I am unfit.  Hideously so, in fact.  Yesterday I tried my 10 minute workout DVD for the first time, and at minute 3:36 exactly I was forced to throw myself on the pause button , due to an intense inability to breathe and a feeling of imminent head explosion.  I also quickly checked that I wasn’t having a vicious heart attack.   I knocked back about half a litre of water to prevent myself from passing out, and resumed my workout until minute 8:24, at which point my body called it quits, and then congratulated myself on having ‘worked out’ – or at least on having tried to.  I’m practically a New Yorker now you know, so I must embrace obsessive fitness.

Later on the phone I told my boyfriend about this.  He just wasn’t getting it.  ‘But you must have felt good, … right?’ (obviously, he is American).  No, I didn’t feel good, just exhausted.  And slightly mortified.  And in agony from my 10 minute brush with exercise.  I realise in hindsight that I did all the kicks with my right leg, instead of alternating right and left, which explains the intense shooting pains all down my right side.   Last night I spasmed upright in bed after a particularly bad dream, and unconsciously did a more than passable imitation of Alison in ‘Medium’, post-stroke.

I like to think of myself as a relatively active person (‘like’ probably being the operative word in this sentence).  However, what I learned yesterday is that workout videos have a very different idea of beginner level than I do.  Much like the time I joined the Equinox near my work in the Meatpacking fired up with a New Year enthusiasm to get fit (January 2008, it’s always January isn’t it…).  I signed up with a (very beefy) personal trainer who also had a very different idea of beginner than I had – after my first session I literally could not walk, bend over or pick up ANYTHING.  For about a week.

I cheered myself up by reminding myself that I am a very good walker.   I believe I have successfully developed a very specific (and obviously very small) muscle group – the walking muscles.  I am very good at going forward, and almost as good at going backwards, in a straight line, of course.  Make me kick sideways, or lunge in any direction, and I’m a goner.  Not to be deterred however, I’m getting right back on the horse this morning.  Let’s see if I make it to 4 minutes before I have to hit the remote.

I am thirty-one.  I am 31.  I need to write it a few times, and numerically too, to force myself to come to terms with the fact that I am no longer twenty-nine, as I keep telling people who ask my age; nor have I been for some time.  Unfortunately for me, my brain still refuses to accept the harsh reality that I am now THIRTY ONE.

It’s strange that I am having this acceptance problem with my age now, having coasted through the big 3 0, unlike some of my friends, who were rather dreading the event.   How I laughed.  I scoffed and teased – age is only a number, I said., what are you afraid of?   You’re as young as you feel, I said.  Turning thirty was no milestone for me, rather I applauded myself on milestones achieved, a rising career, great friends, etc.  So it is with huge surprise (and some mortification) that I find myself suddenly fearing the passing of time, and my inevitable ageing.

Maybe it is now that I am officially ‘in my thirties’ and no longer ‘just turned thirty’.  I now tick boxes that say ’31 – 35’, and, to be honest, I never even noticed those boxes existed as I happily ticked the ’25 – 30’ section.  Recently I did a survey that didn’t even HAVE an ‘over 30′ box, so having spent the best part of an hour filling in all my vital stats, in the vain hope of winning my very own Louis Vuitton tote bag (which I didn’t even particularly like,  it was mainly the cachet), I realized that, according to the competition website, I was TOO OLD to own it!!  In most countries I would think thirty-one would be a perfect age to prance around town with a monogrammed accessory… with the exception of South Korea, where it would seem that you need to own a LV by the age of eleven at the latest.

So at whose feet can I lay the blame for this strange new fear of  age, or ageing?  Certainly not at my mother’s, who has been preparing me for my dotage for at least the past decade.   I have caught her on numerous occasions telling people about her daughter who works in fashion – no, not the young one in Ireland, but the one in her thirties (this when I’m twenty five).   I have stood by, smiling grimly, listening to yet another tale of someone I knew in school who just got married… ‘no, really’, my mother insists, ‘you DO know her… no, REALLY,  the two of you were in the same year,… of COURSE you were… oh wait, no… what age are you again?? Oh no, she must be a year or two older than you so, she just turned thirty-six.’

Thanks, mum.

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