Attack of the tae kwon dodos

I’ve been running around the house all week yelling “tae kwon dodo!!” and pulling ridiculous martial arts poses.

“You’re so embarrassing, Mum,” Drama Duck says. The other two just ignore me.

The scene in Ice Age where the dodos do taekwondo is one of my favourite parts. I love it when one executes a flying kick off a cliff and the others peer mournfully over the edge and say “That was our last female”. But my taekwondodoism this week has had an ulterior motive: trying to get the ducklings revved up about starting taekwondo.

They had their first lesson on Tuesday night. Halfway through Baby Duck burst into hysterical sobs and watched the rest of the lesson from the safety of my lap. Not sure why, but apparently the yelling was scary and it was hard and boring. Most things are, according to him. The only thing that isn’t boring is watching TV.

Undeterred, I decided to try the Thursday night class instead. Same taekwondo school, but a different location and a few younger students. To make it more appealing, I said I’d do the class too so I could help him.

Thus I have just had my first taekwondo lesson. The combination of me and martial arts is such an unlikely one, anyone who knows me will now be rolling around the floor laughing. But I made quite a good taekwondodo. I’m going to be sore tomorrow, but I had fun.

The teacher was a lovely man who I now feel very sorry for, as not one but two ducklings burst into tears before the end of the class. Baby Duck again for his own inscrutable reasons, and Demon Duck who lost it when asked to do something she didn’t know how to do and spent the rest of the class sobbing in the toilets. I’m sure the poor man thought it was his fault, but it was just her painful perfectionism coming out. He was a gentle and patient teacher, and seemed quite stunned that he’d managed to make two of them cry. I told him to go for the hat trick next week.

On the way home Demon Duck asked when we would be getting our uniforms.

“Maybe when we get through a lesson without anyone crying.”

Health by stealth

If I had been so deluded as to make a New Year’s resolution to get fit and lose weight – I only say if, mind you, since I certainly wasn’t – if I had been so foolishly optimistic about my own intestinal fortitude, then I might have been busy exercising and setting targets and denying myself peppermint chocolate. And really, what’s life without peppermint chocolate?

Since I am not so deluded, I have instead been sneaking up on myself. Yes, it’s my new plan – better health by stealth. I think I should trademark that – Health by Stealth™! The new path to a better you! No more weighing yourself, or feeling guilty and miserable when you eat that slice of cake, or miss a day of exercise because it’s too hot/too cold/the planets are in the wrong alignment. Never go near a gym! Perfect for people who don’t like exercise!

What is this wonderful plan? I hear you cry. And why are you not already flogging it on late-night TV?

It’s fiendishly simple. Pretend to everyone, but especially to yourself, that you are not trying to get fit or lose any weight. You see? Am I not cunning?? No pressure. No angst. If I happen to go for a few more walks than normal, well, so what? I like walking. The fact that it may have some effect on my health and/or weight is neither here nor there. If I keep myself so busy I don’t have time to stop and snack, it doesn’t mean I’m trying to lose weight. I just have lots of things to do. And if I’m making sure to eat enough fruit and yoghurt, well, I’m just trying to look after myself. The fact that it makes me too full to fit in the chocolate is just a side effect.

And no, I’m not going to weigh myself. I’ll know if any of these things I’m sort of accidentally doing behind my own back are having any effect when my clothes start to feel loose.

But how does this work if you don’t like exercise? I hear you cry.

I’m glad you asked that question! I don’t like exercise that’s boring and repetitive. Especially if it hurts as well. So gyms just don’t work for me. All that squatting and pumping and feeling the burn. I like walking because there are always nice gardens to admire and people to say hello to, or you can just zone out and think about writing. I like dancing too, though that’s a little harder to organise. I need fun things I can do at home. Hula hooping is a good one, because it works up a sweat plus it keeps me interested as I try to learn new tricks. Check out some of the amazing things people can do with hoops here.

I’ve never been a runner because I’m just not fit enough. I can barely jog for a minute before my chest explodes and I have to stop. But running has the same advantages that walking does, of being outside, nice things to look at, etc, and I do like a challenge, sooo …

I found this cool site, Couch to 5k. That’s me: couch potato extraordinaire. It claims that even slobs like me who can’t run can work their way up to a 5km run using this program.

Now obviously I can’t commit to that, because then I’d have a fitness goal, and angst and disappointment and self-loathing blah blah blah. So if anybody asks – especially me! – I’m certainly not doing this. But I might just happen to do a little running while I’m out walking, and if it happens to follow the same pattern as the program mentioned on Couch to 5k, well, gosh! What a coincidence.

And if I was trying to lose weight, I’d probably like some encouragement, some feeling of community. I could go and read a site like Five Full Plates, where five very funny ladies are documenting their weight-loss challenge. But since I’m not, I just read it for the laughs.