The following blog was written on Thursday 10th Jan 2013 on my flight home, since then I have managed to train hard three times, I could not wait. On Saturday whilst I played on the old pc and read my novel, my wife was watching Embarrasing Bodies, a repulsive programme at best, gratuitous voyeurism I think, I kept having a peek as you do. There were some alarmingly obese people on these many of whom were seeking medical assistance, operations to get rid of their fat, the quick fix, no effort on their part. Most, not all had led sedentary lifestyles and some were clearly gluttens, fast food freaks who either through negligence or ignorance are attacking their own bodies. Sorry but it is true, tough love. It kind of chimed with my observations on holiday and prior to that that the warnings of obesity reaching epidemic proportions are not as alarmist as most people think. We are on the road to troubled times Oby City is just around the corner. Well here is last Thursdays blog.

Well hello there, long time no blog. There have been umpteen little things, and a few big ones, getting in the way of me writing in the last few months culminating in a very busy Christmas, growing family, and the small matter of two fantastically sunny weeks in Lanzarotte with my wife. It has been idyllic this winter break with long sunny days a good 2 hours longer than in the UK and the the most glorious sunsets. Last night we sat on the harbour wall in Playa Blanca watching the scant clouds glowing red from the sun already set behind the horizon as the small waves lapped on the rocks below us. I will tell you a little more about our holiday in a while, We are currently sat in our aircraft making its way back to blighty and in the last couple of days the increasing heat of the Canarian sun has set this young fellas, in my head, rising as I think of training starting again with a vengeance.

Like most people our club ceases training mid December and starts again a week after the new year, I have noted the comments of friends on Facebook that people are getting started again and many of the hardcore were cursing the lack of a training fix. I feel the same, I think next year I will organise something to run up to Christmas, maybe with appropriately festive costumes, who knows. Whilst on holiday I have not been lazy, last year in Mexico I hit the gym and the free weights everyday, this year the gym at our hotel, the free one had disappeared and to access the new one was 5 euros an hour and yes I am a Yorkshireman and it was machine orientated, a few free weights but virtually no room to use them, so it was plan B.

Plan B fell back on what we had come to Playa Blanca for, to walk its beautiful seafront, you can walk for several miles only crossing one small road that serves the ferry to the lovely Rubicon Marina, or alternatively take the shorter walk to the lighthouse, for a dash of excitement you could climb the redundant volcano that sits like a great red sentinel overlooking our hotel, the Rubicon Palace. Well plan B day one, the Marina and back after breakfast, just three hours there and back including a stop for the wife to have a coffee, myself having taught my body to endure hardship needed no refreshment outside of our all-inclusive retreat.

It was a gorgeous walk, clear blue skies and increasingly hot sunshine saw us plod our way there and plod our way back, not racing but not dawdling either. We can walk for hours like this hardly saying a word to each other but enjoying our time together and enjoying this lovely, tasteful resort, this is our 6th visit and my wifes 7th. It was a grand walk, we really enjoyed it until almost back at the Rubicon when my wife mentioned her feet feeling a bit sore, then mentioned them again, then checking noticed a couple of blisters so she popped into the shop for some plasters. This was the start on what was to become a run on plasters for the next 2 weeks. Had I known then what I know now I should have bought shares in the plaster manufacturer. Oh dear.

Well on the flight home the blisters are healing but not gone, the walks did not end but were more relaxed, my dear wife bravely carried on with our daily walks but they were not the mile eating yomps we are used to. However, my exercise fix still needed addressing and I turned in the direction of the pool. Now, the Rubicon possesses a number of pools of which the main one is a beauty, it is one of the biggest I have seen, it is a bigun missis, a monster, one of the biggest I have seen. This was our 5th time at the Rubicon and we know this pool well, it is salt water with a consistently even temperature throughout the year that registers just short of freezing. It is one of the few complaints that the first timers have BUT there are other pools, not as big but still very nice and a bit warmer. However, we like the big cold pool as we get it virtually to ourselves. So everyday around 12.30 we would saunter from our balcony. A huge south-facing balcony with reclining chairs were we sat read and snoozed our days away when not eating, and once through the seal colony the was the sun bed area surrounding the pool, we would chuck our towels on an empty bed and get straight into the swim of it, literally.

The pool is great if you get straight in, no messing in under and start swimming heading down the length of the pool whilst a few people raise their heads from their sun beds and quietly question your, our, sanity. After about 20 strokes the shock of the cold on our sun warmed bodies went away and we set into our rhythm, we are no Olympians, we swim for the pleasure of it and for the exercise, the pool is about 80 metres long and we, well I, did 10 lengths for about 35 minutes or so, steady strokes trying not to count, almost impossible, steady breathing with breaststroke there, backstroke back. I have not enjoyed swimming this much for years and it was nice to feel the whole body working as I pushed through the water. It felt even better to step out of the water at the end and feel how good my chest and arms felt as I padded myself dry letting the sun do its job on what the towel missed, then it was a short plod through the seal colony to the poolside bar for a cool glass of tonic. Honest.

