Ten reasons to be a secret exercise fanatic

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1. If you exercise in the morning, even if you only spend 30 seconds attempting to do five push-ups, you get to feel really smug that not only did you manage to get out of bed 30 seconds earlier than you absolutely had to, but you can assume most other people around you haven’t done this. Don’t talk to anyone about it though or it might turn out they are secret exercise junkies too and will pop your endorphin fuelled ego as effectively as scissors taken to a balloon.

2. Getting sweaty and being gross is sort of pleasurable in instances where you can legitimately acknowledge and enjoy the feeling. Going outside with greasy hair that hasn’t been washed for a week is frowned upon, whereas untying a post-jog sweat-soaked ponytail to find the hairstyle stays up all of it’s own accord is a badge of honour!

3. Wearing comfortable clothes. If I were to go to the shops in a scrotty t-shirt covered in paint from three house moves ago and in muddy sweatpants with a hole in the knee I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the face, but going out in this super comfortable, if wholly unattractive, gear is positively encouraged if you are exercising.

4. You can surprise people. You can be sat in the bar after book club, tucking into your third pint, and casually come out with ‘I’m a runner’ and then sit back and enjoy watching people try to disguise their slightly offensive surprise face (only works if you don’t have the average physique of an athlete).

5. Being a secret exercise fanatic is a bit like being a member of an exclusive cult (you know, not the kind where they let anyone with a fetish for duck themed hat wear in but the fancy kind you’re not really sure if it actually exists or not). When you come across another closet workout enthusiast and discover each other’s secret you will share a bond for life, which will only be ruined if you actually discuss mutual physical activity and discover one of you is far superior to the other. Better to just find out you both like exercise and occasionally throw out a quick ‘go for a run today?’ and give each other a sly nod in passing.

secret exercise nod - bp image6. Running isn’t easy, there are times when I huff and puff and wish the world would end after less than 30 seconds of actual movement, but it does get a bit better over time. It is satisfying to know that the me of today could run rings round the me of six months ago. Although actually that might still make today me pretty dizzy, but I could beat six-months ago me in a race. Probably.

7. No pain no gain. I wouldn’t advocate properly overdoing it and crippling yourself for the next week or so but there is something rather pleasant about being able to feel a gentle ache across muscles irregularly used the day after exercising.

8. Some people will try to tell you exercise is good for your health, will make you lose weight, live longer blah-de-blah, but this is all irrelevant nonsense to the simple truth that exercise only exists to remove junk-food fuelled guilt! I like to think of exercise as balancing out those terrible unhealthy life choices I stubbornly plan to give up (I’m sorry but chocolate just tastes too good!). Think of half an hour’s run as carte blanche to eat an entire family sized bag of crisps and/or a tub of ben and jerry’s ice cream and ignore anyone who tries to tell you otherwise

9. Novel ways to hurt yourself. If you are a bit of a clutz like me, you will often find yourself covered in bruises or with twisted limbs for no particular reason, this is both painful and quite frustrating. But if, whilst running, you twist an ankle tripping over a tree root, fall over trying to dodge a dog or scalp your knees careering into the tarmac of a busy  carriageway you will most likely remember the cause of your injury much more vividly. It will also be a lot easier to simply explain ‘I hurt myself exercising’ than bringing up any of the more embarrassing details.

10. If you are good at one particular exercise you can feel superior to anyone else that isn’t as good as you at that particular thing. I joined the rowing club at university and was taught how to use rowing machines properly. Every single time I go to the gym I check out other people’s rowing form and if they don’t know how to do it properly I feel infinitely superior. This feeling of superiority remains undaunted even if said individual is simultaneously half the size of me and yet capable of lifting weights twice the size of me. Whatever. I can still row better than they can.

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Ten reasons to hate the sunshine

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1. Mosquitoes

Little flying biting bastards that love the taste of my sweet sweet blood. On the plus side if you take me with you on nice days out in the sunshine I will act as a mosquito magnet and draw them away from everyone else. You’re welcome.

2. Too much flesh

I get it, it’s hot, you want to feel the pleasure of the sun on your bare skin but could you possibly save this for the privacy of your own garden or confine yourself to a beach area where others can at least prepare themselves for this? What I don’t really want is to encounter masses of exposed flab, lobstering itself up to perfection, when I’ve just popped out to buy a bit of milk.

