Getting older is something we all do, yet it seems to be something that no-one does very graciously. I haven’t yet met anyone who isn’t going to die, or someone of my age who isn’t complaining of getting older, starting to creak or of some ailment that brings them down. Naturally, being northern and having been brought up on a diet of melancholia and squalor (as most southerners would have me believe), I have the odd whinge myself now and again.
Moving house last year meant signing up with a new doctor, and hitting 40 has made such appointments more fearful. One of the abiding memories of my youthful past is Billy Connolly’s story of his first prostate cancer check on reaching this otherwise fine and distinguished age. I’m still awaiting a call for this first check, and I was kind of expecting it to come up in conversation when I met my new doctor for the first time for a general check.
It didn’t, but I did find out, over the course of a couple of conversations, that my blood pressure and my cholesterol were high, possibly on account of being overweight.
There are lots of people overweight in this country, and it is a big problem, costing the health service millions each year and all because of overeating, badly labelled food, too much convenience food and the reluctance of the Government to make simple legislation to control it better amongst, I dare say, other things. I have been around about the 15 stone mark for about ten years, and neither adding weight or taking it off, just fluctuating around a mean. I don’t particularly look overweight either, but I had been noticing, perhaps because of the passage of time and the general movement at this age into fleshy bagginess, that I wasn’t that happy with the way I was looking in photographs. I had begun worrying about being a trim and energetic father to Toots as well, and being able to keep up with her.
And so, after Christmas last year, with some apprehension and much encouragement from my wife, I joined the local Weight Watchers group. And, bloody hell, it’s been magnificent!
At the first meeting, the plan was explained to me – basically every food is worth a number of points, and you chose what to eat each day within your set number of points – and I was weighed and set a target of losing 10% of my starting weight.
Five months on, having started at 15 stone 11.5lb, I have gone below my 10%, and I am looking to get to my goal of 13 stone 7, which is the upper end of my healthy BMI. The plan has been challenging, particularly as the points drop as your weight comes off, but for me, it’s all about portion control and cutting out the snacks. In addition, my blood pressure has also dropped to within an optimum level, and when I see my doctor next week, I expect my cholesterol to have dropped as well. And I feel more energetic and look better in photos. In fact, some people are worried I’ve lost too much weight and ought to stop…All in all, an excellent job. And yes, Weight Watchers is dominated by women, but the are plenty off men there too.
And their chocolate bars are delicious.