Ode to the Abused

MikeachimThe Everyday20 Comments

Walking along a beach, by WJ (Bill) Harrison (Flickr)

Hello, body.

You amaze me.

Let’s not bandy words. I’ve treated you badly.

There were the years my diet was dreadful and I never exercised. All that weight I piled on after school. You were young, you had all that energy, but even so, nothing could have taken that abuse for long. You suffered.

My dad piled the weight on round his middle, and kept it right to the end of his life. And when we worked together, we shared diets. I followed his lead.

No, that’s not fair. I was much worse.

Jars of Nutella with a spoon, in 10 minutes. Packet after packet of biscuits. Litres of full-fat Coke. Greasy pastries. Ton after ton of fat-drenched carbs. No clue about nutrition. No clue about exercise. I don’t want to think about your cholesterol level. I don’t want to think about your blood pressure. Or my first day of my walking holiday in Austria in 1993, that first agony-filled day when I hit my physical limits and they were absolutely nowhere near where I thought they were. (And I’m sorry I drowned those sorrows in chocolate. Hey. It all took time, OK?)

So I’m sorry for those years. I’m sorry your back still plays up. I’m amazed your stomach isn’t a mass of stretch marks. (Seriously, how did you recover from that?) But I’m sorry you have those stretch-marks under your arms where I cluelessly tried to weight-train the flab away. I was stupid. You bore the brunt.

But I’ve tried to make amends. I’m working hard – and listening hard, too.

You’ve been good to me beyond my wildest dreams. You’ve slimmed down when I’ve wanted you to, you’ve muscled up when I’ve needed it. You’re tough. I don’t deserve how tough you are. I’m walking 40 miles a week and you’re taking it in your stride (I made a little joke there – hope you appreciate it).

I deserve less.

But since I’m lucky enough to have you as you are right now, I intend to put you to good use.

Because, listen up: you’re a big part of my plans. With a certain level of physical toughness, I can travel like I plan to. I can cycle the whole of Sustrans Route 1, like I dearly long to. I can walk the Pennine Way and the Appalachian Trail. I can walk and walk and walk. (And I can do lots of other things too, which are frankly between you and me).

In some ways, you’re a funny old thing. Your big nose, and the way it bends off to one side. The gap between your front teeth. The way your eyes can go different directions at the same time. ┬áThe way your skin reddens and puckers at the least scratch from a cat. The way you’ve developed two small, darkly mottled patches over each cheekbone, like you’re permanently sporting black eyes. (The doc says it’s just this). You’re an odd bod. But I’ve grown to love having you around.

(Oh, and I forgive you for the hair-falling-out thing. I’m over that now. We’re good).

Despite all the crud I threw into you in my early twenties (if you’re a temple, I defiled you) – you’ve given me a second chance at having the life I want.

And no, I won’t blow it this time.

Thank you.


Inspired by Christine Garvin’s Ode To My Body.
Image: W J (Bill) Harrison.