Posts Tagged ‘exercise’
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’ve got a fantastic bunch of friends, and we love each other dearly.
So when, one of our group, Lisa, discovered she had thyroid cancer earlier this year, it hit us all like a warp-speed bowling ball at an unsuspecting stack of pins.
Lisa treats her body like a temple. She’s a fitness addict and personal trainer, who spends most of her life in the gym, whether it’s training herself or helping others achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Lisa and my other friend James had got together and decided to launch a fundraising campaign for Children with Leukaemia — planning to run both the London Marathon in April and the New York Marathon in November. At the time of the London one, they’d raised a staggering £3000.
Lisa had found a lump in her neck in February and was in the middle of a barrage of blood tests and biopsies to find out the cause. But being the trooper she is, she pushed it to the back of her mind as she went into her final phase of training for the event, which she finished in a very respectable 4h 59m.
Here she is, fresh as a daisy at about mile 20:
Four weeks later, she was in hospital having the right side of her thyroid taken out — her biopsies had detected abnormal cells.
The irony was worthy of an Alanis Morissette lyric. She’d run the Marathon to raise money for cancer — with cancer.
To say this was a smack in the face is an understatement. Lisa dedicates her life to the pursuit of fitness and health, both in herself and in others. Can you imagine how it feels to have the body you’ve worked so hard to take care of and keep healthy, suddenly go renegade on you? It’s like the ultimate betrayal.
Lisa’s also self-employed, and couldn’t work for her entire recovery period — ergo, the cancer screwed not only her health, but her income as well.
And it didn’t stop there. Six weeks after her first operation, she was back in again to have the other side of her thyroid removed, after the tissue from the first op showed not one, but two different types of cancer. Six weeks after this, she underwent a week’s worth of radiotherapy treatment at the Royal Marsden, during which none of us could visit her. She also had to isolate herself for nearly a week after she was discharged, while the radioactive isotopes broke down enough to let her have human contact again.
A while ago I wrote about the reality of having HIV. I was with Lisa for most of her hospital appointments, and suddenly found out what it must have been like for my friends and family when I was diagnosed.
Here I was, shoe firmly on the other foot, being slapped around the chops by the harsh realities of cancer. This time it was me watching a friend go through something awful and knowing I could do fuck all to change the situation.
The people from Macmillan Cancer Support have been there for Lisa throughout, giving invaluable advice and support, and even arranging money to help cover the rent she could barely afford while she wasn’t working. In short — they’ve been a godsend.
Despite her (and our) joy that she’s finally in the clear, Lisa’s gutted she’s not able to run the NYC marathon. The hospital’s said it would be silly to put her body through a gruelling training programme and a 26.3 mile run when it’s still recovering from such an ordeal.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way. James is still running in New York, and is continuing to raise money for Children with Leukaemia. And swooping in to run in Lisa’s place is our dear friend Simon. He’s like the proverbial knight in shining armour (or in his case, glittering spandex *sniggers* *ducks*).
Not content with completing Berlin Marathon just a few short weeks ago, he’s decided to also run NYC for Macmillan in a show of support for Lisa, and, as he’s only just taken on the challenge, he’s got a way to go to hit his target.
Now, I’d like to think I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t ask for much. This isn’t one of those blogs that exists solely to flog a product or service, or gain marketing leads. But I’d like to ask something now.
Please sponsor Simon and James. The New York Marathon is less than two weeks away (November 7th). Their links are at the bottom of this post, and even a couple of quid would be brilliant (but save some cash for sponsoring me for London next year!)
Cancer can strike, anytime, anywhere, as my group of friends found out all too easily. People don’t start thinking about things like cancer till we, or someone we love, is staring it in the face. But here’s a little factlet for you: Did you know that around 80% of postmortems reveal active cancer cells? Food for thought, no?
It’s charities like Macmillan and Children With Leukaemia that help people survive not just the physical, but the mental impact of the disease.
So next time you see someone huffing and puffing their way around the park, take a second to consider why they’re putting themselves through it. In most cases — as well as trying to better their distances or time — they’re probably also facing another challenge of raising £2k or some other massive amount for a worthwhile cause.
And as James said to me at the weekend: “Every time we runners get an email through saying we’ve been sponsored — even if it’s just a few quid — it feels like it’s all worthwhile. When you’re doing a 15 mile run in the freezing cold after a hard day at work, it’s so motivating and heartwarming.”
So come on, people, let’s all dig out a few quid to support those who are running for other people’s lives, eh?
This is what I learned on holiday in Ibiza:
- I’m never again flying from Stansted…
…and the same goes for flying with Ryanair.
- Getting a tan may be bad for the skin…
…but it’s incredibly good for the soul.
- My friends are even more fantastic than I realised…
…and my best friend knows me frighteningly well.
- A jetski is guaranteed to make you look cool…
…and even falling off one is fun.
- Most of the island’s public toilets have run out of soap…
…and the hand dryers are all broken too.
- Mixing beer, mojitos, caramel vodka shots and gin is a tremendously bad idea after six months off booze…
…and smoking on top of it doesn’t help the situation.
- I never used to get knackered after five minutes of dancing…
…and my stomach never used to wobble either.
- The film ‘I, Robot’ in Spanish translates as ‘Yo, Robot’…
…and this makes me laugh like a seal.
- Laughing can make you forget you’re hurting…
…even if it’s only for a few seconds.
- I learned that saying goodbye always hurts like hell…
…but even more so when it’s your decision.
- And that I don’t know what’s worse — only having part of someone…
…or not having them at all.
