I know and work with a lot of very fit people. Even in Qatar, the land made famous for its Doha Dozen, loads of people are bound and determined to make fitness a priority and a lifestyle.
Every single last one of them has admitted at some point that there are days that are harder than others to commit to their health. Every one has had days where they struggle to keep the motivation going. They all say a tough day here and there is normal.
Unfortunately for me, it seems like every moment of every day is a push and pull of emotions when it comes to fitness. Each day brings with it a continuous flow of bipolarity that has me simultaneously loving and hating my newfound commitment to fitness and health. I've included below for your reading entertainment a typical day in my Doha Fitness Journal, with its glorious multitude of manic and depressive epiphanies ... Enjoy!
4:00 a.m. the Bell Tower tone chimes on my i-phone ... I coax one eyelid open.
''This is just wrong. It's not even the crack of the crack of dawn.''
I swipe the 9-minute snooze option. At minute 8, I fall back into the deepest sleep of the night.
Ding, dong, ding, dong, ding dong, ding, dong ... Drat that alarm.
Pull myself begrudgingly to a sitting position as Smilin' Vic grunts and pushes off the covers ''I'm awake, yup, yup, ...''.
A muffled call to prayer sounds through the closed bedroom window, making itself heard over the droning of the a/c.
Smilin' Vic and I narrowly avoid colliding as we stumble past each other at the foot of the bed. Fumble through my drawers in the darkness. '
'Why the heck didn't I lay out my sweats and runners last night like I'd promised myself?''
Strap on 1kg wrist weights and program the Runmeter app to 'Al Waab 6.2 km route'. Guzzle down 16 oz of water and fill up my CamelBak. Mentally motivate myself for the walk ahead.
''Yes! I'm awesome. 4:20 a.m. and ready to roll. Come on big wide fitness world, let's start the daily Doha fitness journey!''
Step out the door. Instantaneously drenched in a bath of humidity. My glasses steam up. My toenails start to sweat.
Smilin' Vic's in fine form this particular morning: ''Wanna run this morning, Babe?''
I try to muster a smile ... something in my sleep-deprived eyes scares him.
'Or we could just walk at a brisk pace?''
0.2 km in. Droplets of sweat cling to my eyelashes.
''I must be mad.''
We achieve a decent pace, my short little legs struggling to keep pace with Smilin' Vic's long ones. I finally find my groove. Endorphins rapidly kick in. A huge wave of positivity follows.
''I am sooooo amazing! If you don't work for it, don't bother wishing for it, Gypsy. No pain, no gain. I'm a fitness queen!''
Lost in my newfound awesomeness, I narrowly avoid the sinkhole that has appeared overnight on the sidewalk just outside our compound. Twist my foot on a rock as I sidestep the diversion and hear the ''whoosh'' of a mini-van race by us at 100km an hour down the city street.
''Seriously? Why do I put myself through this? It's like Death Race 2000.''
3 km into our walk. The proper English voice on the Runmeter app mechanically informs us that we're 36 seconds ahead of best pace. Exercise euphoria is back.
''Wooohooooooo! I rock. Bring it on!''
750 m from home. A speeding car lays on the horn as he approaches from behind, likely for the simple thrill of watching us jump out of our runners.
A stupid fly has been continuously taking nose-dives at my head for the last kilometre. I try to swipe the quarter-inch nuisance away, hands batting futilely at thin air, waving madly around my head as the buzzing reverberates in the sweat in my ears. I swat without success; the annoyance drones on ceaselessly.
''Arghhhhhhh! I hate this.''
Make it back home; somehow we've managed to fall back on our pace; 16 seconds behind median. That's ok. I blame it on the annoying fly.
Check my watch. It's 5:25 a.m. and we've clocked 6km, burned 300 cal and lost 2kg of sweat.
''Yes! I'm invincible!''
I savour the chill of the a/c. Throw beets, carrots, oranges, lime into the juicer. Fill up on water. Smilin' Vic gets the coffee going. I head up for a shower. Great start to the day.
''No taking the lift for me today. Only stairs. I am fitness personified!''
Try to ease my way into Doha traffic. Get locked into a 45-minute jam, no one coming, no one going, no one moving. Arrive at work 5 minutes late. End up parking on the 7th storey of the parking garage.
''I could clock a lot of steps if I took the stairs. But the ride up made me slightly dizzy. It might not be safe to take the stairs with vertigo.''
