Image credit: Irma Kniivila for The Globe and Mail


I feel guilty as I bite into my freshly buttered bagel. And this is why: I’m eating bagels in the morning when I really should be going to the gym. In fact, I’m beginning to feel like a giant human bagel with blond hair and a doughy, flabby belly.

I take a sip of my coffee and the last bite of my oh-so-delicious bagel and think about the gym renewal notification I got a few days ago in my inbox.

I take a pen and paper and decide to write my reasons to renew: more energy, better mood, keep weight down, eat better and perhaps be able to resist more bagels, heart health, bones/strength, in better shape for other activities, look better in clothes, sleep better, it’s good to keep up a routine.

I put it on my fridge where I can read it.

“At this time tomorrow, I’ll be at the gym!” I say to the list.

I need to get into a non-negotiable routine. It must have the discipline of a military manoeuvre.

I wake up really groggy the next morning to the sound of the alarm rudely and abruptly buzzing. I feel totally overwhelmed thinking about all that must be done: laundry, e-mails, texts, groceries and overseeing repairs on the house – and now I have to add my visit to the gym to these tasks.
I identify my first doable task: “Dress the part,” I tell myself.

I go to my closet and peer in.

After some rummaging in a pile of clothes, I find my yoga pants.

I shimmy into them. They feel especially tight.

“Perhaps my husband is drying things on a high heat,” I think. “Or perhaps he hasn’t and I’m just bigger.” Sigh.

Finding the right clothes and looking like I’m going to the gym has exhausted me. I’m tempted to abort the mission right there, but I read my reasons list on the refrigerator and march onward.

I head out the door toward the gym knowing it will be my new route, new routine. As I walk by a café three blocks from the gym, the smell of freshly brewed coffee and the promise of a warm toasted buttered bagel (which I know from experience they have!) lure me in.

“A coffee and bagel, please,” I hear myself say to the waitress.

And I feel like I’ve earned the bagel. Just having on all that active wear makes me feel as if I’ve just come from an invigorating workout. I add real cream to my coffee (Oh, what a treat!) and await my bagel with joyful anticipation. I have such a feeling of well-being just from wearing yoga pants.

I decide to take my coffee outside to sit at one of their patio tables. That way I can put one of their soft red blankets on my lap! Oh, what a morning to be up and out! I look around at all the tattoos, nose piercings and funky hair. This is such an uber-hip place with nothing like it around for at least seven blocks. It’s special.

Why don’t I eat my morning bagels here instead of store-bought ones at home? I wonder why I hadn’t thought of this before. Even just going on my new gym route is giving me so much! Everything here is locally and organically grown. And I’ve always wanted to be one of those fit people who eats right and supports their local community of farmers, bakers, etc.

The waitress comes outside with my bagel and fruit.

“I’ve put a small sample of our locally grown jam on the side just in case you want to try it,” she says as she sets it down.

How wonderful! I bite into the bagel. It’s hot and fresh. It’s heaven. The bagels I’ve been eating at home pale in comparison to this experience. Even the presentation of the bagel is great. It’s served on robin’s-egg-blue china and the coffee is in a robin’s-egg-blue mug. The bagel, the coffee with cream, the china, the red blanket and crisp morning! Heaven, I say!

Even though the gym is just down the street from here, it feels like a million miles away. Sitting in a Parisian-style café right here in Calgary, a hot sweaty workout environment (all that effort) just feels so … wrong.

The fact that I am here and in spandex is a step forward (it’s halfway to the gym).

“Have faith,” I try to reassure myself. “You will do this. You will make it to the gym. Maybe not today, but you’ll be on the tread grooving to the music in no time!”

“Could I have more coffee please? Oh, and this jam is delicious!” I say to the waitress as I snuggle into my blanket.

I sigh with pleasure and savour the moment.

The moment I stopped feeling guilty.

(Image credit: Irma Kniivila for The Globe and Mail)

Published by The Globe and Mail
January 3, 2016