Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel.
always hated doctors and Lear was a miserable old man.
Last July I managed a 45 minute lap of Spa. It was one of the quickest
laps that I did all weekend. One of my many eccentricities is that I like
to run around the circuits that I race at. I do it partly to have a look
at the size of the curbs and to take in the track surface changes. One
of the items of interest at Spa was the green stuff that is laid on the
outside of some of the corners. As far as I could estimate it was carpet
or at least as material no further than second cousin from carpet. I made
a mental note that its grip levels were likely to be poor.
Of course the main reason I run is in a forlorn attempt to stay fit.
One of the many things that makes me smile about single seater racing
is seeing the drivers emerge from their cars at the end of a race or practice
session. In our tight Sparcos we are dead ringers for the Mark Webbers
and Jenson Buttons in Formula 1. The mass of grey hair (or in my case
the absence of hair) on view when we remove our helmets tells the awful
truth. Many of are not in the first flush of our youth.
With this in mind I thought I would share with you some of my health
secrets. If you follow them then you too can be as slow as me. I will
first suggest what I believe to be the most healthy way to live and just
to avoid any allegations that I don’t do as I suggest I will admit
what I actually do.
The Most Healthy Way to Live
|What Steve Does
There are very few fatties in sub-Saharan Africa. Once we have
stopped growing we need remarkably little food. In fact we need
far less than most of us want. A good diet of plenty of meat, vegetables
and fruit should be enough for anyone. Some of the most unhealthy
people I know are vegetarians.
|A famous vegetarian's epiphany
SG the truth:- I never (almost) eat potatoes or rice. I stuff myself
with loads of red meat, salads and fruit. I never go a day without
There is a huge amount of b****cks written and spoken about this.
I get very tired of fat people in my clinics telling me at length
about what they don’t eat. Forget Body Max Index. Take your
kit off and stand in front of the mirror, if there are any bits that
are hanging out too far and it isn't your knob then you are overweight.
A very simple test is to measure your waist and your hips. The ratio
should be no more than 1.1 to 1. Ideally your hips should be slightly
wider than your waist. A beer belly is not a badge of honour.
SG the truth:- Waist/hips ratio 0.9. Staying like that is a constant
battle though. My cartoon relative Peter has a rather poor ratio.
I am convinced that some of the inexplicable accidents that occur
during the early morning practice sessions are alcohol related.
If the C of C were to breathalyse the whole paddock at 9am I wonder
how many would fail? Alcohol is wonderful stuff, rather a lot of
calories but has the ability to create great pleasure. For guys
of middle age excess drinking has the tendency to cause heart irregularities
and possibly bring on early Alzheimer’s. Many would suggest
of course that we suffer from premature dementia just for driving
race cars. Alcohol can have other unwelcome effects as discussed
by the porter in Shakespeare’s Scottish play. Famously Enzo
Ferrari encouraged his drivers to drink plenty of Lambrusco with
their lunch when testing at Fioriano. He suggested that they might
be quicker in the afternoon. Probably not a good idea.. Anyway Lambrusco
is for girls. Some of the most miserable people I know are teetotal.
the truth:- A day never goes by without some alcohol. I never get
drunk because I don’t like the feeling and being a heart doctor
I prefer red wine. When John Mortimer was asked about how long he
had taken a glass of Champagne with his breakfast he replied “Ever
since I could afford it…” I'm with JM on that one but
Every Thursday I spend the morning removing peoples’ lung cancers.
It’s a mucky job but someone has to do it. I have considered
applying to BAT and asking if they would like to sponsor a small logo
on my theatre ‘blues’. Perhaps a nice 'Benson and Hedges'
on my theatre cap.... Cigarette smoking is for losers. The best thing
that came from the tobacco industry is that for several decades they
paid for professional motor racing. I remember being at Silverstone
the day before a Grand Prix in the 1980s and being anxious that if
I stayed still for too long somebody would paint a red and white chevron
SG the truth:- Being a gentleman who likes a bit of risk taking behaviour
your scribe enjoys a couple of cigars a week. For many years I have
only smoked Monte Cristo Number 4s but times are hard lately and I
have had to downgrade to Indonesian as the Cubans are getting a bit
pricey. What do I know? I defer to greater men than me on this. Kipling
‘ a woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a Smoke’.
This is where so many of us oldies give up. Next week I will be doing
some stress ECGs for racing licences. In my experience many candidates
find that their legs and feet get knackered before their hearts are
showing any sign of strife. It’s pathetic, they only have to
walk uphill briskly for 9 minutes! For many their idea of a workout
is to change channels on the remote. I suggest that regular exercise
that gets your heart racing and makes you get breathless is needed.
If you are fortunate enough to take that exercise in the horizontal
position than good for you but it needs to be at least three times
a week. Cycling, jogging, rowing are all good aerobic workouts. Weights
are less important as they don’t help the heart much but I suppose
we need that strength for hang on to our tiny steering wheels.
SG the truth:- I either run about 6 K or go to the gym at least three
times per week. At the gym I do mainly aerobic stuff but a few light
weights with lots of ‘reps’. On holidays I try and do
a 10K run once a week, it gives me an excuse to drink more beer and
eat more food during all those extended lunches and long dinners.
So there you are. Take lots of exercise, eat well, drink and smoke in
moderation and you can be grey, bald and slow like me. You won’t
live for ever but it just might just seem like it.
[Editor's note: For anybody who doesn't know, Steve is Consultant Cardiothoracic
Surgeon at Hull & East Riding Hospitals NHS Trust,amongst other roles.]
[Assistant editor's note: Whilst I have no formal medical qualifications
as such, I used to hang around with a woman who became a pathologist.
Accordingly I suspect "if there are any bits that are hanging out
too far and it isn't your knob then you are overweight" may not work
if you are female. In case any readers get worried..
Also, if you didn't do King Lear at O Level/GCSE "Take physic, pomp"
apparently means "pompous men, take a taste of your own medicine."
Fidel Castro, people's hero, supports his local industry.
Monica Lewinsky finds a novel use for a cigar.
Not what anybody ever wishes to see.