As a famous comedian once said "I am in shape, I'm a circle."
To be honest, things have never got that bad for me. I've always been of a pretty average build, though for the first time ever about 6 weeks ago I measured my weight/height and my bmi came out as 25.4 - the first time that I've ever been in the 25-30 'overweight' category.
Though all these measurements should be taken with a pinch of salt, and in a greater context, this still came as a bit of a downer for me. I remember walking up Winhill near Edale in early 2007 with a friend and being massively out of breath after our first climb. It was the first time that it really hit me that during my university years I'd gotten incredibly unfit. Luckily at the time there were a number of options to help me regain my fitness, and 5-a-side football managed to get me the fitness back.
Out in India I did a few runs with another volunteer, Ben. I'd only done treadmill running before, where it's easy to give up part-way through a run. With the added pressure of knowing that the run would always last as long as we'd planned it, road running became a somewhat different challenge, but one I thoroughly enjoyed. Unfortunately for my 7 months out there, Ben was only out for two weeks - and I probably did just as many runs in the time he wasn't there to the time he was. With the weather being as it was, and the active nature of most of the work though, my fitness levels remained high.
Since coming back to Manchester, my main method of travel to work was to cycle. That also stopped though, after having my bike stolen outside Oxford Road Station. I replaced that bike with a road bike, which worked well enough for a few months. It was a bit too cheap though, and soon started falling to bits. I then used a mountain bike (full suspension) which tired me, so linked up with the train and stopped cycling. I've also done a little bit of football whilst back up in Manchester, but without a permanent team this has been hit-and-miss.
I was then challenged by Dan back in June to sign up for a 10K run in Heaton Park. A few years back this would have completely phased me, but after putting in some initial training I realised that it was perfectly manageable. I've now got a pretty strict training regime (which I hope to keep updated on my endomondo page) - and am trying other pursuits also to keep my fitness up.
One thing that has always daunted me before was heading to the gym with friends. I was always stronger at racquet sports than lifting weights - but having few friends who'd play racquet sports, it was always cardio or weight training that the guys would do. Whilst they were lifting their bodyweight, I was lifting the equivalent of a rice krispie - and struggling.
This weekend we went Mountain Biking, with an initial route planned of 32 miles. However, including the 4 mile (each way) cycle from the station to the start point of the route, it was soon clear that completing the entire route was no longer an option. The first stage of the route was a 10 mile climb up snake pass, and despite not setting the world on fire, I set a good pace and made it up trouble free. The guys I was with were very complimentary.
Moral of the story - if you're going to compare yourself to others and feel inferior, try comparing yourself using a different yardstick.