Magazine article The Spectator

Fit for Purpose

Magazine article The Spectator

Fit for Purpose

Article excerpt

I wonder how much of what we think we love and need is merely habit. It's only ten weeks since I stopped smoking 100 a day and now I hardly think about it. For sure, I fancy one occasionally, but I suppose I could say the same thing about women, and I'm happily married.

Really, I'm absolutely astonished how quickly cigarettes ceased to preoccupy me, part of another life already, although lighters and papers, flints and filters are still turning up in coat pockets. Of course there's always plenty of room for the wheels to fall off the no-smoking bus, but I hope they don't.

I think I'm over it. No regrets and more a feeling of growing up than giving up.

The main thing about stopping smoking that worried me, worries most people, is that I'd suddenly turn into Jabba the Hut, a blob. Initially, going smoke free comes with a big burst of energy and my carefully hatched plan was to swap the addiction for nicotine for the equally addictive vanity of exercise -- and it seems to have worked.

The last time I gave up smoking I was running cross-country, over the fields until I could run no more. Sort of romantic, sort of effective, but this time I've gone for a more scientific, direct approach. It's taken me two years to get round to it and I reckoned if it was going to buy me another ten it was worth investing a bit of cash and time on the project. The more I thought about it, the more I figured that it was the most important thing I had to do this year. So I bought some reconditioned fitness equipment and booked myself a trainer three times a week.

I'm also trying to do another three times a week in the gym with my wife, mainly arguing with her about whose turn it is to use the big running machine now. She had a baby at the beginning of autumn and is as keen as me to get trim. Side by side in the whitewashed gym, the two running machines, his and hers, look like a piece of contemporary art in a gallery, a strange futuristic echo of a romantic promenade, or an eerie postmodern take on a rose garden, perhaps. …

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