3. Skimpy outfits

It’s too hot to wear your normal wardrobe staples, but the heat always comes when you aren’t expecting it. You might have been meaning to buy a decent pair of shorts for years, as opposed to those ridiculously skimpy cut-offs you made out of an old pair of jeans ten years ago, but you are caught out and have no choice but to parade yourself in your silly outfit and open yourself up to the ridicule of others. By the time you are geared up for a summer shopping trip the heatwave is usually over.

4. Dieting/not-dieting

By the time you want to put on your skimpy summer clothes and bare that flesh you’ve realised that those ice creams that go hand-in-hand with the hot weather really aren’t doing you any favours. It’s also this time you realise that your plan to slim down for summer might be a bit behind schedule. You plan to eat salads to remedy the problem but end up filling up on tortilla chips and hot dogs at BBQs instead.

5. Sweat

Perhaps you did manage to buy some nice summer clothing, maybe you even managed to slim down so that your figure is nicely displayed in a little summer dress, but you haven’t factored on sweat. The make-up you apply before leaving the house usually melts off your face before you can make it to the bus stop and the carefully blow-dried hair has gone from swish-quiff to sweat-drenched-flop in less time than it takes to say ‘I should have worn a hat’.

6. Eczema

Just in case I didn’t look pretty enough with little mozzie bites covering all parts of exposed flesh my eczema likes to join in the skintastic party and happily applies itself to all bodily joints. This is very convenient as it is easy to hide if I curl up in a foetal position. It is less convenient if I try to do anything silly…like…moving.

melting chocolate - bp image7. Chocolate loses it’s magical powers

Normally chocolate provides the solution to everything, it can pick you up when you are flagging at work, it can cheer you up after a bad day and it can even help you bond with intimidating workmates. But in the summer chocolate doesn’t get to melt in your mouth because it has normally melted all over your hands, work, home and cat long before this.

8. Working

Having to work when the weather is nice should be criminal. You want to join the other sun seekers and parade around in tiny shorts and crop tops like everyone else but instead you are forced to put on grown up clothes and look longingly out of the office window from Monday to Friday, knowing full well there is a good chance the nice weather will have buggered off come the weekend.

9. Sunburn

We all like to amuse ourselves sniggering at foolish tourists caught out in the sun and happily wandering around seemingly oblivious to the fact they have turned a beautiful shade of race-car red. Some of us are pretty good at applying suntan lotion but might miss a spot or forget to reapply after a couple of hours and are unfairly punished with burnt tomato skin. And then laughed at by others. This just isn’t fair.

10. Judgement for drinking tea

Tea maintains its potency as remedy for all the world’s ills and general pick-me-up even in the heat but when the sun is blazing you are forced to respond to so many comments about why you are drinking tea on a hot day it’s enough to make you want to hurl your cup of boiling water at these naysayers as you try to convince people that tea is still bloody amazing, whatever the weather!

Ten reasons to love weddings

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1. The groom’s expression when he first spots his bride. I haven’t been disappointed with any of these yet. So grooms if you think no-one is watching you when the bride marches in then think again! On the plus side if your tongue hangs out, you make an eyes wide and circular mouthed ‘ooo’ response or just produce the sappiest grin you never knew you could make, those of us watching you will think it’s rather endearing. If you roll your eyes at your bride’s firework tiara or zombie make-up then maybe rethink whether or not this is the woman for you before you commit yourself with the vows.

2. Everyone is so happy. Or at least at the weddings I’ve been at. I’ve yet to attend one where the bride’s divorced mother and father try to set each other alight with romantic candles or the best man punches the second usher who happens to be the brides brother-in-law after some inappropriate remark, but I’m sure these things must happen.

3. That moment of suspense when the vicar or registrar or whoever asks whether anyone has any objections. Although I know this is unlikely and recognize it really would spoil the wedding I can’t help but eagerly squirm around in my chair to see if anyone is feeling objectionable or hope that the groom’s pre-existing but previously unknown wife comes bursting through the door or something.

4. The wedding dress. I’m sure some brides wear terrible outfits for their own wedding, but on the whole the bride tends to look the loveliest you have ever seen her before. Truly worthy of the ‘ooo’ face the groom is making at the other end of the aisle.

5. Wedding outfits of everyone else. Generally men all look rather dapper in a suit but there is a whole range of options for female guests, members of the bridal party etc that are a feast for the eyes and a source of much amusement as you bravely voice loud approval of the bride’s mums outfit or silently whisper to a friend your condemnation of something another guest is wearing.

