Friday, June 15, 2007
I licked the garbage bin and now I want to die
It's curious how circular life is. An example: a month ago I blogged about wanting to take a fitness challenge as I was hungover, tired and felt like I'd licked the inside of a garbage bin. A month later I have returned to feeling exactly the same way.

I've come a full circle, I told myself as I sat in the fluorescent McDonalds on Oxford Street without even the solace of something to read. Instead I watched the ads on a plasma TV for McDonalds products and endorsements about McDonalds community projects, drank a coke and ate some product wrapped in some stuff.

Dinner parties are dicey things, I reflected as I chewed on the stuff and thought about what happened last night to bring me so low today.

Could it be called a success if at 11pm the guests disappeared to buy more wine and cigarettes, then stayed until 2am, sitting outside in the rain arguing if democracy was an absolute or a construct and were there examples where it had been imposed and failed?

Yes, that could possibly be construed as a success. But from a health point of view it was a disaster. It has lead me to the too-bright McDonalds. Its lead me to cancelling Sapt as I thought I may throw up on her. It led me to feeling depressed and questioning whether I can do this health thing. And worst of all it has lead me to the door marked DETOX.

That's right. I start a detox on Sunday. No booze. No ciggies. No lollies. No McDonalds. No caffeine. No refined sugars, wheat, dairy, red meat or processed foods.

I will still have dinner parties but they will be special detox dinners where guests bring pulses not Pilsner. It will be the sort of dinner party where guests are bound to leave early after discussing nothing particularly interesting and the next day I can see Sapt and eat a salad without wanting to DIE.

I'll let you know how the detox goes. I'll do it for 6 days with the help of naturopath to the stars, Max Tomlinson and the support of my boss Katie, who will also be detoxing with me.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The burden of fatigue
I wrote yesterday in a jocular manner that I felt like a smudge because of all the treatments. But today I feel worse, like I have been killed but they didn't quite finish the job.

Who is my murderer? It could be Sapt, the personal trainer, who this morning made me flip myself backwards over a Swiss Ball, or it could be the masseur from yesterday who I heard murmur the word 'toxins' over the sound of whale song in the treatment room or it could be my boss who commissioned me to go into a floatation tank, despite the fact that its left me traumatised and confused, as I confronted what it must have been like in the womb?

Or could it be that trying to get fit means you hit a point where your body, freaking out from the newness of it all cannot get through the day without a nice hot cup of tea, a lie-down and a bit of a whinge?

It seems right now my body is rebelling against all this strangeness and all it wants to do is curl into a ball (not a Swiss one) and sleep. Forever.

As for the Shamanic Trance Dance I am meant to be attending tonight as part of this project, I think it (my physical self) likes the idea of trance (not too far from my normal state) but not the idea of dance. As for Shamanic, well it's not quite sure what that is.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I am a smudge
"Ohh you lucky thing, another treatment!" less pampered friends coo at me as I explain I am off for a facial/floatation tank/massage/psycho-drama therapy/Shamanic Trance Dance classes.

Many of these friends work at the grubby coalface of news - reporting on what's going on out there in the world, with all its misery and its majesty.

But I on the other hand am as far from the coalface as its possible to get. This morning's assignment saw me lathered in essential oils, with some sort of cool goo on my eyes murmuring, "Yes, that pressure's fine thanks."

While fellow CNN reporters are in war zones or at least in press conferences, I could be found this morning in the chill-out room of the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge in a cream robe, lying on a chaise lounge, reading a copy of Tatler and eating grapes.

"Don't hate me too much!" I tell my worn-out, unpampered friends. "My job has its hazards and its heartaches!"

The chief hazard and heartache is that I feel peculiarly blurry all the time - as if I am some sort of smudge. Like now - I am at work but I don't really feel present, I'm not quite sure that I'm real.

Maybe its a side effect of all the essential oils that have seeped into my skin. Maybe I have been rubbed so much by masseurs that they have rubbed me out. I have been exfoliated to such an extent that my very borders are on the back of some scouring pad somewhere in Knightsbridge awaiting the furnace. Oh no - not the furnace!