- That sometimes you shouldn’t dare to hope…
…because it can be as destructive as despair.
- And when you’re missing the person you love…
…there’s little difference between one mile and a thousand.
- That you can run as far as you like from a broken heart…
…but eventually you have to return and try to mend it.
- And even though I didn’t want to come back…
…it’s also really nice to be home.
I’m about to embark on one of the most difficult journeys I’ve ever made.
Here I go.
I’m giving up alcohol in the new year.
There. It’s out. It’s public. No going back.
There are a couple of reasons behind my decision.
Reason number one: I simply want to see if I can do it. After all, it’s a big old challenge. Booze is the lubricant that greases the wheels of new friendships, flirting and one night stands. How different will life be without that crutch to fall back on?
Reason number two: I desperately want to give up smoking.
My problem with smoking and drinking is that as soon as I get even a whiff of an alcoholic substance, I’m overcome with the craving to stick a fag in my gob and puff away.
This would be fine if I could limit myself to social smoking, but for me, it’s all or nothing. It starts with accepting every social invitation I get just so I have an excuse to smoke. Then before long, it’s crept back into my daily routine like bindweed in an untended garden.
Reason number three: As I hurtle further along the road of thirtysomething-ness, the effects of too much beer and wine tend to hang around a lot longer than a simple next-day hangover. Namely on my belly.
Having spent my entire twenties being the envy of my friends because I had abs you could bounce a fifty pence piece off of, this is, as you can imagine, somewhat horrifying.
So all in all, a couple of really good reasons to ban the booze.
So why does the thought of a life without alcohol strike utter terror into my heart?
Far from it being socially acceptable to be teetotal, most people look at you like you’ve grown an extra head when you ask for a soft drink instead of a beer.
Having just spent Christmas on antibiotics and therefore tipple-free, I found myself getting mildly irritated as my family and friends slowly became louder and gigglier as the day wore on. I felt like I was on a different wavelength.
And what is this going to do for my sex life? No longer will I have the ‘confidence’ to walk up to fit boys in bars and devastate them with (what I believe to be) my witty repartee.
Am I going to become *gasp* boring?
Before I go and hurl myself into the Thames, let’s look at the positives:
- I’m going to lose my rapidly expanding beer belly
- I might make it to the gym on a Saturday morning for once
- I might actually kick the fags for good
- I’m going to be a hell of a lot healthier (see points 2 and 3)
- I won’t waste my weekends dying on the sofa with a hangover
- I’ll stop snogging guys I wouldn’t fancy in a million years if I was sober
- I won’t wake up in a strange bed and recoil in horror at the person lying next to me
- I might actually make it through a party without creeping off to a bedroom somewhere to crash out for an hour
- I can laugh at my friends when they get into a state and remind them of what they did when I see them the next day
Hmm, this is actually looking a lot better than it did a few minutes ago.
So I guess mine’s an orange juice.
Well, for a while, anyway…
Recently I went on holiday to Madrid, and like any self-respecting gayer, I hit the gym with a vengeance beforehand, and strutted my way to Heathrow Airport with shoulders that looked a little like I had cannonballs stuffed in them and tits that, in my opinion, gave Jordan a run for her money.
OK, so that’s not strictly true, but man did I feel confident. Months of hard labour and comments from friends about my newly-bulging biceps had left me feeling like I could more than hold my own against the muscle boys of Madrid.
On the first day at the Lido I realised what the phrase “body beautiful” really meant.
Everywhere I looked I saw perfection. Beautiful, bronzed, speedo-wearing perfection.
You know that scene in Spider-man where Peter Parker comes home after being bitten by the little radioactive bastard in the lab? He rips off his shirt to reveal a puny, skinny body before he passes out on the floor, then wakes up the next morning with pumped up pecs and a six pack. All of a sudden he’s a new man.
Now imagine that scene in reverse and you get an idea of how I was feeling as I stood at the entrance to the Lido. I spent most of the first day lying on my front, drilling a hole into the concrete from my stonking boner and trying to cover up my sorry excuse for a beach body.
You have to put in a lot of hard work into achieving a body like those guys had, unless you take the easy option and use steroids. But what happens when you take it too far?
I used to know a guy who was addicted to exercise. We’re not friends any more – I couldn’t put up with him to be honest. He ran every morning, swam every lunchtime and went to the gym for an hour every evening, usually with a spinning class after that. He used to turn down dates and offers of socialising with us so he could train more.
I would have felt sorry for him if he hadn’t spent most of the time he wasn’t training loudly putting other people down when they were slightly overweight or less attractive than him.
As well as the obvious dangers of steroids, I’ve also read reports of guys taking a powerful stimulant called Epehdrine before they work out so they can train harder. I’ve noticed a few people in the gym who seem anxious or jittery and often wonder if they’re on it. I also know for a fact that Ephedrine causes chronic insomnia, so usually they turn to sleeping pills or booze in order to get to sleep.
Now I’m not going to deny that these examples of hard training look amazing, but seriously, if they don’t die of organ failure because of their ridiculously low calorie intake, they’ll probably either get cancer from sunbed abuse, or a heart attack from all the drugs they’re using to help them on their way to the body beautiful.
Is being perfect really worth that?
As the days rolled on by the Lido I got so used to the constant parade of plucked, preened and pumped bodies walking around that they all started to become curiously unsexual. I mean, every single one of them looked the same!
My boyfriend at the time asked me what on earth I saw in him when there were all these Adonises walking around to tempt me.
“I fancy you because you don’t look like one of them” was my reply
Screw the body beautiful. Give me a real human being any day.