6. The ceremony. I like every part of this, I like thinking about why the couple have chosen the readings they have and why certain people have been asked to say certain things. I like hearing the vows and noting the way the couple support each other as they do this. I like heartily agreeing, with the rest of the guests, that we’ll help support the newlyweds in their marriage and really meaning this. I like feeling the love.

7. The free food and drink. Given my passion for eating and drinking you’d think me remiss if I failed to put this in my top ten. Obviously it’s not the best thing about a wedding (if it is that doesn’t say a whole lot about the special day) and I’d still want to go even if I had to pay for all my own beverages and refreshment but I like the drinks on the arrival, the wine at the table and a nice meal shared with happy people whom you may or may not know.

8. The singing. Not always a component of every wedding, tends not to feature so much in civil ceremonies but I do love the opportunity to belt out a song in unison with others, which I tend to otherwise only get the opportunity once a year with Christmas Carols. So long as everyone is singing loudly it really doesn’t matter if you can’t actually sing or not, it’s just fun to all do it together.

9. The dancing. The little ones running around in circles or playing hide and seek behind their mums, the dads breaking out the dance moves, the increasingly drunk guests bouncing around and pretending drunken stumbles were part of the moves they were trying to pull off.

10. Speeches. These are best enjoyed if I’m not giving them. Even if speeches are awful it’s fun to dissect them afterwards and talk about just how awful they were. The Best Man definitely has the hardest job in trying to be amusing without upsetting anyone, remembering to acknowledge the bride and resisting the urge to go too much into a bromance ode of love to the groom, a bit of emotion is nice, wailing throughout the duration so that no-one can hear what you are saying isn’t fun for anyone. Tough gig.

 

Ten reasons you aren’t as civilised as you pretend

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1. In company you will carefully scrape off the yoghurt stuck to the lid with a spoon, at home you’ll just lick it off.

2. You tell people you joined a martial arts class because you like to try interesting things and wanted to meet new people, but really you just like having an excuse to hit other people without getting in trouble.

3. You pretend you watch Eurovision because you are an ironic spectator of a regional mass-entertainment event, actually you just love the cheesy tunes, over the top outfits and ridiculous antics of the competitors.

4. You get ridiculously excited about free stuff, you have no qualms about accepting giveaways, you gleefully take free pencils and paper rulers from IKEA and you shamelessly eat other people’s leftovers (when offered to you, you wouldn’t go as far as steal people’s lunches from the fridge or raid their trash or anything).

5. When someone takes two of the four sandwich squares you’d carefully saved for lunch, from an event you worked at until 9pm the day before, and you then discover that of the two remaining sandwiches one has a big dead fly in it, rather than expressing disgust at the dead insect and throwing the offending article away, you express disgust and then quietly flick the fly away, along with the piece of aubergine it had met its demise on, and then continue to eat both sandwiches. You may tell yourself you’d have been pickier if your lunch hadn’t already been halved for you by some unscrupulous sandwich thief, but you doubt it.

6. You would never dream of leaving your apartment in jogging bottoms (unless actually exercising) but would happily spend an entire day inside the flat in the same pyjamas you sleep in.

7. You really can’t tell the difference between Champagne, Prosecco, Cava or any other variety of sparling wine. If it’s alcoholic with bubbles, then you are happily going to drink it.

8. You can only tell the difference between a fake and a genuine Louis Vuitton bag by location. You assume if someone is sporting an LV bag in Geneva it’s genuine, in Greenwich it’s fake.

9. You would never dream of expressing obscenities directed at a stranger in face to face scenarios, but from the safety of a car (or a bike helmet with visor), when no one can hear to judge, you will unfailingly shout all sorts of rude words at the twat who just cut you up.

10. You wouldn’t belch or bottom-parp in a meeting but yet have no trepidations in letting rip in front of your fiancé or friends and then giggling like a child afterwards whilst trying to blame the outburst on the cat.

Ten reasons to watch Eurovision

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For those of you souls unlucky enough to not know what Eurovision is, it’s an annual event where European nations, more or less, commit to send some people who have at least a vague understanding of what a tambourine is to put themselves forward as the musical representatives for their country, other countries then vote for their friends or whichever act they find the most amusing and a Eurovision champion is born…

1. It’s great for geography, not only will you get to learn the names of all the European capitals you’ll also discover lesser known facts, like Australia is in fact in Europe (well they are performing in a contest for European countries so it must be true).

2. It’s a great way to learn about international (well European+) political affairs. You’ll learn which countries are afraid of retribution if they don’t vote for another nation (just you watch all those former soviet-bloc countries break away from old alliances…), which countries like each other (close neighbours, like the Scandinavians, often stick together) and who the least popular countries in Europe are (UK is definitely up there in the ‘other-European-nations-really-don’t-like-you’ stakes).

