Thursday, 10 November 2011

How fear and tea led me to my happy place

Way back in my youth, the gym was one of the few places in which I did not feel socially awkward. My social phobia (self-diagnosed) has worsened since I stopped working and have become increasingly isolated from the outside world.

I would love to return to gym, but it just is not possible at the moment. I have been thinking about running or even brisk walking as a form of exercise. But since it entailed leaving the house by myself, I have invented every excuse in the book to delay it- until Monday morning, that is.

Anna, the domestic worker who comes in once a week, usually enjoys a cup of tea upon arrival. This morning cuppa, downgrades her general demeanour from extremely
grumpy to just plain grumpy. So imagine my horror when Monday rolled around and I realised that we had run out of tea.

Despite the fact that it was chilly and windy outside, I preferred to brave the elements rather than face the wrath of Anna. So I bundled a confused Aisha into her pram, and set off for the supermarket three blocks away. As the icy wind hit  our faces, Aisha shrieked with delight. Walking outside down the road with Mommy- this was a first.

I sped to and from the supermarket in no time, bringing the lifesaving tea in the nick of time. Operation 'Saving Sulky Anna' had been a success.

But the more enduring consequence of this outing had been an invigorating and blood-pumping workout, which had left me feeling uncharacteristically happy. I did, however, feel sleepy for the rest of the day. Exercise tends to do that to me. I am always amazed at my brother, who enjoys a vigorous workout every morning at 7 am before going to work feeling rejuvenated.

But the positive effects of my light exercise had been enough for me to do it again the following day. This time I walked around our block, then the next one and the next one, then after that around the perimeter of the three blocks. I increased the distance a bit each day.

If any observer in our area should happen to behold a lean, superfit mommy, with a ripped body in designer sportsgear, pushing a baby in a state-of-the-art three wheel jogging stroller, you can almost be certain that that mommy is..yep, my opposite neighbour Sarah.

But, not to brag, I am sure that I appear just as remarkable as Sarah does- definitely not a sight to be overlooked or easily forgotten. Huffing and puffing and panting, with my one hand on my rickety pram and the other holding up my oversized tracksuit pants, which is constantly threatening to drop to my knees, I can be seen looking rather politically incorrect with my orange, white and blue hijab flapping violently in the wind, looking much like the Old South African flag.

I walk briskly so as to keep my heart rate up and when I am absolutely sure that no one is looking, I start running with the pram. Until I spot someone looking, in which case I reduce my speed to a casual stroll, faking an air of bored nonchalance, which continues until the coast is once again clear, when I break into another crazy dash. I'm sure poor Aisha wishes she had the vocabulary to tell me how embarrassed she is.

This light exercise has already had a positive impact on me physically, in that my energy levels have increased tremendously. My improved mood can apparently be attributed to the fact that one's brain releases endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine when one exercises.

So, in the end, I am very glad that I had been forced out of the house on Monday morning. Thank goodness my Anna-phobia was greater than my social phobia.

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