take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Taking the plunge 

I'm feeling rather pleased with myself. And if you know me, you'll know that "rather pleased" is quite an achievement when it relates to myself. Not as rare an occurrence as "delighted", but certainly rarer than the default of "vaguely disappointed" (or "meh" for short).

You see, I'm doing a thing that I've been saying I'd do for many years.

It's only a little, insignificant thing, but it's still a thing.

I'm not doing it particularly well, stylishly, quickly or efficiently at the moment, but I'm still doing it.

In fairness, I did attempt to start doing it back in February this year (I'd arranged and paid for lessons, and everything), but the small matter of Acute. Renal. Failure. got in the way, somewhat. I think I'm allowed that as an excuse, on this occasion.

So yes, I have taken the plunge. Quite literally. Well, when I say "plunge", I mean "tentative and rather wobbly descent down a ladder". So not literally at all.

I have started swimming with the specific purpose of establishing it as my exercise régime of choice. You see, I started running again and something happened which had never happened before. I went for my third run/walk (the first two had been successful; encouraging, even) and I had to stop after five minutes. I felt sick. I had to walk home. I got scared. I realised that I am not physically the same person any more. Running is too harsh for me at the moment and I must find an alternative.

So I have joined a gym with a pool.

Of course, there is a whole host of anxieties which comes as part of the gym/pool package.

The "I have to wear a swimsuit sort of in public" anxiety.

I have been surprisingly blasé about this one, actually. I figure that I look so appalling at the moment, a bit of cellulite can't make that much difference.

The "I'm really, really crap at this" anxiety.

I only like doing things that I'm good at. I'm not asking to be at Olympic standard here, I just want to be able to chug up and down, nice and steadily, for fitness. I can't do this yet. I have to stop and recover after each length because I'm so unfit, my technique is probably all wrong and I'm almost certainly not breathing correctly.

The "Why does everyone else make it look so effortless?" anxiety.

Here I go again, comparing myself to others. But it is hard not to when you're in the same pool as them. When they go gliding past you, underwater. When they've done four lengths in the time it's taken you to do one and to stand there gasping for a while.

The "Why don't I appear to be moving forward when I do breaststroke?" anxiety.

Lord only knows what I'm doing wrong. Everything, probably. But no matter how much I flail around, my forward progress when attempting breaststroke is, at best, pitiful. Backstroke is also interesting - I simply splash my face with so much water that I have to stop halfway up the pool. I always end up doing front crawl, which I can sort of do, after a fashion. Fashion, I said, not style.

Swimming, for me, is synonymous with panic. As soon as I push off, my only thought is: "Quick, get to the other end before you drown!" and off I splosh, leaving in my wake a flurry of white water. I forget to breathe in, I forget to breathe out, I just flail around until I reach the other end. I imagine, for a spectator, that it's probably quite amusing to watch.

But I do have something in my favour: I did it with running. I started out not being able to run for more than one minute at a time and ended up being able to run for over two hours.

So maybe, just maybe I can do it with swimming. At least I am trying.

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