Girl, 14: Part 1
"We're going to need a bigger fridge." Those were my mother's words as she struggled to force the weekly groceries into the inadequately sized cooling device. The problem wasn't really the size of the fridge, but rather the size of the groceries. You see, we were shopping for a family of 5, only there weren't five of us, there were two. And one of us was often heard saying things like, "I don't think I'll have any dinner tonight, I had breakfast yesterday." So that left me, a shorter than average 13-year-old with long, skinny limbs and the appetite of a competitive eater.
I did a lot of sport as a teenager. There were swimming training sessions each morning before school, running, hockey or some other practice at lunchtime and a combination of dance classes, gymnastics and martial arts in the evenings. All of this activity necessarily required a large intake of fuel. I could eat and eat and eat and remain a happy little stick insect. This good fortune lasted well into my early twenties. In fact, I became famed for my eating abilities. I could put away a family sized pizza, single-handedly in an unnaturally small amount of mouthfuls. Crowds would gather around me, cheering me on as I demolished anything edible that passed in front of my face. "It must be a gift," I thought to myself. "No matter how much I consume, my waistline remains obediently where it is!" I celebrated my marvellous metabolism with an extra slice of apple pie.
Then one day a new kid came to town. A kid with skills to rival mine. I watched on in equal doses of horror and admiration as he ingested an entire lamb shank with mint gravy served with mashed potatoes and vegetables, an extra side of deep fried Italian potatoes and a garlic pizza bread with mozzarella cheese... for lunch. There was no question that we'd be married, the question was what food would we have at the wedding?
Jack and I had a few happy years of consequence-free consumption, but then we started a business and things started to go awry. Don't get me wrong, we're still in fairly good shape, it's just a slightly rounder shape than it used to be. We've had to deal with the revelation that we don't have miracle metabolisms, the reason we stayed slim was because we spent 15 hours a day running around a restaurant. Since we've swapped all of that running for a whole lot of sitting, we've noticed that there's now a bit more of us in certain places than we'd perhaps like. Given that there was no way on earth either of us would entertain the idea of that soul-destroying, misery-inducing, happiness-sucking endeavour known as a diet, there was only one thing for it: we'd have to move more.
We started running faster, lifting heavier and pushing harder. Things were looking good, we were getting fitter and stronger and feeling generally good about our improved lifestyles. And then we read the headline: Sitting is the new smoking. Apparently, an hour of exercise a day is not enough to offset the negative effects of sitting at a desk for 7 hours. Furthermore, a sedentary lifestyle not only slows the metabolism reducing the body's ability to regulate blood sugar and break down fat, it also increases the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Essentially sitting down for too long, an occupation that nature clearly never intended for us, is killing us. My jaw hit the excess layer of fat around my midriff (which had been stubbornly ignoring my attempts at obliterating it with cardio) and I leapt out of my seat.
Running a greeting card company does not always provide the best opportunity for activity. Besides the occasional trips to the stock room or the Post Office, it mostly constitutes sitting in front of a computer or sitting in front of an easel or sitting in front of a pile of cards. But then Jack had a brainwave. What if we could stand in front of the computer and the easel and the pile of cards? Within ten minutes we had ordered some new table legs that would raise our desk by a foot and located some stools in the shed which could be refurbished and brought into the office. This time next week we will be able to alternate between standing and sitting during our working day with absolutely zero disruption to the task in hand. Coupled with our Olympic training regime and the fact that there are nearly as many steps in our house as there are in the Vatican, we should be able to save our hearts and blood vessels whilst avoiding death by swivel chair.
You see, Jack and I would rather sprint up hills and cycle through mud, we would rather stand up at our desks and we would rather modify every single item of furniture in our home and office rather than turn our backs on the shared aptitude for consumption that brought us together all those years ago. And just for the record, we'll be serving pizza at the wedding.