Fit for purpose?

It’s come to my attention that I’m a fat bastard.

I’ve been ignoring the evidence for some time, but it’s no longer possible. When I hauled my flubbery arse on to the scales just before Christmas, they broke. Warnings don’t come much clearer.

So: The new year diet (check) and the exercise regime (oh shit).

I hate exercise. Or rather, I hate the formal, trainers-and-gym-kit kind. Not just because it’s intensely boring and painful (although it is), but because it’s such a waste of time. And so fucking undignified.

There is always something more profitable, useful, helpful or intellectually worthwhile to be done than bobbing up and down on a cross-trainer blowing buckets of sweat and snot over passers-by.

Sadly, though, something has to give; otherwise I’ll be the Michelin man. Here, then, are the options.

The gym

Pros: It’s convenient(-ish). I can do an hour after work most days without buggering up my life too much.

Cons: See above. Plus I fucking hate it.


Pros: Nice scenery, less agonising than running/cross-training etc, less spiritually nihilistic.

Cons: Time-consuming. Requires serious timetable alteration and sacrifice to accommodate.


Pros: Like gym, fairly easy to fit into my timetable.

Cons: I loathe it. And I mean, really loathe it. Leaves me sweaty, dry-skinned and chlorinated. Plus you know you’ve effectively been wallowing in child’s piss (in British public pools, anyway). Just the thought makes me want to heave.


… by which I mean taking up something physical that’s also an entertainment. Dancing, for instance, which I used to be reasonably good at… and quite enjoyed.

Pros: Can be fun. Usually better with a partner or friend, though. Which is hard to arrange.

Cons: It’s difficult (and pricey) to do this sort of thing more than one night a week, which lowers its calorie-burning/exercise potential.

Conclusion: Haven’t reached one. The more I think about it, the longer I’m not doing anything – so it’s tempting to ponder longer.

Any suggestions?

24 Responses to “Fit for purpose?”

  1. Zeb Says:

    have you thought about trying allotment gardening ?? 😉

  2. Soilman Says:

    Now that’s a thought, Zeb…

  3. Carrie Says:

    Hahahaha, allotment gardening, good one.
    What about simple walks for half an hour each night. Doesn’t need to be a hike, doesn’t require a knapsack and boots. Just a simple walk out the front door and back again hal and hour later. It’ll get you started. xx

  4. Simon Says:

    I suggest rowing (the kind where you move boat, not the kind you do by shouting). If you row in a crew you get the benefit of blaming everyone else if the timing or balance is wrong. If you prefer to row on your own you get to concentrate on not falling in, which frees your mind from other concerns. In both cases the effort level can set as needed – if you row in a crew they need to be like-minded.
    I can suggest a good club near Frankfurt, but I guess that wouldn’t help.

  5. glittertrash Says:

    I am going to be incredibly predictable & suggest cycling, although I’m sure if it was feasible for you it’d already be on this list. But cycling is my winner because it’s got a point (I’m going somewhere!) which means that I’ll actually bother to do it. It’s also got a lot more inherent pleasure in it, as long as you’re not having to worry about disappearing under a truck, than walking/running in place on a machine in the gym. Might not be climatically plausible right now, but is there any way you could add a cycle anywhere into your routine once the snow melts a bit? Like halfway to work, chain bike, get on train? Or home -> allotment? I’m much better at doing exercise disguised as something else (transport) than at exercise for exercise’s sake.

  6. chzplz Says:

    I’m with glittertrash – the **only** thing that works for me on a sustainable basis is if I can integrate the exercise into my daily routine. I’ve had great success with cycling or walking to work, or part-way to work if the distance is far. If the exercise is added to my routine as something I have to do in the evenings, it’s the first thing that gets cut when I’m busy or tired.

  7. rainman Says:

    My vote is on walk + swim (and harden up, the piss problem is why they put so much chlorine in the pools). Plus, of course, and hardest of all – eat less and eat right. Doesn’t have to be rabbit food, but: No pies. Sweets only occasionally – they are treats, not regulars. Think twice about cheese. That sort of thing. Good food, less, and less often. Yes, life will still be worth living.

    But most of all, get off yer arse and do something, whatever it is. (I don’t mean to be rude here; I also need the same sort of motivation to exercise and eat right, even though my weight is not a major issue).

  8. Clare Says:

    Hmmmn, well, I’m not really the person to make suggestions as I share your deep aversion to exercise. We also need to get moving and have had some success with a DVD at home, but you need a fair bit of space. This is how we manage to limit the gut-wrenching awfulness of having to do any exercise at all. And, no-one that you don’t already know gets to see you wobble!

  9. Soilman Says:

    Thanks for thoughts thus far guys. I have flirted seriously with the cycling option, but Mrs Soilman has banned me – says I’ll get killed.

