Former newsreader, journalist and reality TV barge passenger Michael Buerk has suggested that the NHS could save money by not treating obese people. This is a bit like saying that the NHS shouldn’t be treating drug addicts, smokers, or alcoholism. Or people who cause accidents and end up injured themselves. Or rich people. Or Tories.

(I kid because I care..)

Obesity, while generally associated with overeating and a less active lifestyle, has many causes. Some medical. Others not. Mental health, work (inactive at work due to pressures of deadlines/long hours/long commutes could all lead to poor diets), food prices, injury, etc.

Regardless of whatever the cause – shaming is a terrible thing to do, best left to people who lack empathy for others (alas, empathy treatment is not available on the NHS or private healthcare). The NHS is available for everybody, regardless of whatever the problem may be.

I consider overpopulation, tax dodgers (individuals and corporate), and the likes of Brexit to be a far bigger danger to the NHS than overweight people.

The purpose of life? Allegedly (for us blokes) it’s: grow up, get a job, get married, have kids, become a grandad, retire, and then die peacefully.

I’ve achieved three of those things. Growing up, getting a job and I was once married. I did want kids at some point, though if I am to be honest with myself, my desire to actually have them was maybe a little less than that of my ex-wife. My attitude at the time was that if they turned up, great. If not, it’s not the end of the world (though I was concerned about ending the family lineage and not being able to give my parents grandkids).

My ex-wife really wanted kids, and as soon as we were able to do so, we started trying. Unfortunately there were a number of stumbling blocks, and ultimately we turned to IVF treatment which got us further than we had ever been. But disaster struck there too, and I nearly lost her and the baby as a result of complications.

But even this didn’t hold us back – we tried to adopt internationally (there are many reasons for doing so versus domestic adoption, one reason being the age of the child being adopted, which for for first time parents, matters a great deal), but the cost was substantial and even with our salaries, it was prohibitively expensive.

In the end we went our separate ways. It wasn’t just about having children, but there were a number of other factors too. I felt that maybe I had rushed things a little too much – I practically proposed to her a day or two after meeting her. I’m not known for my patience, it must be said.

Being single again for the past 5 years since the divorce, dating has been challenging. I’ve found that many women around my age on dating sites have already had families. One or two children. Either separated or divorced. Fewer women have no ties. And every time I’ve joined these dating sites I’ve always wondered about the question: “Do you want children?” I don’t think it’s an easy question to answer.

What really brought my around to being a dad was volunteering at an NGO in Beijing, China, around 2008, helping orphaned children heal. A young girl of around 5 or 6 came up to me and latched on. We played for a good while, and I noticed that on a couple of occasions she would bite me. Apparently this was common among children in this situation and was an attachment issue. But I didn’t mind. I really took to her, and her to me. Saying goodbye was extremely difficult, and thinking about it now brings me to tears. But the good news, and what’s makes my heart glad, is that she was adopted by a lovely American family. As far as I know, she is doing extremely well in that environment. But I cannot help but think she could have been with me and my ex-wife.

And this is why I’m very pro-adoption. If I were to date a woman that already has children, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But would I biologically want my own? I still don’t know. I really don’t. Given the madness that’s going on in the world at the moment, I’m not sure I’d want to introduce a new born baby into the insanity that is Brexit, Trump or Putin (and the rest).

Having read about birthstrikers, it makes me think that perhaps not having children of my own helps my own community and even the whole planet. By assimilating into somebody else’s family seems a more sensible thing to do. You may not necessarily seen to be THE dad to those children, but at least you’d be A dad (though secretly you’d want to be the former).

Life goes on. I’ve no a clue what’s going to happen in the next 5-10 years. I may meet someone. I may not. Work keeps me extremely busy most of the time (with a possible detriment to my social life – I take work extremely seriously and if I were to lose my job, there goes the house and everything I’ve worked hard to achieve). But I do know I need to put myself more out there. I had a considered adopting a dog. But that’d go down well with my neighbours who also have dogs. I couldn’t leave a dog at home alone even if they have enough stimulus to keep them busy.

In any event, the answer to life, the universe and everything remains 42.

It’s almost everybody’s New Year resolution to get fit. Stay off the booze, eat more healthily, etc. etc. But in my case, it’s truly a resolution that I intend to keep.

For most of my adult life I’ve always been quite “bulky”, but over the past few years I’ve been putting on the pounds. And it has been worrying me.

The good old days when I used to speed walk to Woking (3 miles)

This wasn’t always the way. When I was working for my last employer, they very kindly provided an electric pushbike that I used extensively during the time we were based in Guildford. I lost a lot of weight and was much slimmer than I am now – and before that too.

2018. Scruffy fat git.

But in the remaining year or so at my last employer, and the first year and a half at my current employer, I must admit I haven’t been looking after myself as much as I should be doing. Though the weight hasn’t been that much of a change, I have gone up several sizes in T-shirts and trousers.

So towards the end of last year, a work colleague prompted me (and others) to start getting into shape. We started a 5K club. The 5K being steps, not mileage. The aim is to walk at least 5k steps at lunchtime – preferably at a fast pace. We had a couple of sessions and I must admit I found it a bit of struggle at first.

So this prompted to make additional changes – I’ve completely cut out soda. I’ve been a long term drinker of Diet Coke and Pepsi Max. Rarely drunk tea. Drunk lots of Starbucks and Costa Coffee daily. I gave up regular coffee shop drinking long ago (when I added up how much I was spending!), though I will admit to having one or two very infrequently. I now stick with tea, regular shop bought coffee (and even then, it’s occasional), and water. Fizzy spring water is acting as a go-between while I readjust to non-sparking spring water.

As the work 5K club has gone on, we’re supporting each other more. Another work colleague has recommended Berocca (or the Boots equivalent, Revive) which provides a bit of an energy boost as well as providing vitamins and minerals. It comes in tablet form and dissoves into water. So I’ve had that every day for a week now. I also take cod liver oil tablets and Glucosamine Sulphate for joints.

This along with walking up a steep hill every day, along with getting out and about more has really been helping. I’ve been feeling great over the past few days and hope to keep it up. In terms of meals, I’ve cut potatoes out as much as possible and have increased things like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and green beans. I’ve also added baked beans into my diet more too. I have two meat dishes per week, with the rest of the meals using meat substitutes. I also have rice, often from an Uncle Ben’s packet. Breakfast is usually Chocolate Shreddies (yes, I know) and lunch is home made sandwiches (ham, roast chicken, Quorn chicken slices or similar) along with a couple of satsumas for deserts.

This is quite the far cry from takeaways of the past (one of the 5K club members has had similar experiences). On-call is such that it isn’t too much of a problem anymore. I work from home one day a week.

I monitor my progress through my Apple Watch series 4 watch which records the steps and calories. My Withings Body smart scales record weight and send it through to Apple Health so I have a complete record of activity throughout the day.

Hopefully we’ll start to see improvements over the next few weeks and months. My colleague has already said that she’s seen an improvement in me since we started, so I must be doing something right! I’m aiming to get a pedal exerciser or even an exercise bike so that I can do some workouts at home (and at work – pedal exercisers are cheap and portable).

At the age of 42, staying fit and healthy is now a priority if I’m likely to see 43, 44, 45, 46 and so on. I can only see now that it doesn’t have to be terrible – and having a support network around you only boosts and helps you get better at it.

Here’s to a healthier 2019!