It was early summer when I decided to get off my ass and shed unwanted weight, mid-December to be specific. On one hand, I thought it was the worst month to start a fitness regimen, what with Christmas and all its shimmering glazed hams hovering in the weeks to come, threatening to wreck my resolve. On the other hand, it was the beginning of New Zealand’s warm weather – no better season for subjecting yourself to cardio torture in the great outdoors. Besides, you can always shower off sweaty armpits, but chilblains stay for quite a while.
I had no illusions of sculpting my body into Olympic athlete proportions, I still don’t. I just wanted to acquire some endurance and muscle tone, so I don’t devolve into a jellyfish any time soon. As it was, I was in a perpetual state of, if I’m totally honest, slightly comatose.
And so, I started to walk around my neighborhood. I stayed close to home in the first few days, in case I needed resuscitation during the initial 5 or 10 minutes of dragging my feet across the gravel road.
But I was determined to gain enough stamina to rival that of my 4-year old’s, or at least keep up. Because, have you ever tried to chase a pint-sized vortex of destruction, hellbent on absenting himself from preschool? So I pushed myself out the door every morning. Drizzle or shine, every damn day.
My first awkward venture onto the street where my house stood, soon stretched into the next suburb, and the next, and so on. Sometimes up to the Wellington CBD. I roamed everywhere.
And I liked it.
I explored Oruaiti Reserve in Seatoun, an uphill climb on a track that leads to cliff tops with breathtaking views, and historical remnants from two world wars. (On a side note, while the waterscapes were pretty damn cool, some of the steps were also so fucking steep it will literally take your breath away. Don’t bother if the wind forecast is less than ideal, unless you have a rescue chopper on stand by. And a comprehensive health insurance plan)
I ambled along the road from Seatoun’s Marine Parade to Scorching Bay. It is an hour and a half return trip, but the promise of a cold, fruit smoothie from Scorch-O-Rama kept me going.
Then there’s the wide foot path by Lyall Bay beach, spanning the coast and ushering a trail to Island Bay. The magnificent skyline, only occasionally disrupted by airplanes landing on the nearby runway, a sight to behold in itself. This area also boasts of the legendary Maranui cafe, Parrotdog brewery, and Spruce Goose.
When short on time, but in the mood for a brisk stroll, I traversed the flat expanse of Strathmore shops to Miramar Ave. And from there, circumnavigated my way from Para Street, to The Weta Cave, and ending at Park Road that is just off Miramar Ave. It’s a tad busier with regards to foot traffic, but no less interesting. Here you could grab coffee from The Roxy, brunch from Park Kitchen, pizzas from Merkato Fresh, and sweet treats from Nicoletta’s.
I am fully aware of the irony of waxing poetic about local eateries, after declaring beforehand that I needed to drop a few pounds. What can I say. In my pursuit of flat abs, I unintentionally rediscovered past suburban haunts, and discovered new ones that makes for a happy foodie but an unhappy gym bunny. Arguably, I don’t even have a gym membership, but the point is, I’m screwed.
Some might call it Murphy’s Law, while I like to call it A Big Fuck You From The Universe.
But every now and again, I like looking at the bright side. And today is particularly bright at a burning 30 something degrees. At the risk of sounding cliché, you are only alive once and I’d like to spend that living instead of merely existing (by the way, I use the same excuse to eat an extra muffin after I bake a batch in my kitchen). Therefore, as I lace up my worn out sneakers, under the glare of the morning sun, I find there is nothing better than being surrounded by the visceral beauty of this suburbanopolis which has claimed me as one of its own, before running towards a nearby cafe, grabbing the most awesome cheese scones this side of earth, and trekking back to the ever familiar winding road that leads me home.