Tag Archives: lycra

Yummy Mummy or Boring Bob?

27 Mar

women's magazines

I am at an age where I’m old enough to be someone’s mother. I am actually a mother as I have two kids. What I mean is that I am now old enough to be the mother (maybe even grandmother) of the generation I consider to be ‘young’, the wannabes, the men and women who will be our next future. And that makes me feel old. Listen closely enough and I can sometimes be heard uttering the telling phrase: “Policemen are so young these days”. What’s a girl woman to do when she finds herself at the top of  a slippery slope grabbing on for dear life with her stubby fingernails?

I’m not a big fan of health and beauty magazines aimed at women. They’re very pretty to look at and sometimes even include an interesting feature amidst their trivialisation of women (under the guise of empowerment of course). They have the ability to tweak the love handles and poke the pimples of anyone harbouring a dash of insecurity. One day they could even be the cause of my daughter valuing lipstick over the human race. It was to my horror then that I found myself reaching for the latest issue of the Boots Health & Beauty magazine looking for inspiration and solace. Such depths of self-pity had I reached.

Egged on by the promise of “tiny and oh-so-doable steps” and just the hint of the chance to CHANGE MY LIFE, I stumbled across Louise Kearney whose goal was to “look glam at the school gates”:

“When I drop the kids off at school, the other mums always look so well turned out and cool – I wish I knew their secret! … I’d love to re-invent myself as a yummier mummy, but I’ve got no idea where to start.”

Louise may have been smiling in the photo but it was a desperate cry for help and it struck a chord. My two children are now old enough that I can start to reclaim my body safe in the knowledge that I’m not planning a pregnancy that will come and b*gger it all up again. Like Louise, I will become a school runner from September when my oldest starts to drag me daily into the snake pit that I’m led to believe the school playground to be. Oh clever, clever Boots magazine! Louise could be me. I was practically ripping open the laptop to order the magical products prescribed to cure lovely Louise of her baggy mumsiness.

Most exciting of all was the discovery that I was already halfway there to achieving the status of aged, yet desirable, woman. I have a bob. There was me thinking I had a boring old haircut. But no, look in the mirror again and feel the power of the bob. According to Lord Trevor of Sorbie, Louise’s ‘hair expert’ in the article, a razored bob is the way forward: “Trust me – a shorter style will help turn back the clock”. I trust you Trevor, I trust you.

Content that I now had the tools to be gorgeous, I let my guard down and dipped into the rest of the magazine. Little did I realise that my new found confidence was about to be shaken. On page 24 I received the following slap in the face courtesy of the magazine’s columnist, soon to be 40-year-old (gasp!) Katy Regan:

“Plus I’ll ditch the bob, which my twenty-something make stylist informs me ‘is a look only women over 35 go for these days’!”

Only sad, desperate old women over 35. The bob: the blue-rinse for the 30-something generation. How we’ll laugh at them behind their backs when they ask for a cut a bit more ‘Ann Hathaway’ and we tell them that a bob would much better flatter their face shape. It hides the wrinkles and the jowls, darling. Know thy place.

The world of women’s magazines yet again reveals just how superficial it can be. Whilst I am frightened by the industry’s output and the negative impact it can have on self image, I am even more frightened that there are people (usually women) writing this content and failing to see the hypocrisy of it. Scarier still is if they are producing the content in full knowledge of their influence but are choosing to subjugate any twinges of sisterly solidarity. Of course these magazines have their place and should never be taken too seriously (indeed, I feel I am getting a bit serious here and may need to pause to adjust my blue stockings). But the potential of even the most lightweight and frivolous of magazines to do harm should never be underestimated. Especially by an old duffer with a bob like me.

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There aren’t even any hills

9 Sep

Today I had to deal with failure. A failure so great that not even doing Groovy Moves with Chris and Pui was able to cheer me up. What could possibly cause such depths of anguish? Well it’s this:  I left home a runner and I returned home a failure.

For the very first time I failed to complete one of the runs in the Couch to 5k program. Every run so far has left me amazed with and surprised at myself, always having managed to do better than I expected. It may be with a heavy heart that I leave the house each time (I’m not a natural runner) but I normally return uplifted and raring to go again having lived to run another day. Today, I may as well have been running with one of my children strapped to each leg and an elephant on my back for good measure. My chest hurt. It was hot, too hot. My breathing was so heavy that people became aware of my presence 50 metres before I reached them.

