Sunday, 13 December 2015

You gotta fight for your right to partake

Over the past couple of years a gradual transformation has taken place.
Events beyond my control and their aftermath coupled with a tendency to enjoy the finer things in life have conspired to change my body from one that I think was in pretty reasonable shape for my age, to one that I'm rapidly becoming a wee bit ashamed of.
Let's start from the top. The hairline is beating a hasty retreat in a desperate bid to join forces with the empty space on top, so it won't be long before all I have left is that sort of horseshoe shape wrapped around my head.
This is why I cut my hair so short and periodically consider simply shaving my head and being done with it for good. If Patrick Stewart can get away with it then so can I.

Moving on down we're met with moobs that are one small step from requiring a training bra. Shave my body and put a wig on me and you could almost get away with throwing me up the catwalk because they're already bigger than those on the average emaciated supermodel.
I say almost, because given that supermodels typically regard their digestive system as a kind of two-way operation, bringing back most of that which finds its way in, my belly would spoil the image in its current state. A couple of years ago it was more or less in check, but now, although I suspect I still have a six-pack, it seems to be cunningly camouflaged beneath a food and beer induced pad that gets in the way when I tie my shoelaces. I make light of it by calling it my one-pack, but I despise it.
You know something needs attention when it causes your underpants waistband to fold over.

In contrast to the beer belly and tits, my legs have degenerated since I've been having trouble getting any proper exercise that would keep them strong. The right has noticeably more muscle on it than the left due to compensating for the ruined left knee, and they're both suffering from a lack of cycling.
Come to that, my overall muscle mass has declined since I stopped riding motorcycles (I haven't ridden since the crash that took my knee out) and it's surprising how much riding big bikes is like going to the gym - like a full body workout when you're hustling a quarter ton of machine around twisty country roads at warp factor four.
Not only that, my fitness has not just gone downhill, but also failed to make the hairpin bend halfway down and hurtled through the crash barrier into the yawning chasm below.
For example, yesterday I put up a new blind in the kitchen. This required drilling four small holes in the lintel to accept Rawlplugs for the end fittings. Having performed this task I was shocked to find myself huffing and puffing as though I'd just run the 200 metres sprint.
Something needs to be done.

I know exactly what I need to do to combat this decline in my physical state, but actually doing it will take phenomenal willpower, and I worry that I may not be able to summon up the necessary reserves to keep me going.
First I need to reduce my consumption of certain things, and although I revisit this issue time after time, I never really get to grips with it long term.
Biscuits, crisps, and alcohol are my greatest enemies here, and not necessarily in that order.
My alcohol consumption has seen a gentle rise of late, when by rights I should have been cutting back. If I can force myself to have just one bottle of wine at the weekend and nothing during the week that would be a huge improvement.
Biscuits are tricky, partly due to 'Biscuit Club' at work and partly because they're habitually the first thing I reach for if I fancy a snack, and of course one or two is never enough. If they're really nice ones I'll happily sit hugging the packet until they're all gone and I start beating myself up over consuming around a thousand calories for sod all nutritional value.
It's not all bad news though, because I've recently given up eating meat which can only be a good thing. Ecologically, morally, and nutritionally it felt like the right thing to do and surprisingly I don't miss it at all - not even bacon. I do still eat fish a couple of times a week but that's it, and I must say that I do feel better for it.

I also need to get more exercise, but this is where it gets tricky. I'm physically incapable of running now, so it's important for it to be a low / non impact activity.
Cycling is great as long as I refrain from pushing too hard, but at this time of year it's difficult to get the enthusiasm to do it while battling against the wind and rain - kinda takes the fun out of it...
Swimming would be a good idea because you get wet regardless, but although I can swim (crawl only - never could master the weird frog-like leg movement of breaststroke) I wouldn't say it's something I've ever enjoyed.
What I ought to do is break the habit of a lifetime and actually go to the gym where I can get advice for a proper workout that will burn calories, increase my fitness and muscle mass, as well as kicking those feel-good hormones into action. God knows I could do with them.
So the next logical step is to investigate the local gym, stop buying crappy snack foods, and limit the alcohol to weekends only.

It's sad that the things we really like are usually bad for us.
A few years ago I went teetotal and caffeine-free for about a year, and to this day I can't remember why I went back on it because I've never felt better than I did during that time.
But if we gave up absolutely everything we enjoy, we'd be so damn miserable that life would not seem worth living.
The mad thing is that I do generally eat healthy meals. For example, Friday's dinner was a big swordfish steak with boiled new potatoes and samphire. Yesterday was vegetable chilli with brown rice.
Then I'll spoil it with half a bottle of wine and a large packet of Tesco Finest cheddar and caramelised red onion crisps.
To imagine a life devoid of Galaxy chocolate, Jaffa Cakes, Hob Nobs, Pringles, Jack Daniels, and Taylor's 'After Dark' coffee, and replaced with one involving little but carrot sticks, cottage cheese, and peppermint tea is pretty bloody depressing, but if the alternative is to carry on down the path I'm currently walking then I suppose these are sacrifices I may very well have to make.
And salt & vinegar rice cakes aren't a bad alternative snack....