The heavy robe is but a cage, the grapes are but the Grapes of Wrath.....I am in the words of T.S Eliot: "Shape without form, shade without colour, Paralysed force, gesture without motion;" or at least this is what I tell my friends who envy my spa treatments. Don't! I say. I am a smudge.

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Monday, June 11, 2007
Walking in the country
Maybe I would enjoy exercise more if it combined one of my favourite activities – going to the pub with friends.

The Evil Gym doesn’t have a bar – it does however have a couch where you can have umlimited top-ups of fizzy drinks and read the Daily Mail. Errr - no thanks.

A search of other gyms in the area also failed to yield a bar or at the very least a comfortable environment where I could entertain my friends whilst continuing with my fitness challenge.

The only thing for it was to get out of town and exercise in the open air (so I wear a hat - see above).

On the weekend we drove out of the city in my friend’s convertible. It was fun. I sat in the backseat wearing a puffa jacket backwards and shouting “What? What did you just say?”

The sat nav didn’t work, meaning we spent most the day in a very unlovely part of London where it would not be out of the question if I was stabbed. I compiled the reasons why I may be stabbed: I looked like a wan**er, I was in a Saab convertible, I had lost control of the broadsheets I was nursing and the books’ pages were flying into the cars behind me (“Give me back my Delillo review!” I shouted to a white van man) , we were listening to folk music – and even worse - singing along, I was wearing a puffa jacket backwards, we were going to the country for a walk. I had turned into my parents. Stab me! Stab me now.

But we made it down to Kent unstabbed. We went to the pub first. It was a ye olde find – made for English midgets about 400 years ago. I had a warm beer and a steak and ale pie with gravy. My pals had the same. We passed a happy hour in silence – reading our mangled newspapers and inhaling our pies.

Now for the exercise bit. We had a book of walks. We appointed a navigator. We appointed someone to carry the backpack. I carried a small stick and a mini pinecone.

The walk was 10 miles and it was stunning. It was like being on the treadmill in the Evil Gym but instead there was fresh air, and my friends, and conversations and some really interesting things to look at. Instead of looking at video clips of Beyonce or Britney gyrating on the borders of porn we saw the following things on the walk:
- birds of prey circling a field
- a steam train with a whistle that sounded like a hiss
- trainspotters at intervals along the tracks, some wearing fluorescent vests, others in corduroy
- a sewerage treatment plant
- a red fox with a glistening, healthy coat and its almost Britney-like come-thither stare
- rabbits the same colour as dry grass
- a man walking through the woods in a tuxedo who stopped and said Hello
- a man on a blue plough who didn’t
- half a dozen chicks in the darkened hollow of a tree – their eyes bright in the dark, their mouths huge and chirps that sounded hungry
- a woman playing a harp in an inn we passed along the way
- a large snail without its shell
- a massive bumblebee

It was lovely. What a civilized way to exercise, I thought. Maybe it’s the surprises in nature that makes it feel so not like a chore.

On the way back to the city I thought of the gym I could open for city people who can’t get to the country for walks. I would set them up on a treadmill next to their friends, after everyone had eaten pies and drunk a beer. I would make sure it was only dear friends – not someone you only half-like. I would dapple the lighting to make it look like sunlight coming though the canopy of trees.

Then I would throw things at the treadmill – things that would delight the walkers: a porcupine, a child’s pony, a flower-girl on her way to a wedding, a tuba player, a friendly squirrel, some blujays, bunches of wild flowers and an ancient stag.

And the people on the treadmill would walk for hours and hours hardly aware they were exercising and exclaim to their friends at all the amazing things they had seen.

They would step off the treadmill and go into a room where the ceilings are low and the fires are lit and there is a cheery barman with rosy cheeks – and drinks are drunk, before puffas are put on backwards and everyone goes home and lives happily ever after.

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Welcome to the diary of a reluctant exerciser. Having previously shunned fitness regimes in favour of bacon sandwiches, Brigid Delaney vows to finally shape up, get fit and eat more healthily. Over the next three months read how she gets on in a brave new world of gyms, exercise classes and no bacon sandwiches.
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