''Stop making excuses! Ok, I'll take the stairs.''
''Wait, no time; I'm already late. I'll take the lift down; I can walk up on the way out tonight.''
''I suck. Excuses, excuses. I really need to smarten up. I'll take the stairs to our 9:00 a.m. meeting.''
I stand firm on my promise to myself. I take the three flights of steps down to the meeting room.
''I am invincible!''
My newfound smugness at all things physical prompts me to bully my co-worker into taking the three flights back up with me. She chats effortlessly as we make our way back up to the office. I break into a sweat one flight up.
Two flights to go.
''Why does she have to ask so many questions. Can't she just shut up? I can't catch my breath. Much less hold down a conversation.''
''Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah ... And you?'' She asks.
I grab onto the handrail, pause, sputter ''yeah, sure.'' No clue what she was asking.
One flight left. My mind's gone blank. Breathing is simply no longer an option. Just reach my destination and work it out from there. I can worry about oxygen supply once the uphill climb is over.
Make it back to the office without completely depleting my stocks of O2. Brain function is still relatively intact. I ease my burning thighs down into my office chair. I made it!
Workday over, I head back to the parking garage. Can I keep my promise? Those 7 flights of stairs would, after all, do wonders for my FitBit stats. And I did manage 3 flights earlier today. And there's no obligation to hold down a conversation this time around. My mind's made up. As I open the door leading to the stairwell, I can't help but cast a slightly smug glance at the hordes waiting in the lift lobby.
Two flights up.
''If I took the elevator now, it would still be better than having taken it all the way up.''
''No, you're committed. If you don't work for it, don't bother wishing for it.''
Four flights up.
''Well this was stupid.''
''No use quitting now, you're past halfway.''
Six flights up.
''Interesting how my toes have gone completely numb. If that numbness could work itself all the way up my legs to my lungs, I could probably manage 20 flights.''
Seven flights. Final destination!
''Yes! I am queen of the fitness world!''
Get into my car. Take 5 minutes to catch my breath. Tap on my FitBit bracelet.
''Two crappy blinking lights? Seriously? Those stairs alone had to be enough to earn me 5 blinking lights. This sucks!''
Wind my way down the parking lot ramps. Ease my way into Doha traffic. Listen to my Michel Thomas Arabic CD as I make my way slowly back home.
Arrive home at 5:30 p.m. Get a text from the chatty stair-climbing insanely fit co-worker reminding me that I've signed up with my office peeps for a motivational Boot Camp at 6:30 tonight.
''OMG, is this what I agreed to on my oxygen-deprived trek up the stairs? Surely they can excuse me for being mentally impaired at the time? What the heck was I thinking?????''
''No, Gypsy, no excuses. You can do this. It's a case of mind over matter. Go girl!''
Quickly check on Kiddo's homework. Change into my sweats and runners. Grab my workout bag. Kiss Kiddo and Smilin' Vic as they encourage me in my fitness quest.
''I would sooooo trade this for a glass of wine, a fuzzy blanket, some Kraft mac and cheese and an evening watching mindless TV.''
Fight my way back into Doha evening traffic. Make it to the park with minutes to spare.
Indulge in 45 minutes of outright humiliation as my peers get a true glimpse of the chaotic spastic thrusts that I'm trying to pass off as 'coming to grips with my health'.
''I'll never live this down at the office. My eyeballs are sweating. I could be sitting alone shamelessly on my couch at home watching 'Come Dine With Me.' Why am I putting myself through this? I'll never be fit.''
''No, I need to pat myself on the shoulder. No pain, no gain. I could be home, doing nothing. I should be proud of myself for making the effort. The heat and humidity and humiliation are making me STRONG. I rock!''
''If that clean-eating, paleo-touting, knuckle-head jock, cut-to-the-bone coach makes me do one more burpee I will hunt him down, tie him up and stuff an all-dressed pizza down his throat in one sitting.''
''Hey, I just did 1 more burpee than my 55-year-old boss with the bum shoulder. I rock!''
''I really hate that coach. Wait 'til you hit your 30's buddy, then try and give me 5 more yourself!''
''I think I just had a heart attack. Seriously, my left lung just rolled out onto the grass over there.''
''Yes, 'cool down'. I made it. I rock!''
Pick my left lung up off the grass. Dust it off.
Ease my way back into Doha traffic ...