'Pounding the streets' is possibly putting it a little strongly, but I've kept to my resolve to get out early in the morning and do a standard two-mile walk (and it is two miles - I measured it carefully, using connected waypoints, on a zoomed-into digital Ordnance Survey map on my laptop screen) at a good pace, sustained throughout. In fact this morning I did the two miles in 34 minutes non-stop, which of course is over three miles per hour.
Motivation is the thing. I am tired of feeling overweight. I am tired of carrying too much fat, and bulging in the wrong places. I am not a small woman, but I can be slimmer and feel fitter. I want the satisfaction of looking fit and healthy without seeming fanatical about all that. I don't ever want to be just muscle and bone - a little plumpness can look very pleasant - but I do want to shed weight and girth, and wear a wider range of clothes again. I want to look acceptable in a one-piece swimsuit, and not just like a beached whale. Just in case I can afford a second cruise at some point, I want to have a body that will look attractive on the sun deck. I want to live another thirty years. And now, with some NHS Trusts in the news about denying routine surgery to obese patients, the writing seems on the wall: excess weight must come off. Playing at it is no longer an option. It must be tackled seriously, and the effort made habitual.
Making a start is surely the biggest hurdle. I know myself. Short of a direct order from a surgeon, I do not take kindly to any advice or recommendations that are thrust at me, with the implication that I will be a Failed Person if I ignore any of it. I am very stubborn. I must adopt a regime of my own choosing, at a moment that feels right to me. But that moment has now come.
The thirty-four minute local morning walk each day is just the beginning. I shall gradually add to that, and will probably end up doing two such walks each day, all year round, as well as taking other opportunities to get up on my feet and go from point to point at a brisk pace.
I've already decided that my next visit to London will be a structured one: I shall select a series of things that I want to photograph, and walk as fast as possible between them. So I won't be standing in queues, shuffling around museums, sitting in cafés, popping into shops, or lolling in parks. I shall be on my feet, legging it from point to point. And to be honest, with that background terrorist threat, it might not be safe to use the Underground. (I'd consider using the river buses, as a treat, though) This is of course a project for cooler months. I'm thinking mid-November. The off-peak day return fare on the train, with a Senior Railcard discount, is only £9.30. Add on - say - another £10.70 for lunch and refreshments until I go home in the late-afternoon, and I can have my walk, my photography, and a day in The Smoke on just one twenty-pound note. London can be done cheaply.
Talking of money, when the regular exercise is only walking there is no extra expense involved. Any suitable clothing will do. Footwear needs more attention, but then I have these Skechers, bought earlier this year:
A trip to London will require the usual orange cross-body Italian bag - there's a cardigan and water-bottle to carry - but my short-but-regular local morning walk needs only a bum bag. And I have a nice one, made of black leather. Here it is, in a shot taken yesterday:
It's got a main compartment (big enough to swallow purse, phone, and possibly sunglasses) and two front pockets (for tissues or whatever) - all of them with a zip. I wear my house and car keys on a cord around my neck.
This bum bag has a history. It was bought in France in June 2000. M--- and I each bought one. It was a pre-caravan holiday in the Vendée, and M--- and I were staying for ten nights in a gîte (half a farmhouse) at Les Magnils-Reigniers, a few kilometres outside a town called Luçon. It was a good holiday. We saw a lot of the Vendée coast and countryside, and I shot it all. All that photography was experimental, because I had with me my very first digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 990. I was only just getting to grips with it. Indeed I was only just getting to grips with my entire home-computing setup, also newly-purchased.
I hadn't yet devised an efficient photo-filing system. This made it hard to back up my photos, and I hadn't yet done so. Restructuring the filing system was going to be an autumn project.
Unfortunately in my (then) ignorance about PCs and their ways, I didn't notice warning signs that it was about to crash. It duly did. Nowadays I'd know how to restart the computer, and recover everything by one means or another. But back then I hadn't a clue. After a week of frantic research and tinkering, I had to admit defeat. With huge reluctance, I wiped the PC and reinstalled the OS from the disk supplied.
The episode was fatal for my digital photo collection, already two or three thousand strong. Some of it had, thank goodness, been put onto CD. M---'s Family Millennium Gathering for instance. But nearly all the French Holiday pictures were gone. M--- was not pleased. My stock feel sharply that day. Soon after, I reconfigured my photo filing system and instituted proper backup procedures that I still use. Every photo now has multiple backups, the first as part of the initial editing process.
And not long afterwards, I learned how to recover files after a crash. I kicked myself. Had I known, none of those French Holiday shots need have been lost. I confessed this to M---. She was cool with me for a bit, but relented, although I think she never quite forgave me for deleting the memories of one of our best holidays.
This is the only French Holiday picture from 2000 that I have ever been able to recover. And only because I'd turned it into a birthday card for Mum, who kept it, so that the card could be photographed later on. It's a pretty corner of Les Magnils-Reigniers:
We were back in that area again in 2002, but in the caravan this time, returning from the far south-west of France, and we didn't stay more than a day or two. I haven't visited France since.
The bum bag was handy on many summer occasions in the following years, but in time it got relegated to the house. I used it as a pouch in which to place my phone when playing music with earphones, most often when ironing. I thought I must have plenty of shots of myself doing this, but actually there is only a set of pictures taken seven years ago in 2009. They are very posed. It's me cavorting about and ending up playing an air guitar while I listen to some rock music. It must have been an amazing track!
Suzi Quatro, anyone?
Hmm, I was carrying less heft then. Smaller boobs. A waist. It's a physical state I'd like to get back to.