Posts Tagged ‘gym’
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?
Something totally unexpected happened at the gym today. Someone I don’t know all that well came up to me and said “I’ve been reading your blog. You’re a really good writer.”
It’s one thing to have a guy stumble up to you drunkenly and slur “you’re fit, mate,” but quite another to be complimented on something which, to be honest is quite an intimate part of you.
And at the gym of all places! He works in publishing, though, and is one of the very few non-Brazilians there – most of whom think ‘reading’ consists of trying to pick out their friends in amongst the headless torso shots in the back of QX – so I shouldn’t have been all that surprised.
But for a second I didn’t know what to say. I was gobsmacked and flattered.
Someone asked me once to sign a copy of an advert I was featured in as a model.
I couldn’t do it. I’m ashamed to say I cringed.
I didn’t ‘make’ my face. It didn’t require any skill or talent; in fact it was all down to my parents. So I find it hard to accept compliments for just sitting in front of a camera and looking a bit moody for a few hours.
“Tell you what, when I’m a published writer, I’ll sign an article or a book for you.” I said.
And it was true. I’d rather be complimented for a skill or talent than the way my face got put together about thirty-one years ago in my mother’s belly.
Does that make me ungrateful for the way I look? No. I’m eternally grateful that I don’t make small children cry. Especially as I’ve got a six year old boy running around the house (more about that later). But a compliment about something I’ve developed and practiced and regularly put out there for criticism, means far more than an appreciative glance from someone in a bar or changing room.
I write for a living. I know how to craft an attention-grabbing headline, I know that when putting marketing copy together you should always reiterate the intention of the article in the first and second paragraphs. I know about AIDCA. I know how to write for the web, I know when to use ‘that’ and when to use ‘which’ and I know all about SEO, keywords and metadata.
But when I write my blog, all that goes out the window. I don’t care about my Google ranking, I don’t care about structure – I rarely edit. I don’t even mind if I don’t get any page views on the article.
I just write for me. It’s such a joy to have the freedom to write without all those restrictions. So wonderful to put pen to paper and just write what’s in my heart.
So, am I a good writer? Some would say no, some might say yes. But if you’re still here, then I guess I’ve done an OK job this time.
Thanks for reading.
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.