3. Unlike some more acoustically sophisticated types of music you don’t need to have any musical skills, appreciation or understanding to enjoy (or even represent your country at) Eurovision, in fact the more tone-deaf you are the more you will probably like this.

4. If you are an alcoholic it’s a judgement free way to enjoy your favourite beverage, no-one in their right minds would ever expect you to watch Eurovision sober!

5. As Avenue Q so famously put it ‘everyone’s a little bit racist’…indulge your inner xenophobia in an annually encouraged event by ridiculing, mocking and then bemoaning the intolerable success of that nation you just love to hate (come on you Swiss and English, let’s not pretend we aren’t eager to see France in an epic fail).

6. If you love ridiculously bad poppy music you can scream enthusiastically at this terrible genre without anyone suspecting you aren’t being ironic and that you actually like the music.

7. You can learn the art of maintaining the perfect composure appropriate to the kind of social occasion where they can only be one winner (Oscar nominees take note) by noting the behaviour of the acts that continuously receive ‘nil points’ from every other nation. Note how that happy gleaming grin distracts you from the fact they are now dead behind the eyes.

8. If you don’t actually have any friends, family or interests and wonder what to do with yourself at evenings or weekends, you can kill not just one entire evening watching hours and hours of this seemingly never-ending competition but they even have semi-finals and often competitions to select a country’s acts too. That could account for at least four out of 365 evenings in the year.

9. You can learn about European+ regional economics. Note how some countries deliberately field an atrocious act (but in the ‘wholly-bad’, think Kate Bush, not ‘so-bad-it’s-good’, think Spice Girls, way) to avoid winning the competition and being rewarded with the financially black-hole-inducing prize of having to host the competition next year (Greece’s entry, or Ireland entering Jedward yet again, should give you an idea of what I mean).

10. It’s an annual excuse to get together and throw a little party, bring people together, throw in a little babycham and a peanut or two and use your human guests as a shield to hide the shameful fact that, secretly, you really love this yearly event, even though you know you shouldn’t. Tears of emotion flowing down your face as you are moved by a man continually spinning in a giant hamster wheel can easily be disguised as tears of laugher.

Ten reasons to be impulsive

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1. Thinking things through gets in the way of actually doing stuff, avoid the problem and skip the thinking part!

2. The sooner you impulsively commit to something the more likely you are to follow your instincts and go through with this. For example you could think I’d like to travel more so randomly apply to an internship in Cambodia and then when the email offer comes through immediately respond that you are in and tell everyone. Its so much harder to back out when you force others to become collaborators of your impulsive ways!

3. You can be impulsive in some areas of life but still remain resolutely steadfast in others. I like to be impulsive about the small things such as committing to take up a new sport by buying all the equipment before even trying the game, which career to pursue or whether to move country. However, I remain wholly restrained when it comes to more serious things like deciding not to go out for a spontaneous afterwork drink when I’ve been looking forward to an evening of some sort of Netflix fix and binge eating with the cats for company and judgment.

4. Being impulsive makes for much more interesting and also more succinct story telling process. Guess which is the impulsive version from below?

  • ‘I applied for a job in Switzerland without thinking about it, was offered the job and then decided to move’
  • ‘I carefully considered whether or not to apply for a job in Switzerland, I weighed up all the pros and cons and sensibly thought through all potential ramifications of undertaking such a step, eventually I concluded that such a notion was ridiculously ill-thought out and I therefore decided to stay here in a predictable job I ceased to enjoy some time ago.’

5. Being impulsive gives you an air of mystery, where people are never too sure what you are going to commit to next. Maybe you’ll simply buy a life-size elephant soap dispenser on your next Ikea trip, maybe you’ll have moved to Timbuktu before you got round to telling anyone, maybe you’ll do nothing impulsive for long enough people will think you’ve got over these crazy tendencies then BANG! You can surprise them with the next adventure!

6. Impulsive behaviour is just another way of following your gut-instincts. These aren’t the instincts your gut has to avoid cheese wrapped around butter encased in clotted cream but that inner feeling within you that tells you if a particular course of action is right or wrong. All too often we suppress our gut instinct and agree to things like attending a seminar on how to optimise seminar attendance when we really should have listened to that inner voice telling us we don’t want to do that.

