Hannah MacMillan

Sooooo… How’s it going? You know… that New Year’s Resolution about the gym membership? Oh, going well? You go twice a week? You go! Me? Oh yeah… Nah. Not really for me. Just too much pressure with work, then everything after that, y’know? There’s just not enough time in the day.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a wonderful set of sentences I repeat daily during the first few of months of the ‘Fresh Start New Year’. Somehow, I always find myself on the gym membership bandwagon, no matter how much I acknowledge that the chances of me stepping foot into such an establishment are as likely as me leaving the pub at a reasonable hour.

I’ve never really got the ‘gym bug’. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a fitness loyalist that dedicates your life to the cause, you go for it (you look fantastic doing it, by the way) but I just can’t see myself finding a thrill in adding an extra set of squats in my routine. Well, that and sweat stained leather seats, obnoxiously loud music and… men. Another three reasons why a gym membership has never felt particularly appealing.

I did at one point look into getting a personal trainer. A lot of people around me had given it a shot, telling me they felt a responsibility to not let their trainer down by cancelling on them. Ah yes, just what I was looking for, I would think, the gnawing guilt of disappointment pressuring me to get out there and work for my summer bod. Perfect. On the other hand, a man of fitness shouting at me because I don’t know my biceps from my triceps doesn’t feel particularly comforting either. Or worse, the thought of an incredibly toned and attractive woman who clearly has her life together patting my sweaty, bony shoulder whilst reassuring me that seven push-ups can make anyone breathless is just… embarrassing. Not for me, I think.

It’s not that I’m unfit. I walk my dog five times a day. I don’t have a shred of fat on me (that is not a boast – try convincing strangers that you’re 28 with the figure of a 12-year-old boy.) And I eat healthily too. Not every day, but often enough.

I used to be really sporty, and I loved it. I don’t think there’s a particular genre of sport that I haven’t tried. Swimming, ballet, horse riding, tennis, badminton, athletics, football, karate. I would beg my parents to let me have a go at the next big idea of mine, and nine times out of ten they would let me. My mum is still convinced that I only agreed to go to ballet because of the tuck shop. I was six, Mum, of course I went for the tuck shop! Badminton stuck the most. Both of my brothers played too, with one of them still playing competitively now.

To be honest, I probably tried the majority of previously listed sports because of my brothers. If they were doing something, I always wanted to be involved too. I can’t say either of my brothers were always thrilled by this. Being siblings, the ideal thought process was that we would be some sort of perfect double act, the team to be beaten. However, in training, the reality couldn’t have been more opposite. With both of us being unspoken perfectionists and fiercely competitive, communication wasn’t our strongest point. Unless it was blaming each other for missing a shot, losing a point, or arguing constantly on the way home.

Regardless of past endeavours, I must admit my health still sits on the back burner at the best of times. Nothing has ever really stuck with me since I moved out of the family home. I tried yoga, which I enjoyed for a while, until I didn’t have Wi-Fi for two weeks and no-one to tell me when to breathe in and out. I tried to get back into badminton, until I was mansplained to about my foot positioning and movements. So, I smashed the shuttle into said mansplainer’s ‘drop shot’ to shut him up. I tried bouldering, which I did really enjoy, but the chalk got everywhere, and your hands blister so bad you can barely hold the lovely pint you have after the session. Which is a complete waste of climbing plastic rocks if you ask me.

I suppose being healthy doesn’t mean you have to partake in a sporty hobby. Yes, some sort of active hobby is probably the first thing to pop into the majority’s heads, but with modern medicine, health covers far more than sport. Keeping your body fit is just one of the many aspects to what would be considered a healthy lifestyle. Environment, routine, mental wellbeing, they all contribute to our health, and each are equally important. You don’t have to get up at 5am each morning and go running just because the social media influencer you fancy said it’s the best way to start the day!

Have you had a lazy morning coffee in bed before? Absolute magic. I don’t believe anyone drinks protein shakes willingly. I have never consumed anything that has tasted like it’s faking healthy before, but those shakes? I do not recommend. You don’t have to cut out everything you enjoy. Yes, self-control in certain amounts isn’t a negative trait, but cutting out things that give you joy and replacing them with things that give you the mirage of what happiness should be? How can that be beneficial in any way?

Just do ‘you’. Surround yourself with your loved ones and throw yourself into the things you enjoy. You don’t know what that is? Go out and find it! Try new things, meet new people. Challenge yourself to one act of kindness a day and trust me, the smile you receive from that act will give you more happiness than any diet ever will. Health is happiness, I know that for sure.