It is possible that I am a victim of the 21st century physical aesthetic. Perhaps, I'm supposed to be above this sort of thing. But after nearly 26 years of existence I have to admit to myself that I have a problem: I am vain. Really, really vain. Not in terms of a preening, self-regard, but nevertheless featuring a constant and significant obsession with physical appearance.
I'm an ordinary-looking fella, slightly shorter than average, but re-assuringly taller than Tom Cruise (but not as tall as his wife). I'm reconciled with the height and looks thing. There's not a great deal you can do to change them. No, the things that obsess me, are the things I can change. These are, in order of how much I think about them; weight, hair and clothes. The latter is brilliant, because it's so easy to rectify (possibly the reason that clothes are at the top of the consumerism food chain). You can feel good about yourself purely by purchasing something and putting it together with other things (the tragedy is that you have to keep doing it, not just because of fashion but the good feeling about new stuff fades). The second one is trickier because of the maintenance requirement, as well as the possibility of dodgy haircuts.
The killer though is the first one. Now, achieving your ideal body is impossible without that most impossible of skills; self-discipline. You have two options, the first is curtailing your consumption of bad things, removing one of the main delights in being human - stuffing tasty food and booze down your neck. The second is regular exercise. The problem with regular exercise is that it's usually boring. It involves doing a repetitive task, on your own and takes up a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour every evening. Once you've made the decision to continue eating what the hell you like, you've basically committed yourself to another, entirely voluntary chore. Other chores are necessary. The kitchen must be cleaned or you lack crockery, unwashed clothes eventually start to smell. Fatness you can live with.
The consequences of evading this other chore is that initially you start to get soft around the edges, then bigger, then before you know it you're visiting slim-fast meetings. I'm at that sort of age, 25, where without the kind of metabolism my brother has (bastard) you can either commit to regular exercise, F-O-R-E-V-E-R, or acquiesce to expanding over the coming years and eventually being a fat bastard.
Now, the question is, why should I care? Thing is, I don't know why I should. I just do. Bodily aesthetic is something that pesters you 24-7. Jeans a little uncomfortable? Shit, should go for a run later. In bed at night, bit of belly, should renew that gym membership. And even though no-one around you notices, you can feel when things get slacker and when they get tighter. Every little change is multiplied double in your head. Things improve, suddenly it'll be six-pack central in a few weeks. Gets worse? Slippery slope to Johnny-Vegas-land.
One day I will get over this, and resign myself to the natural body shape for my lifestyle. Until then you shall see running up-and-down a Suffolk hill, getting depressed at how much fitter I used to be...