I’m 58 years old, I’m obese, I have a long term health condition and this morning I’m feeling brilliant!
A mote in the Big Data cloud of healthcare, I’m part of that NHS nightmare, the demographic tsunami of people due to appear at A&E with strokes, heart attacks, diabetic hypoglycaemia, kidney failure, liver damage and dementia.
Except that I’m not, because this morning Mo Farah and I went out running. I ran for five thousand metres and so did he. We didn’t do this side by side. I shambled from my front gate, padded along a nearby stream and into the city centre and staggered home. Mo’s 5k would have been just part of his usual 17 mile a day schedule - probably in Kenya or the Pyrenees for the altitude. If we’d set out together, I would have been back home in 33 minutes. He would have made it in under 15 – leaving him time to make us both a pot of decent coffee and tuck into his Frosties before I stumbled in the front door.
But I’m not disheartened by the comparison, because this morning, for the first time, I ran my 5K without stopping. This makes me the latest graduate from the greatest innovation in the NHS – the “Couch to 5k” programme. This free routine does exactly what it says on the tin. It takes fat people like me – whether wheezy geezers on their sofas or roly-poly teenagers behind computers - and drags them out into the fresh air. In nine weeks we go from being utterly moribund to running 5 kilometers. It took me 17 weeks because I’m old, idle and had a few weeks off whilst my ligaments gave up briefly. But I made it!
I’m still defined as “obese” but heading for my next goal – to be “overweight”. For those of you who like Big Data, I weigh 15 stone 2.8 pounds and have a BMI of 31. The charitable might see me as well-covered or a bit stout. I’m still a danger to the public purse, but I’m down from a rather more portly 17 stone 4 pounds, at which point I was categorised as “severely obese”. My blood pressure is now that of a spring chicken and I don’t fall asleep in the daytime.
Mo is shorter than me, but he weighs only 9 stone 2, which gives him a BMI of 21.3. This is bang in the middle of the “normal” range of BMIs rather than, as one might have thought by comparing him with the average man in the street, a bit on the lean side. Mo’s physique is, apparently, the gold standard “normal” we should all be aiming for. I doubt I’ll ever get there. “Overweight” seems like a reasonable ambition for me with its “everyday people’s” BMIs ranging from 25 to 30.
Mo and me? Well, I think one of us is normal and one is a super-star, but I’ll be back out tomorrow morning.