    And, to be honest, I AM frightened by cycling on UK urban roads. All the keen cyclists I know have had little accidents, and some have had big injuries. I’m too much of a wuss (translation for non-Brits: ‘feeble softie’).

    Simon, the rowing is a nice idea but I know I’ll never do it – too much out of the way and out of timetable etc (as many of you have noted, if you can’t incorporate it into your daily routine, it just doesn’t happen).

    The gym is, unfortunately, looking more and more like my best best. Pace rainman, swimming is just too ghastly.

  10. Jo Says:

    I hear exactly what you’re saying here. I loathe excercise too. I figure that raising my right arm in order to get the wine glass to my mouth is better than no excercise at all.

  11. Susan Says:

    You are the first guy I’ve suggested this too…Check out dvd’s from Leslie Sansone. She has walking videos. You do them right in your own home. I used them last year in the winter and had a noticeable slimming down, enough that I had to buy smaller pants. I’m using them again now. If you can handle it, there’s a great diet book called “The Engine 2 Diet” by Rip Esselstyn. We just made a veggie burger from his book called “The New York Times Veggie Burgers” and we didn’t die from them…yet. Kidding they were very good. I’m sure you can google everything for more info. Good luck!

  12. dee Says:

    Get yourself some wireless headphones turn the music up and bop around the house.I do it all the time to burn calories. Only my cat sees what a crap dancer I am. I also walk when I can. You would never see me in a gym,

  13. Eliane Says:

    Can you walk part or all of the way to work? Seems to me the good thing would be to incorporate exercise into something else you have to do anyway. If it’s any encouragement, I’ve just lost a few pounds without trying (I wasn’t trying, honest!) just by giving up the car and walking the kids to school and back – just under 4 miles a day walking, but not all at once.

    Also re: cycling – when we were in London my husband used to cycle to work using the cycle routes down side streets and along canals etc. There are maps. Don’t know if that’s better. I do understand about the dangers though – used to go round Old Street roundabout and over Blackfriars Bridge – never again!

  14. Soilman Says:

    Susan, Dee: I’m not proud or sexist, and I don’t mind looking a prat. So I’m taking your suggestions seriously!

    Eliane: Sadly, impossible to avoid main (and some VERY main) roads on my way to work. But you’re right; it’s often possible in London.

  15. Greenmantle Says:

    Shagging is supposedly good…But then if you struggle to get a partner for dancing…..

  16. Tanya Walton Says:

    Gardening is good but obviously you need decent weather for it. Buy yourself a wii and get wii fit…it’s great fun and you can do it at your leisure in your own lounge. Running is bad for you…cycling is better but walking is better still although yes it takes more time but a brisk 10 minute walk a day will soon show benefits. If you done want to go out..then jog up and down the stairs for 10 mins…that’s a real killer that works. I HATE GYMS…and would never go near one!! Dancing around at home is great fun…hey get karaoke to mad piss the neighbours off whilst you get fit!!

  17. Amy Says:

    I’m going to vote for dancing. Yes it might not be possible to do it frequently enough to remove the need for the gym but if you can get into it again you might feel motivated to get fit to improve your dancing rather than to just loose weight.

    I used to know lots of people who played squash and they all became obsessed with going to the gym just to improve their strength and stamina.

  18. Tracey Says:

    If your serious about losing weight and don’t want to exercise, try The Cambridge Diet more info here:

    A few people I know have done it and succeeded in losing the weight they wanted in a quick amount of time. Its not for every one and you’ll need determination but the results I’ve seen speak for themselves.

  19. Boltraffio Says:

    I used to hate physical exercise until I got two blocked shoulders and suffered constant pain for more than a year. My physiotherapist made me understand that my body needs exercise, as much as it needs food. Three times 30 minutes of cardio-vascular exercise a week is enough. And it doesn’t matter what you do. For the moment, I run 5 km on a machine, I cycle 30 minutes at home and I chop wood. Other possibility that crossed my mind: Nordic walking.
    P.S. I think you should see your GP before starting any exercise regime.

  20. Caz Says:

    Soilman it is very simple – less input, more output…
    no need for faddy diets or huge sweatiness.
    enjoy 🙂

  21. Sarah Says:

    We walk to the pub – ok so it’s only 120m but we can put an extra loop in on the way there – and it’s always longer on the way back…

  22. Mal Says:

    How about getting a dog, as they need to be walked twice a day – even when you don’t feel like it and the weather is horrible. Sometimes its nice to have one around and its good for security too. If you can’t face up to getting one yourself perhaps a relative could get one and the fob it off on you. Such things have happened…

  23. Mal Says:

    …and you could live up to your nickname too, Soilman

  24. Soilman Says:

    Collecting shit in a plastic bag at 6am, Mal? You must be kidding…