I finally got a copy of the August 2017 issue of Men’s Running magazine in which there is an article entitled ‘Outrunning Obesity’.
The morning I got my copy I was at Glasgow airport on an early flight down to London.
So I’m sat in the BA lounge, drinking my herbal tea as I read the stories of the 4 other guys featured alongside myself.
And tears roll down my face. Not just one or two, but full on streams.
The sadness is overwhelming that there are others who, like me, had reached ‘middle age’ or relatively close to it and had reached breaking point so significant that it forced radical changes in lifestyle and fitness.
Fantastic that all had made major changes for the better but how sad that it was needed.
The facts are that suicide rates amongst middle aged men are increasing.
The recent global financial recession will have placed additional pressure on the [perceived] bread winner for the family.
Whilst we strive for gender equality and the old fashioned man/woman roles are being watered down, there is still an element of intrinsic drive within many men to be the provider and protector for their family.
So much so they will sacrifice their own health and happiness to ensure their family does not go without.
And where does that lead us? We actually become part of the problem and less effective at achieving our desired goal.
Relationships fall apart, self esteem is stripped away, an ever increasing sense of failure sweeps over us and one day, we look in the mirror and despise what we have become.
Slaves to our corporate masters, giving our time, minds, bodies and souls to those who dangle the purse that we need to provide for our loved ones.
We spend more and more time chasing that purse, giving more of our self and in turn devaluing our contribution as our equivalent hourly rate plummets below the national minimum wage.
And we convince ourselves we are doing the right thing.
Until THAT day. Someone says something about how unwell or unhealthy we look. Or a photo is taken that shows the layers of fat gathering around our waistlines and chins. Or we finally cannot squeeze into our clothes and have no money for new ones. Worse still could be a dramatic health scare brought about from the lifestyle we are leading.
Then, we realise we have lost ourselves for no gain. For some, they also lose their family and relationships as the self loathing becomes destructive.
At this point decisions are needed. Some turn to alcohol or drugs, others blindly carry on their path and for some, an opportunity to change direction appears.
But for me, even Type 2 diabetes wasn’t a big enough reason. It was the perceived threat of losing my family that triggered a need for change.
Hell its scary. For someone so low on self confidence and belief to try something new is hard. But that’s where support networks come into play. Those Good Samaritans who care not about what’s in it for them but what they can do for others.
The 5 of us featured in this article are the lucky ones. Yes, we’re all a little extreme as we take it further than most. I have not met the individuals and cannot comment (nor would I) on their personalities but I know that I am one who when I set my sights on something will give it my all.
So in that way I have replaced an unhealthy addiction to work and martyrism with one of Health and fitness.
Running was something I could do on my own or with others. I needed very little, just some shorts, shoes, shirt and socks. I didn’t need tell anyone, enrol at a club or pay membership.
I was lucky. My family stuck around me and helped me. It was my wife that found my support mechanism that has propelled me forward and given me some confidence and belief in myself back.
And now I want to take that forward and help others. I want to share stories of those who have walked into that dark endless tunnel but come out the other side. Because it always seems impossible until it is done.
Walking on the moon, the 4minute mile, motorised transport, fire!
So if you are reading this and can identify with some of the sentiments, or if you know someone who is feeling the same way, don’t despair.
It just takes a step in a different direction and there are always people around to help. And if there isn’t, then give me a shout!