7. Being impulsive is a characteristic often associated with children, this doesn’t mean it’s bad for adults but means it will help you access your inner, and frankly much more fun, child. It means you can enjoy running through the rain, cartwheeling across the park/in the office and climbing trees without worrying about getting wet, making a fool out of yourself or how you’ll get down again.

8. Being impulsive means you can face your fears and learn to overcome these. I was pretty terrified of teenagers, particularly en masse, so when I saw a volunteering opportunity (whilst studying part-time and working full-time) to work with groups of 16 and 17 year olds in the spare time I really didn’t have I signed up without thinking it through AT ALL. Having impusively committed myself to something where others were relying on me, I was compelled to continue and actually quite enjoyed the experience, learning that young adults aren’t nearly so terrifying as I had initially expected!

9. Whilst being impulsive may occasionally get you into some foolhardy situations, the stories that occur as a result are usually worth any traumatic experiences at the time. For example an impulsive desire might lead to your clambouring on top of the fridge (so you can stare down at others) and then realising that the washing machine you used as a staging pad has since been turned on (and is now whirring so much it’s truly terrifying) that now you can’t get down without some serious help you desperately need but are really reluctant to accept. Traumatic? Yes. But probably worth it for the stories you can later share with friends of how great it was to be able to stare down at that mean cat you don’t like and leave them guessing abut how you got to be so high up (this may have been an example of my cat’s behaviour rather than mine).

10. Impulsive behaviour led me to writing this blog, I bought a domain name before I knew if or what I was going to write and then before I knew it I was happily blogging away like a trooper and connecting with all sorts of cool other bloggers.

Ten reasons to vote

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1. You only get a chance to vote in the national elections every few years so might as well as not. Imagine if something amazing happened at your local polling station, like one of the counting officers did magic tricks and you weren’t there to see. You’d feel like a right chump!

2. It’s a chance to vote out/vote in again* the government you loathe/love* (*delete as appropriate). If you don’t vote then you can’t later whinge with legitimacy about how the government you voted in have let you down or how everything would be champagne and roses if the other lot, that you voted for but didn’t get in, had won.

3. You won’t be able to keep up with workplace banter round the kettle about who’s waltzing into the lead or tripping the light fantastic if you don’t plan to vote. It’d be like trying to keep up with Strictly Come Dancing conversations when you don’t know any of the finalists, except everyone will be paying attention to this political dance show.

4. Even if you think everyone standing is a right bunch of numpties (and everyone knows only egotistical lunatics want to be in politics) and you’d rather be ‘governed’ by a wet tea towel, which at least used to have a purpose in life, it’s better to go and deliberately spoil your vote (scratch through all names and write none of the above) than just not bother. Better to be counted as a pissed off voter than apathetic unengaged person who doesn’t care one way or the other.

5. If you can’t be bothered and don’t vote then you run the risk of those militant crazy types full of misplaced political fervour and zeal voting for the random ‘everyone must wear purple every other day’ parties and before you know it you are having to buy a whole new violet wardrobe and trying to remember if it’s a purple day or not.

6. Apparently there are some areas where who you vote for makes a difference. I’m not 100% sure how this works, having always lived I’m safe seats, but I think there’s a chance that your vote might actually change the party representing you, which must make the whole thing much more exciting.

7. If you live somewhere where it’s pretty much a given who will be your next politician it’s still good to vote to either let that politician know how much everyone likes them or to let one of the little guys (with snowball’s chance in hell kind of odds of winning) feel like someone liked them. It’s like taking the time to cheer for a support band at a concert when no-one else is paying attention them just waiting for the main act. Giving someone a bit of validation is a nice thing to do. 

8. It is possible that some politicians actually do care more about the possible people they will represent than the thought of wielding metaphorical swords of power, so it doesn’t hurt to skim the literature they send through (or whatever the modern day online equivalent is) and pick your champion.

9. It’s good to remember that there was a time when all women and most men couldn’t vote and that actually people worked pretty hard to change that, some of them even died (Emily Davison threw herself under the King’s horse to raise awareness of the fact women in the UK couldn’t vote; and, to make men feel less threatened by the prospect of women voters, she even took herself off the prospective voters list). These people would probably be pretty peeved if the right to vote they worked so hard for, no-one actually bothers to use.

10. The topic of politics might sound dull but who governs the country isn’ t just about old men droning on and on for hours on a dedicated channel no-one wants to watch. I mean that does happen but the things they drone on about impacts a lot of other things, like the kind of education your kids get, whether or not your streetlights stay on, if you have to pay for healthcare or not, whether wearing purple can ever be made mandatory and so on.