I once went on an extended pub crawl dressed as Yoda from Star Wars. It was a very long evening as I recall, and sadly before the days of ubiquitous camera phones. So no digital pictures exist that I can share with you, although I’m sure some of my fellow participants, some of which I am still in contact with, may have some paper ones somewhere.
In my professional career there are a few film analogies and stories that I have milked to death, and this is one of them.
It was actually an organised work event, early 2000s as I recall. Nowadays the idea that a major employer would encourage that kind of thing - allowing, no promoting, the idea that hundreds of its People go round the pubs of Bristol and get paralytically drunk, (for charity) probably cuts across good Wellbeing practice. Who knows, maybe the event persists, I know it’s recalled fondly as evidenced by frequent Memories on Facebook.
In the light of 2020, the whole idea of Wellbeing has assumed massive proportions. I’m sure our ancestors, cave-dwellers, peat-walkers, and subsistence farmers etc would laugh at how we have moaned and griped our way through what is a fairly minor bit of pestilence, historically-speaking anyway. But then again, they probably had more resilience than we now have, and hadn’t yet figured a way to contrive their world into such an inter-dependent, convoluted techno-bubble.
Bubble, a word only previously associated with “I’m Forever blowing” etc. Yes, I was in that crowd singing, a great day out it was too. Although watching football from the warmth and comfort of your living room has many advantages, it’s nothing like the real thing, particularly in the cold and damp of December. But yes, I have missed it. As for these other Jonny-come-lately “bubbles”, what’s wrong with just using the word “Group”?
And DGMS on “self-isolation”. We used to call it quarantine which I’m almost pleased to see named as Word of the Year by the Cambridge Dictionary. What an honour. Back when a name was first given to it, it meant 40 days away from people, Italian and ships I think. Nowadays it means whatever the latest set of complicated local restrictions says it means. In whichever tier you are in.
There was also a time when the word “mute” wasn’t offensive, whereas now it’s just become one of those hilarious things to say to the person who can’t figure out the controls of whichever video platform they happen to be using that day. Or who has become so engrossed in reading emails that they’ve lost sight of the fact there was a conversation going on.
But behind all of my tongue in cheek cynicism, there are some serious points of course. We have all had to deal with a lot. My public face might look all cheerful, plain and professional, but outside of the sight lines of the camera it’s a mess.
Cables and junk absolutely everywhere, tasks half-started and never finished, whilst lurking in the background is a bit of Christmas promise, to be quickly followed by the gloom of the New Year.
Yes, it’s been tough. Yes that’s a metaphor.
I’m sure many of you have also struggled, and I’m no exception, but, in time-honoured fashion, I don’t want to make a fuss. Nor am I comparing my challenges with yours, or saying I know how you feel. Our normal, bearable day-to-day struggles have been tipped over the edge by isolation, illness or the threat of it, but above all, by uncertainty and novelty. Not in a good way.
But just for once I’m going to break Shirley’s rule and make a bit of a fuss. Because finally my own poor choices have caught up with me, not in a big way, more in an early-warning way, face this or die horribly in the future way. Much as I’d like to bury my head in the sand, my heart won’t allow it.
I have been diagnosed with something called pre-diabetes. I’m 77kg, 171cm and have slightly elevated blood sugar than is good for me. I won’t give you all the detail about glycated haemoglobin, suffice to say that I’ve just slipped over the border into bandit country.
Despite a fairly active life, and reasonably good diet, it has not come as the shock you might expect. For one, experts (them again) reckon about a third of the UK adult population is walking around with this condition, undiagnosed. That’s on top of about 10% who knowingly or unknowingly have full-blow Type 2 Diabetes. A figure that is expected to rise quickly over the next few years.
My condition is far away from serious, it’s the beginnings of an early-warning sign. It was only picked up in me by a serendipitous blood test. And whilst I have only just snuck over the line in terms of the figures, I have been fairly sedentary for the last three months, and been absolutely caning the chocolate. So in truth, I was not surprised that the last few months of 2020, on have this on.
My weight has been creeping up for years, gradually, stealthily, and I lazily ignored it. After all, I can still cycle 100km without really breaking a sweat, 200km in a day fairly easily, and my VO2 and FTP are superb for my age. But it’s not enough. Unfortunately, despite what the Daily Mail will have you believe, our behaviour isn’t the only factor at play here. Stress, genetics and lack of sleep can all play their part in influencing our blood sugar, so it’s not all down to lifestyle. Whatever the cause, I am going to have to deal with it, and look at eating more healthily, getting more sleep, reducing my stress and being more active. Easy eh?
Now is the time for me to follow Yoda’s advice. With any luck I can mobilise my compulsive gene to become a full-on healthy-eating and focussed exerciser. But in my heart of hearts I know that’s not me, I will just have to find my own way and do the best I can to reclaim my health, and push the numbers in the right direction.
Right now I feel exhausted just thinking about it, and I am longing for the next week to pass so I can have some time off at Christmas. Much as the Rapha 500 appeals, I probably should have a break from setting myself tough challenges and concentrate on eating dust and grass. But then again, if this year is to have anything good come out of it, I should look on the bright side. I have the opportunity and the resources to do something about it, and the brains to make the right choices.
As it goes I have been wrestling with a few other consequences of choices I made in other areas too. It’s time to let those anxieties go as well. I just don’t want to carry that baggage around with me any longer, so along with the chocolate, they will just have to go.