When I left university, my first job was working at a local company in Norwich that specialised in building, selling and repairing PCs. I learnt to build a PC from scratch – installing the motherboard, CPU, RAM, hard drives and CD-ROM drives and how to diagnose problems with existing systems. But the overall goal was to set-up a local Norwich dial-up ISP and offer other services such as web design and hosting. Thanks to having some experience with Linux, I got the job of running the ISP. I did the lot: building servers, running them, writing software for dial-up set-ups, providing technical support and finally web design for clients.

Norwich’s third ISP, Albatross Networks Ltd.

At the time (this was around 1996/1997), there were a few big national ISPs. Demon Internet was one of them. It was a techie’s dream ISP in many ways – it offered unfettered access to Usenet, gave you a static IP for free, provided a comprehensive internet web/email client (Turnpike) and a subdomain of your own choosing in which you could use to receive email to as many email addresses as possible.

For example, if you had a username of wibbler, your hostname would be wibbler.demon.co.uk. You could have [email protected], and you’d be able to use Turnpike or some other third party email program to filter incoming mail. This was all before spamming and phishing became a real problem.

Albatross’ front page. Which I designed. Badly. Hey – computers had much lower resolutions in those days, and you wouldn’t have seen that overlap! 😉

I implemented a similar system at Albatross (no static IPs though). Demon was the ISP that I wanted to emulate. And as of today, Demon Internet has been given its death sentence by current owners, Vodafone. RIP, Demon.

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!