Keeping the faith on keeping fit

By Paul Ainsworth

HOW many people reading this column right now can say they are truly ‘healthy’ people? It turns out that if you have been rigorously following the “five-a-day” mantra, you may not be as tip-top as you thought you were.

Be advised that cutting the fags down to ‘five-a-day’ does not count as healthy.

Recent reports show that sneaky manufacturers have been putting the logo advising consumers to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each and every single day of their lives, on any old slop, regardless of whether said slop also contains a Texas worth of fat, and an ocean’s worth of salt.

Yes, now we can find in our local supermarket, frozen sausage and chip ready meals with the laughable suggestion that it counts as a portion of fruit and veg. What next, fizzy Sprite being branded healthy as it’s lemon and lime flavoured? I mean, that’s two different fruits right there, only three more to go.

I consider myself in rude health, and by that I mean it would be rude to consider me truly healthy. God knows I’ve tried, but forcing down five whole portions of fruit and vegetables every day is a struggle that I usually fail. I can barely munch through five portions of any food a day, let alone that food being raw celery sticks, or two-quid-a-pop pomegranates.

Nothing cheers me more than reading about old people who have managed to make it to the 100s, and confessing the secret to their success is a diet of filterless Park Drives and a daily nip of Whiskey, while their wartime diets were powdered pigeon eggs and spam salads. OK, perhaps these remarkable individuals are outnumbered by the thousands upon thousands whose diet of fags, booze and fried grub saw them in a brass-handled pine box before pension age….but don’t let that dash your hopes.

In the meantime I’ve been trying my hand at some healthy, wholesome activities, including jogging. My jogging career lasted all of five minutes, running from Queen’s University to Stranmillis before literally collapsing, and limping home vowing never to move my legs faster than walking speed ever again.

Also during that five minutes which started great and ended in the sensation my lungs were pumping pure napalm, I was busy thinking what a tool I looked to passers by. I didn’t even wear shorts – big mistake in South Belfast, as when someone is spotted running in a pair of tracksuit bottoms, it usually means a Centra has been held up with a Stanley knife.

Throughout the hedonistic 20s, my plan was always to become a super-fit health nut in my 30s, but now that dreaded decade is upon me, the reality is that the healthiest thing I might achieve this year alone is to switch from Snickers Duo to a single bar during my lunch break. It’s a start, and I vow here and now that by the time I’m 40, I’ll be leading exercise classes in Botanic Gardens with scores of nubile young ladies, releasing fitness videos at Christmas with Davina McCall, and embarking on daily jogs to Newry and back before work.

‘Nothing cheers me more than reading about old people who have managed to make it to the 100s, and confessing the secret to their success is a diet of filterless Park Drives and a daily nip of Whiskey, while their wartime diets were powdered pigeon eggs and spam salads.’

Of course, failing that I can rely on our hard-working scientists, who will by that stage have discovered a cure for every gut-rotting, lung-shrivelling, liver-dissolving disease sparked by slovenly, gluttonous living. Let’s just hope it’s available on the NHS, in which case, hook me up doc.

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