OK, I have mentioned seal colony twice now and that is where this blog is heading on a kind of safari to view our own species at leisure in our hotel and our resort. I think it was the fact that numerous people commented on our swimming as if it was a holidaymakers alternative to wearing a hair shirt or flagellating oneself with a cat-o-nine. We shared lots of jokes and laughs with a some people especially those who at least gave the pool a try, I think we became a bit of a novelty act for some, a kind of relief from their Daily Mail or Express. I genuine think most people could nt equate what we were doing with pleasure, hard work yes, pleasure no. But that is what those lengths were to us and to me in particular, the opportunity to work my body and make it feel good and let me tell you by the end of the two weeks it felt very good indeed and excellent preparation for getting back in the dojo on Saturday next for a really tough session, preceded by a good hour on the free weights on Friday.

As I swam up and down that pool I focussed, when not counting strokes, on thinking about my training and thought up some new, really tough drills we will be trying, harder stuff than we have done before and I can see a really great three four months training ahead of me as we work our way into the new year. I made no resolutions on New Years Eve or after other than to continue to be the best I can, to remain fit and strong mentally and physically as long as possible. I read 5 novels and started a sixth last night. One is the Arthur trilogy by Bernard Cornwell and is full of fearsome warriors set when men were men and the shieldwall was the proving ground. To survive the shield wall made a warrior of a man, made a man of a boy as well. Whilst I stop short of the warrior fantasy I still feel the need to train and be ready should violence come to call, being physically fit and strong and mentally prepared is part of my core, it is not some app we bolt on so even during the rest of our holiday, exercise is central for me. Now for the safari.

As we proceed from our swim full of joy de vivre we walk amongst slumbering bodies of every shape and size reclining, sitting, reading, chatting and drinking, doing what they like best on a holiday and I have no criticism of that. However, amongst this host of sun worshippers, and I am one of those too, it is a pagan thing after all buried deep in our psyche, lay huge bests of incredible weight and size stressing their sun beds frame by simply being on it. Great obese men and women in increasing numbers who can barely waddle over to collect more lager or replenish their plate of chips and burger, so vast are some of these creatures I cannot see how their backsides fit in an aircraft seat. OK here is a confession, I too am obese.

Technically, I cannot think what my number is but it is close to morbidly obese too. My youngest daughter likes to tease me with this mischievously. I am 5’10” and 15.5 stones, my waste is 34” and my chest 46”, muscle weighs more than fat. I am not obese but it is what a simplistic reading od height and weight tell. However, looking at some of my fellow holiday makers was like seeing a visual representations of the warning we keep receiving about our nations health, or increasing unhealthy as the case may be. The book ‘Men are from Mars and Women from Venus’ has apparently helped many people understand the difference between men and women so I am told. Maybe somebody will write one on the difference between those of us who value exercise, fitness and our health and those who do not. I do not want to be rude to our overweight fellow humans but I cannot understand them, I know the dangerous flip side of obesity is bulimia and other eating disorders, but surely there comes a time when it gets harder and harder to buy clothes, when walking to the bar makes you sweat or when getting on and off your sunbed id a Herculean task that you should start to question what you are doing to yourselves.

Ok I am not that ignorant that I do not understand the role of external forces on the individual, advertising, fast food, activities that require no physical effort but these forces target us all in the same way as we can all go to the gym, the swimming baths or the dojo. However, as the smell of chips wafts through the aircraft, we all make our own choices, it is like the tree little pigs, the lazy pig makes his house of straw, his industrious brother builds a time and labour expensive house of bricks and we know the moral of that story. BUT back to the safari as we enter the dining room, well it is what you would expect, you can almost always predict what is going on each persons plate, who is loading up on salad and freshly cooked fish (me) and who is hammering the chips and burgers???  As for the pudding section only the brave venture there. Throughout this holiday and on previous ones and at home I see the growth of this disease and it really worries me on one level,  I have helped several times on a project aimed at helping obese kids, it is a sorry sight and having seen some kids waddling round on this holiday I tend to see it as a form of abuse under the heading of neglect, neglecting to provide your child with a healthy lifestyle.

There were whole families with a range of weight issues, they need intervention if they cannot take the initiative themselves. I read something the other day about cutting or withdrawing benefits for obese people for whom their obesity prevents them working, well I am all for this. It is time to take of the velvet glove for the sake of the greater good, \(hot \fuzz anyone) and stop pandering, no more big bones or it is my glands excuses, get down the gym or else you are choosing the consequences.

We as martial artists have a role to play here too as enablers, as local authorities take responsibility for NHS preventative care and its attendant budget we should be setting out a case for the long-term physical and mental benefits for participating in a martial art. How about setting up a class specifically for this and gaining GP referrals? Have you ever thought of that. Obese and overweight people will rarely, in the early stages of a corrective programme, want to train alongside the already fit and competent, the contrast is too stark between them and us. However, remove the barriers presented by the them and us situation and they may, just may poke a toe into the dojo, your dojo, ever thought about that?

I may look into this, I will keep you briefed. until then here is a clip of three well post 50 blokes going to daft lengths to prevent becoming armchair athletes, in the woods, in the dark with the first flakes of snow starting to fall, what did you do on Sunday evening just gone?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=j2W1uq5pUIM