Updated: Jun 2
There’s a pandemic on the loose and it’s sweeping the nation. Yes, yes, I know about THAT pandemic, but possibly there’s another one affecting an even greater number of the population and it may be around for longer.
Covid-10, I’m talking about weight increase, indicating the number of pounds many have gained during lockdown life.
There’s much gnashing of intellectual and media teeth regarding the precise average figure (including a slightly creepy report from the States which consolidates readings from home scales - yuk).
But, let me tell you, this ‘actual figure’ can report a very accurate reading.
Despite stretchy ladies and enthusiastic Pilates gurus lecturing us from their living rooms, the annual ‘summer spread’ has become the ‘spring sag’ and it doesn’t look like abating any time soon.
But wait, there may be a secret calorie-burning weapon which all can deploy. Forget garden marathons, the Supermarket Slog is guaranteed to have you sweating, gasping for air and reaching for the Fitbit.
Contemplating only the second large shopping foray in seven weeks (we stocked-up and use the local store) I was experiencing performance anxiety. Already the increased heart-rate was nailing those calories.
Like any finely-trained athlete, I could barely sleep the night before. At an indecently early hour (imagine the shame of gate-crashing the precious NHS ring-fenced shopping hour) the training schedule started.
Preparation was key.
A light, yet fulfilling, breakfast would ward off temptation during the impending exertion.
Next, it was the kit list, providing a welcome spike in recorded steps (yippee).
Shopping list from kitchen: check. Protective gloves from car: check. Antiseptic wipes from First Aid cupboard: check. Mask from utility room: check. Bottle of water in case of lengthy excursion and potential dehydration risk: check. Bags. Bags! I’d forgotten the damn bags.
And that was before we left the driveway.
Queuing in the supermarket’s starting blocks, it was critical to regulate breathing, ensuring peak productivity upon dropping of the flag.
And they’re off!
Where once aisles were leisurely browsed - croissants or crostini? - now it is survival of the fittest.
A sprint to achieve a prerequisite social distance; the guilt-laden route-retracing (having realised you’ve passed – and forgotten – a wholemeal loaf); the rapid Corona sidestep, launching you into stacks of beans, as the only escape from a wide-load family of three.
All the time your performance is up against the stopwatch; poor souls waiting patiently outside while you wrestle with the next fortnight’s menu plan.
On to the checkout. A purchaser’s pulse-raising flashpoint, even in normality.
Now, there’s the added exertion of stock division. Bags for fridge and freezer requiring immediate neutralisation and redeployment once home. Bags that can languish for three days of decontamination. Bags that need attention, but at a more leisurely pace.
Out over the car park, biceps taught, head down, navigating throngs of eager shoppers with your goodie-laden cart.
Unpack bags, return trolley, wipe down car, wipe down hands, wipe down dog who ignored current guidance about social distancing and licked your hand.
The home run, the final furlong, you’ve made it. Now just unpacking, wiping and storage decisions stretching ahead. Pant pant.
Bridget Jones kept a diary of cigarettes smoked (different times), alcohol drank and calories burned. I have an app for the latter, but I swear it must be lying. I’m absolutely exhausted and there’s still half a day to go. Same time next week? No chance.
Please come back Joe Wicks, all is very much forgiven.