My leisure time has never willingly been spent in a gym or running.
My family will tell you that I rarely sit still – except perhaps when I’m writing. I love to be on the go, so I’m certainly not sedentary – but Sport Billy I ain’t.
Sport for me was tinged with the shame and fear of enforced participation in a Yorkshire Comprehensive School in the 1970s. The puppy fat wobbling, freezing thighs, horror of the cross-country run and being chosen last for the netball team, live long in the memory.
I remember so well being stuck in goal at hockey where I think it was felt I could do the least harm. During a cricket match I was placed on the outer reaches of the solar system to field – I don’t think anyone would have noticed if I’d gone home.
Wind forward a few decades and my teenage chubbiness has been replaced – after a shining interlude of slimness and size 10 clothes – with post- pregnancy ‘cuddliness’.
Several valiant souls tried to help me shed the unwanted pounds. I even joined a slimming group. The latter didn’t really work as I found myself celebrating the loss of a pound or two with a sneaky bar of chocolate. I was also a little bored and bemused by the excitement a new variety of rye bread seemed to create.
Joining a gym was a non-starter as well, because I viewed every piece of equipment with hostility and suspicion. I soon found I was skilled at falling off things or inadvertently trapping myself in part of the mechanism of anything that moved.
So, by 2012 I was more than 12 stone – I’m five foot tall - with a distinctive waddle to my walk and an arthritic hip that kept me up at night, or dozing on the sofa.
Something had to give – and it wasn’t the waistband in my elasticated trousers.
I can’t remember the exact moment something flipped in my head, but I do remember watching Team GB’s Olympic cycling team with awe and then remembering I had actually bought a static exercise bike a couple of years before.
Was this the answer? Something I could do in my own home, without the need for any specialist lycra based clothing? No need to make a special trip or brave the changing rooms?
Positioned in front of the telly I peddled – creakily at first – but within a week I was doing 5k every day and increasing my speed.
Eating less and sensibly seemed a natural next step – and at no point did I weigh any food or buy any specialist slimming stuff.
Within a year I reached 8st 7lbs – I have now settled at just under 9 stone for the last four years.
I don’t cycle all the time, but I know I have found my way to exercise when I want to – even in my slippers.