If you’d have told me fifteen years ago that I would one day be competing in marathons and ultra marathons, I’d have carefully put my pint and cigarette down and laughed in your face. So would all of my friends in fact.
That’s because at that point in time I had no inclination towards sport and fitness. Absolutely nothing. I was a bit overweight, I was a bit unfit and if anyone spoke to me about exercise I’d probably just glaze over and nod. If by the age of 25 I wasn’t into fitness, I sure as hell wasn’t likely to find a reason to get into it.
25 to a 25-year-old seems like a pretty old age. You’ve got your friends, you know what you like, you know what you want to do with your spare time. Why would you change any of that? Fitness was one of those life choices you make at an early age, like being into comic books or supporting a football team. I was never into it before and I didn’t really want to start getting into it.
Life’s a funny thing though. No matter how concrete or clear it seems to be at any point, it can change very quickly. Sometimes because of things out of your control and sometimes, because you just turn into someone different.
The reason I’m telling you this is that I felt that change happening fifteen years ago. I remember things in my head changing and not quite knowing how to explain it. But I could sense it was there. Suddenly my outlook on life changed. Suddenly I started to do things that weren’t like me at all. I started to drink a lot less, I stopped smoking and, the thing that really made me different, I started to do exercise.
And because I sensed this was happening, that something important was going on in my life, I did something that I’d never done before. I wrote a diary about it all. Perhaps because I couldn’t remember a time in my life where a significant change was happening, perhaps because I just fancied doing something different. I don’t know. But I wrote one anyway. I still do in fact.
These are excerpts from my diary. I won’t post them all, because frankly most them even bore me. But some I read back to myself and smile. Not just because they bring back memories, but because now, in hindsight, I can see them as gradual building blocks from the person I was then, to who I am now. Maybe they won’t have the same gravitas for you as they do for me, but that doesn’t matter. Hopefully though, just a bit, you may see elements of the journey that you’ve either been through, are going through or, and this is the one that would really make me smile, are thinking about starting.
Anyway, less of me rambling. More random diary entries from a much younger me. Enjoy. Oh yeah, they’re also unedited, so please excuse any dodgy stylistic inconsistencies.
January 3rd – 2003
I can honestly say that was the most I’ve ever drank in a two month period. Even at Uni. Yes it was Christmas, but even then I was really pushing the boat out. Think I must have put on at least a stone in the last few months. Not feeling particularly good either. Definitely got some sort of cold, seem to be getting them a lot lately actually.
Decided it’s time to make some changes. Going to have to pack in the smoking. I know I’ve said it before but it’s making me feel rough as hell every morning and mum wouldn’t shut up about me coughing all the time. Kind of seeing her point actually. Everyone else seems to be stopping anyway so I may as well.
So the plan is: Stop smoking, join a gym and lose weight. Starting from tomorrow. I also haven’t got any money so I probably don’t have much of a choice anyway for the time being. Means I’ll have to find a cheap gym.
Mum bought me that Allen Carr stop smoking book for Christmas, but she bought me the wrong one. Got the autobiography instead of the actual one I asked her for. Will buy that on the way home today.
Already told someone at work and he said I’ll never stick to my resolutions, nobody ever does. Told him they’re not resolutions. I’m just changing some things. He laughed and went out for a cigarette. I told him I wasn’t going for one then I threw my pack away.
Going to buy some of those electric cigarettes as well. Probably rubbish but I may as well give them a go.
February 5th – 2003
Probably a good thing that I’ve had no money for a month as it’s stopped me going out to the pub with workmates. I’ve pretty much been eating Boots meal deals every lunchtime. Worked out that I can get a smoothie, a salad and a yoghurt for £3.50. Pretty good considering I was spending about £7 at the deli next door to work.
Started to make myself big vats of food on a Sunday night and then sticking it into five Tupperware containers to put in the freezer. This week I’m on Spaghetti Bolognese. Makes life a lot easier when I get home. Brown rice and pasta as well, not as nice but it’ll do.
Joined the local leisure centre gym down the road in Leyton. Not as cheap as I’d hoped at £35 but at least I’ve got no excuse not to go. My mate David gave me some workouts to do (he’s obsessed with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s training), think I pretty much know how to use everything in there now. Definitely feel like it’s working a bit.
Bought myself some new Nike trainers from the cheap shoe shop on the high street, only cost me £15 and they seem pretty good, I think they’re proper running ones. Started running once a week when I get home as work have signed a load of us up to a 5k in a couple of months time at Regent’s Park. I’ve been doing about 3km around Wanstead flats. Actually finding it easier than I thought I would.
Still managing not to smoke by using the electric cigarettes. Think I actually prefer them. Doesn’t seem to be working out much cheaper though and it’s a bit annoying to keep having to charge the damn things. Not sure how good they’ll be if I ended getting drunk as well.