New York is full of really fit women.
I don't mean 'fit' like the English say it (although that statement would also be sadly true, and the title may have misled you (I just liked the way it sounded)) but you know, fitness fit. They work out. They can run fast, jump high, bend themselves into funny positions. That sort of fit.
I think I may have implied once or twice before that fitness is not something that comes naturally to me. Like any New Zealand kid, I grew up swimming and boating and climbing trees and riding bikes, but I was never what you would call a sporty type. I was more than happy to do things I considered fun, but the minute you introduced any element of competition, or even organisation, into the mix, I went to pieces. I used to be so jealous of the kids who didn't have to do the cross country run because they had asthma. I wish I had that debilitating, occasionally life-threatening illness!, I would think. I used to vaguely daydream about pinching someone's inhaler and passing it off as my own, waving it around like a trophy that you got before you had to compete. I never did though, as I was smart enough to realise this would be fairly devastating for the child whose inhaler it was, and also, I did not like getting in trouble. I had two brothers who could get in trouble enough for all three of us.
Once the inglorious days of forced activity had passed me I relaxed into living my life the way I wanted to, managing to keep my fitness levels at a respectable level (yes, on the low end of respectable, but respectable nonetheless) through an active job, lots of walking, lots of rollerblading, and always lots of those long hot New Zealand summers on the beach, where you couldn't avoid fitness even if you tried.
This worked for me for a good few years, until two things happened: I moved to London and - irony of ironies - was diagnosed with a debilitating, occasionally life-threatening disease (whichever deity answered my prayers had a hearing problem. And was also a supreme procrastinator). In London, fitness isn't just something that hangs invisibly in the air, the way it does in New Zealand. You have to think about it. So I got used to thinking about it, and then my health fell off a cliff, crash landing at the bottom in a crumpled, injured heap, leaving me unable to even walk up a flight of stairs without feeling woozy and breathless.
When you're sick like that, you don't realise at the time. It's only after a crack team of nurses and doctors, all of them amazing, caring, thoughtful, and kind, move in and pull a few strings to get you standing on your own two feet again, that you understand you really weren't doing so well. And when that happens, you want to use those two feet as much as you can. So, I started running. I started doing yoga. I started ballet classes. Whether I was good at them or not was irrelevant (thankfully. That's all I'll say about that - draw your own conclusions). They made me happy and they made me feel good and they made me so thankful that I could do them.
And I thought I was doing really well.
Then I moved to New York. Where every woman you see appears to have the fitness level of a trained assassin. Despite all this newfound activity, I did not have the fitness level of a trained assassin. I barely had the fitness level of a trained seal. And oddly, even though I hate competition, I'm actually quite a competitive person, and so...
Can you see where this is going?
Yes, I joined a gym. The pinnacle of organised activity. Just the sort of place I should hate.
But I don't. That's the weird thing, the result that is surprising us all. I go frequently, and I enjoy my time there. I'm not completely sure what's driving me - whether it's my competitive spirit or my desire to have people whisper, "Wow, she looks just like a trained assassin," to each other as I walk by - but I have my suspicions. I'm afraid it's even less noble than that.
I'm getting married at the end of the year (cue groan - but hear me out, this is different, I promise). We all know that lots of women, when they get married, decide to drop a few kilos. I'm not one of them. Some women, surely, when they get married, decide to gain a few kilos (not that I've ever heard of any women, anywhere, who aim for this - but there must be some, right?). I'm certainly not one of them. No, my aim is to stay the exact same size.
That shouldn't actually be a hard thing. I'm always the same size. My weight really doesn't fluctuate. Theoretically, it should require no effort at all.
Thing is though, my dress was delivered into my hot little hands the other day, and it fits perfectly. Amazingly. Like it was made for me.
A good thing, no doubt, but it does mean I now have three and a half months in which to stay just the same. Something which should be easy, but in my mind, has taken on the vibe of a Herculean task. Now that I have to think about it, not changing at all has become a worrying problem. And so, I am throwing myself into the gym, treadmilling and cross-training and weight-lifting frenetically, happy and safe in the knowledge that if the unthinkable does happen and I end up losing a little bit of weight...
I can just stop.
Yep, that's it, that's my motivation. I sweat in order for nothing to happen. And I love it. Whoever would have thought?