can watch what basically will look like a hippopotamus with a bad knee gallop around in circles…” I noticed his eyes were starting to glaze over. “Um, primarily treadmill. But sometimes I’ll be running on gravel roads.”
“And your shoe size?”
“It’s about the same as my foot,” I joked. Because when I’m nervous I make inappropriate cracks. Clearly. “Er, 8. A solid 8.”
He looked at me, looked at my feet, and then turned around and walked away.
I knew it.
I had driven the poor man away with my inane nervous chatter. Just as I was about to leave the store and try somewhere else, my new friend came back with an arm full of boxes containing an assortment of shoes.
He helped me try on one shoe after another, each time asking me a more pointed question than the next, while watching my gait as I tried walking in a sneaker, and the entire time I made one nervous joke after another.
Finally, it was just me and two pairs of sneakers. My sales person had broken into a sweat but was starting to loosen up a bit mostly because I’m pretty sure he could see the end of our new relationship.
“So, the choice is yours. Either shoe would be what you need,” he said as he held up two different types of sneakers. I just stood there staring at them, silent.
“Well?” he prompted.
“I don’t know. I can’t decide. They both feel great. They are both equally ugly. And they are both the same price. How does one decide?” I questioned.
He looked at me and remained silent. I could totally tell I was working his last nerve.
In for a penny, in for a pound.
“I know!” I proclaimed. “I’ll try each shoe on again, and you can tell me which makes my arse look smaller.”
At which point, my poor new friend dropped the shoes and muttered something about it being his break time and I never saw him again. I did however pick the purple pair.
They totally make my butt look good.
And now, whenever I put on my new shoes, I think of my old friend Simon.
I can’t wait until I need another pair of runners and we cross paths again. That is, if I can keep up the energy it takes to repeatedly put one foot in front of the other.