Sporty Spice

I don’t know how it happened…it snuck up on me. I’ve become…what? Sporty is not quite to right word. What is the opposite of a couch potato? That’s me.

In 2002 I was in Paris and at an all-time weight high (125kgs). It was my 30th birthday and I was realising a dream. We were at the Arc de Triomphe and I wanted to climb the 100-or-so steps to the top to see the view of Paris. But I knew I’d not make it. I was so very unfit that it made the trip uncomfortable at times – I couldn’t do all the things I wanted to.

I came home determined to change my life. I was scared about the idea of losing weight (having had trouble with losing too much too soon in the past) so instead I focussed on getting fit. I joined the gym at work and started going.

At first it was pretty basic stuff. Walking on a treadmill, rowing machine, the dreaded crosstrainer. Eventually I got fit enough to try aerobics classes. My first step class almost killed me. Not because I was puffing but because I’m so uncoordinated that I spent the hour tripping over my step and flailing about. I decided to stick with the basics for a while longer. Walking became running, and I found myself lacing my sneakers for early morning road running, and actually enjoying it. I didn’t really lose much weight this way. In fact I think I gained weight at first. That was scary (and yes I know muscle weighs more than fat blah blah, it still freaked me out).

And so slowly I became fitter. I was never going to be super fit because I weighed in excess of 100kgs, but I was better. Healthier and happier. And eventually I did lose more weight, but that’s another story.

And now I seem to have become some kind of sporty spice. I run, I bike, I ice skate, I dance, and now I rollerblade. I’m thinking I’d like to join an indoor soccer team. How did this happen? I love it, it makes┬áme happy and it means I can keep up with super-speedy Wyatt, but I still find it incongruous with my self-image (a lazy fatty).

I guess my insides will catch up with my outsides eventually.

Be My Valentine

I’ve never been much of a one for all that gushy romantic stuff, especially Valentine’s Day. But in the last year I have celebrated my birthday and Xmas, so it would seem that the celebratory landscape is changing for me. Of course, it helps that I have an adorable boyfriend who likes buying me gifts…

I’ve been reading about this Valentine’s business. Did you know that we’ve been celebrating romantic love with heart-shaped cards, flowers and chocolates since the 14th century? And did you also know that we celebrate love on February 14th to remember the martyrdom of Saint Valentine, a man about who we know little except that he was Roman, and that he took it upon himself to marry young love-struck Christian couples. The very non-Christian Roman emperor was not amused. For his crimes, poor Valentinus was beaten and beheaded. And so in honour of this, we collectively send over a billion cards to one another professing-confessing our love and devotion to each other. And probably most of us don’t really think about why.


Since I started listening to podcasts and audiobooks in 2005, I have read paper books less and less. When I first started listening, I found it hard to pay attention to the spoken word for very long and my attention would wander. In order to help this, I began listening and playing games on my iPod at the same time – mostly just tetris or solitaire. The longer I listened to books, the easier it became to hear.

Now I am in the strange situation that I almost never read paper books, but I listen to books every day. Listening rather than reading has the advantage that you can do it hands-free. I can listen while cooking, cleaning, on the bus, wandering around the mall, out for a run. Books are great company. On re-listening, certain books evoke a strong memory of where I was when I first heard them (I listen a lot while travelling).

So here’s the thing. Will listening rather than reading make me intellectually lazy? Will I lose the ability to use my reading muscles if I don’t exercise them enough? Will I lose the ability to get absorbed in a good (paper) book?

Will audiobooks help develop my ‘paying attention when listening’ muscles?

Or does it simply just not matter?

I’m interested to know what you think.