Three months ago I thought I was moderately fit and carrying a few pounds so when an advert offering a free personal training session was posted at the gym in my City of London office building I thought it might be worth seeing if I could get a little fitter.
At 48 and with a lifetime of football and running behind me I thought that it would be a case of a bit of focus and a bit more resolve to avoid the lunchtime drinking which is part and parcel of working life in the Square Mile and that would be it. However, having booked the session I went down to the gym to meet with Personal Trainer Hugh Brown.
After a few questions on medical history and past exercise Hugh then took my blood pressure. Now I have to say I had had a pretty stressful week but Hugh immediately said he would not be training me that day and that I needed to see a doctor and quickly.
I headed straight off to the doctors to find my blood pressure was at extremely dangerous levels. My issues were complicated by a family history of high blood pressure and a bout of septic arthritis three years ago which can impact on the heart muscles (Christopher Columbus is said to have been killed by damage to his heart from such an attack).
After being told that I needed to loose weight and quickly I was placed on an ACE inhibitor and told to come back in six weeks so the doctor could see if the dose was high enough. I had six weeks to sort myself out and after a further consultation with Hugh I started an exercise programmes designed to shift the bulk.
Every session saw me strapped with a heart monitor to ensure that what I did was not going to put too much strain on my heart whilst helping to shift the weight coupled with a change in diet and a drastic reduction in alcohol intake.
It was not a case of living like a monk but out went the red meat to be replaced by fish and white meat. Carbs were fine but not too late in the day and the odd glass of wine was ok in moderation.
Using his over two decades of personal training and a career which includes training and boxing to a very high level Hugh showed a great deal of patience as I staggered around the gym in an effort to complete the tasks he set.
The first aim has been to shed the weight while slowly building some muscle and by the time I returned to my doctor I was a stone lighter and my blood pressure was significantly lower.
I am now one stone ten pounds lighter than when I began and my BMI is 25.
It is the start of the journey but one which is now getting interesting so I will update monthly on my progress, along with the advice and the programmes that have turned my life around