After nearly 20 minutes I headed home, determined that I wasn’t actually going to stop before I got there but probably at this point being overtaken by pedestrians. I only had 10 minutes left to complete the 28 minute run but I’d given up. Curses on my lack of stamina and pathetically weak will. (My sense of failure was made all the worse by the fact that there were Paralympians hurtling round a marathon course today and I couldn’t even manage a paltry half hour.) I honestly shed a couple of tears.

But enough of my self-pity. On the upside, I did manage 3km which I certainly won’t sniff at given that in week 1 I was practically huffing up my internal organs after just 60 seconds of running. Plus, I had actually got out the door after over two weeks of procrastination. I am the Queen of Excuse Making once the novelty of any form of exercise has worn off:

  • I’m too tired.
  • It’s too late.
  • I’ve got my period. (During which time you won’t find me roller skating, kite flying or wearing tight beige trousers despite what advertisers might lead you to believe ladies on the blob do.)
  • It’s too dark. (I’ve added this one to prove that the excuses above really do relate to normal exercise and not ‘bedroom exercise’. For the latter it can never be too dark, right ladies?)
  • It’s too hot.
  • I have some work I really need to do. (That’s for when I’m really scraping the bottom of the excuse barrel.)

So why have I told you this? Because there are a hell of a lot of couch potatoes like me out there who every single day fight an internal battle with their lycra wearing alter ego. For most of us running comes as naturally as writing an upbeat, non-wrist slitting song does to Chris Martin (sorry, watching the Paralympic closing ceremony as I write …) but we still drag ourselves out to achieve whatever our goal may be. I reckon it’s okay to bugger it up every once in a while.  I won’t give up if you won’t.

Quite frankly I’m a bit pooped

19 May

I am writing this fresh from ‘going for a run’. When I say fresh, I mean fresh – I’m slightly moist and clammy and my intergluteal cleft will be leaving a damp patch on the chair. This wasn’t just any old run though. It was my first ever run in what have been 35 pedestrian years of life.

When I say I’ve been for a run, I ought to qualify that. What I’ve actually done is embark on the NHS’s Couch to 5k regime. The website describes it as follows: the “C25K plan is designed to get just about anyone off the couch and running 5km in nine weeks.” I’m delighted that I have proved myself to be “just about anyone” – for me that’s practically an Olympic gold medal – and not someone whose arse has become truly and irreversibly melded to the couch.

I’m not ashamed to admit it was touch and go though. I’ve been thinking about dusting off the trainers for a good couple of weeks after hearing of a friend’s success with C25K (I even downloaded the podcasts a week ago) but I then made polite excuses and slowly sank deeper into the sofa. I was too tired. I was too hungry. I’d got flat feet (but then someone told me that Linford Christie has too – sigh). There might be a nuclear holocaust whilst I was out and I really ought to be at home near my kids.

And so tonight I at last struggled into my industrial strength sports bra (I’m not bragging – to be honest it’s not entirely needed and any post-breastfeeding mother will testify to the inevitable disappointment in that area). I was a little out of puff after getting the bra on and that really didn’t bode well. Yet I got out the door (having also added tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt to the sports bra in case you were wondering) and returned having run for a whole EIGHT MINUTES. Okay, so it was 60 seconds of running followed by 90 seconds of brisk walking but it was still eight minutes. Yay for me and all the couch tatties in the world! (Hell’s bells, I’m pooped though.)

I’m measuring the success of this run on four important criteria:

  1. Did my pelvic floor hold out? YES (I didn’t stray far from home just in case …)
  2. Did I trip over any uneven pavement and knock my front teeth out? NO
  3. Was I chased by any dogs? NO
  4. Did anyone see me? NO. Well apart from one elderly man who I waved at so as to disguise my lack of style. And what better way to make it look like I wasn’t running like a girl than by flapping my arms?

I’d tentatively say that tonight was a success. I’ll never be a runner, nor will I be kitting myself out in lycra or getting ‘in the zone’ as I thunder around the local recreation ground dodging the dog muck. But as with any sporting achievement for the girl who was always picked last in PE, it can only be good for me.

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