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Notes to self

Globetrotting writer Gaby Doman reflects on the everyday ups and downs of being a modern woman

Tabloid on Saturday

I’m on a little bit of a high today. A few months ago a date asked me what my dream was and I surprised myself by not really being able to think of anything much more than “Erm, I’d like a six pack. I’d like to go on holiday more. I guess I’d like to write a book …”

They didn’t really feel like dreams. They felt like things I could achieve fairly easily (bar the book) within a few months. The book dream is nice, but to be honest, the thought of it makes me feel heavy-hearted at the amount of work it will involve. I’d love to do it, but it doesn’t make my heart soar like a dream should. It kind of makes me want to go back to bed.

So, in an attempt to figure out a dream I painstakingly, over the course of a few weeks, wrote a list of 30 things I wanted to do before I hit 30 at the end of this year (I’ve lost the list now, whoops). It was full of all sorts of things, but was dominated by fitness goals.

Every day I wake up thinking of what I will do in the gym that day. I plan my whole life around it; work, social life, everything. It’s a special occasion indeed if I will ditch the gym for it. I’ve lost countless followers on Twitter by boring everyone about my workouts (apparently nobody cares when I’ve increased my weight in Body Pump class) and most of my stories revolve around the gym and people who work or exercise there.

Even so, I didn’t really think of myself as a gym person. I still thought of myself as the 13-year-old girl who faked her dad’s signature to get off PE class for a month, and the girl who hid behind a hill to avoid playing rounders or stumbled in last and scowled at everyone clapping (assuming it’s patronising) when running cross-country. I was the last to get picked for everything and I had no aspiration to change that. Even as recently as four years ago, when I first started writing this column, I wrote one about how much I hated the gym with its mirrors, tightly fitted clothing and equipment you don’t know how to use. That column got me the only hate mail I can ever recall (from a gym owner in the US who said I was irresponsible in putting people off the gym).

But something changed very gradually (although, I still hate running and team sports) when I started jogging, boxing and yoga. Since then I’ve moved on to weights, my main love in the gym. They make me feel strong and kinda cool, and there’s no better feeling than lifting more weight than a big hulking guy next to you. It’s addictive.

Anyway, this is a very roundabout way of saying that I think I have found my dream. When I think about what I really want to do, it’s to get people lifting weights, specifically women. A lot of people ask me what they can do in the gym, especially those who have seen me drop three or four dress sizes, and they always ignore me when I say weights and instead go and run for hours because they “don’t want to get bulky”, or they “want to slim down first”, or “only want to tone up”. FYI, weights won’t bulk up women and they’ll make you burn fat and tighten up.

So, I’d like to get a personal training qualification and write, write, write wherever I can about weights. I’m so bored of hearing about girls barely eating, doing ridiculous fasts and detoxs (which in my opinion is just starvation under another name) and making themselves scrawny and weak when they could be making themselves strong and lean.

Now when people ask me what my dream is, I can wax lyrical about how much I love to pick up big, heavy things and to see other people do the same.