I loaned my canoe and kayak to Chris a few years ago so he could go camping with his MAP buddies. When he returned I asked how the weekend went, expecting to hear tales of wild drunken cavorting in the bush. Turned out nobody had brought any beer, and the nearest thing to a decent drink in anyone’s kit was a protein shake from Popeye’s. I was disgusted at the time; but then time changes many things doesn’t it? And now, as Christmas approaches, can I honestly say that I’m looking forward to the reckless abandon that the season brings? Not really. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t begrudge other people their Christmas cheer, it’s just I find the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day too damned relaxing. Even if you really want to keep active there’s always someone whining at you to take it easy.
“What’s wrong with you; can’t you sit still for a minute? Here, get this Scotch down you and loosen up.”
But’s that’s the problem isn’t it? After a year of working out at Martial Arts Planet you don’t want to loosen up. All the effort has paid off: your one pack has segmented into six, your jellied butt has set into twin lobes of reinforced concrete, the tops of your thighs have finally parted company, and all the tackle in between has never felt in finer fettle. You look and feel magnificent.
And then comes Christmas, the slippery downhill slope, the mounting excuses to miss classes; you run around the mall instead of the gym, and gradually you grind to a halt. Evenings at UBfit become evenings at the bar, or at the trough, and you begin to fall back into your old ways – gluttony, sloth, and licentiousness. How does the old saying go:
Where indolence is bliss,’ tis folly, exercise…….or something like that.
And once you begin the slide into torpor the friends you’ve neglected in favour of a cleaner way of life gather about you like the Gadarene Swine, and you are led, as if by a nose ring, into the filthy habits of your disgraceful past.
An early morning run?………. What?…..ZZZzzzzzzzzzz.
Granola for breakfast?…..Pass me the bacon.
Herbal tea?……. I’ll have a Triple Venti Caramel Latte and an Apple Fritter!
So it goes on as Christmas approaches. Full fat milk on sugar-coated Frosties, poutine for lunch and the full turkey dinner. The server asks do you want stuffing, and you can’t resist the smart answer. One morning you splash rum into your protein shake and you know that rock bottom can’t be too far away. Yes, Christmas makes it all so easy, the great reversal, your world-class body greased daily with buckets of lard.
And then comes the reckoning; the hang-over after the debauch. It’s January 1st and you’ve slept past noon. You haul yourself out of whatever bed you find yourself in and scour the floor for your socks. Something obstructs your vision. You look down but a fleshy mass obscures your view. You blink but it doesn’t go away. And then cold reality exerts itself. The one-pack is back…. bigger…. rounder…… grotesque in its monstrousness. The porcine belly that you’ve laboured so hard to tame has burst from its abdominal harness to hang over your nether parts as if, over the course of just one week of partying, you have become pregnant with Oprah Winfrey.
You sit, horrified at the rapidity of your decline from sleek athleticism to flabby lassitude. You find your socks and attempt to pull them on, but your knee butts against your gut and you find your arms are too short for the task. You look in the mirror at the wreck you’ve created and despondency descends. Christmas, a week of revelry past, is a vague memory, the New Year’s party a blur, you’re left only with an unsettling sense of excess. But the effects of the holiday are writ large on your body, all the way from your jowly chin to arches flattened under the weight of your hulking mass. How can you face them at the gym looking like this? It’s the Land of No Excuses, remember? Will they take it easy on you? – not a chance! Will Janet hold back on the mountain-climbers? – get real! Will Chris skip the burpees? – you’ve got to be kidding! Is it going to hurt? – you can bet your life! You dread that Santa has brought Chris the books he asked for in his letter to the North Pole:
“Janet’s Manual for Ultimate UB Fitness”
“Girl-Fight: Janet Shows the Guys How It’s Done (Illustrated)”
“Warm-Up, Cool Down, and Janet’s Guide for a No-Wimp Work-Out in Between”
Just imagine if he’s read those over Christmas! If he ever gets the hang of Janet’s technique we might never coast through the Wednesday class again.
So, what to do as the festive season begins? Is discretion really the better part of valour? Is defence the best form of attack? Do we avoid the effect by mitigating the cause? If we exercise at all, would it not be best to exercise restraint? In short, should we make Christmas the season of self-denial??????
Thought not…….and make mine a double!
With best wishes for an indulgent holiday,