Tag: <span>Boys Brigade</span>

The health kick has stalled again but I think I’ve figured out why.

I need a goal. I need an achievement.

In the past I’ve managed to tackle a 10KM run, and a 47 mile cycle ride from Glasgow to Edinburgh and, more recently, I took part in a local 5KM event.

All of them gave me a target, a goal, a reason to do some training.

This is not news to me, I know I need a challenge to push me to exercise. After that I know that the healthier eating falls into place and after a couple of weeks I start to change my approach and attitude to being healthy, I’ll take more care of what I eat, I’ll push myself to do more exercise, I’ll even start to plan around going for a run, or to the gym, shuffling my social calendar where I can.

But whilst I know HOW to set myself goals, it seems that without some form of focus or event I can’t seem to stick to it.

Being healthy is not a specific enough goal. Lose 10kg is specific and measurable, but hasn’t been attainable despite the fact it is most definitely realistic and I can set myself a time limit to achieve. But there is no competition other than with myself.

Although I’m not sure “competition” is the right word.

There is definitely something I need to have in place that has my exercise being focused on an event, as opposed to a simple goal of losing weight.

So it’s time to come clean. My name is Gordon McLean and (I think) I’m a praise-addict.

I think I have to finally admit that it’s the achievement and praise that completing an event brings that triggers something in my head. Looking at how I interact with others when talking about exercise and health, it starts to make sense.

I’m aware of my weight and size, and whilst I’ve been heavier, it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t talk about my weight. I don’t drop it into conversation at work, for example, nor is it something that anyone asks me about (you tend to only comment when people have lost a very noticeable amount of weight and then only if you are reasonably sure that they have been trying to lose weight in the first place).

If I manage a short run, or I lose a little weight, I will mention those things in a self-deprecating way, but when I was taking part in Pedal for Scotland (the 47 mile cycle) or the recent 5KM run, everyone knew about it as I talked about my ‘training’ for it.

But, at work at least, we talk about what we did at the weekend. The achievements of our lives if you will, and I’m realising that the external validation (for want of a better word) is what drives me on. It’s also why I share weight and fitness ‘stats’ on a Twitter account, and why I write about it here now and then.

At this point I’m pausing to wonder if it’s praise for an achievement that I seek, or simply just having an achievement to boasting about.

None of this is new. I’ve floated similar thoughts on Twitter in the past and several very lovely people have offered me ‘competition’, be it comparing Fitbit stats, or mileage ran. At the time it was an intriguing thought as I was convinced it was purely my competitive nature that drove me but, as I’m starting to figure out, it’s not that at all.

Competition will always push me to push myself. I like to win. I like to help others win. Even going back to my time in the Boys Brigade, it was that same drive and determination to push myself further, and either help or drag others along with me if I had to, that made my squad win all the trophies going for the year I had them (I won both personal trophies that year too).

Ohh that’s a boast, isn’t it.

Regardless of whether it is praise or boast that motivates me, I know that I need to figure out how to ‘game’ my brain again. Sign up for another 5KM run perhaps? There is a local Parkrun* but, for no good reason they don’t seem count in my own internal (and admittedly quite weird) scale of ‘achievement’. Perhaps that’s all I need to change. To set myself a date driven ‘run 5KM at Parkrun by the end of October’, perhaps?

My general fitness isn’t actually too bad, I play basketball once a week and, injuries aside, have been managing to do at least one run or longer walk once a week as well, but it’s not enough and I know it.

The bottom line is that I need to lose weight for medical reasons.

My weight needs to go so my blood pressure lowers naturally so I can, in turn, lower the dosage of my high blood pressure medication before it starts messing with my liver. Beyond that I’d like to lose some weight to be more comfortable in my clothes and to change my own internal body image.

But, despite the seriousness of the issue, knowing that I have to lose weight, that I am compromising my health, still isn’t enough to motivate me to make the right kind of changes.

I guess that losing weight and eating healthily just doesn’t sound like much of an achievement to me.


* Parkrun – free, timed event that runs every week. Is it because it’s not a one-off event that I don’t seem to think it counts?  


Health Personal Musings Sport

I have a broken button. The 4th down on the shirt I’m wearing is broken, cracked in two, with each piece remaining attached by the merest of threads.

When I get home I’ll unpick the spare button attached to the label, remove the broken button and sew on the spare button. Yes, I can sew. Well at least enough to put a button on a shirt.

Hang on, that’s not right!

What I meant to say was that, when I get home, I’ll take the shirt off and chuck it in the bin. I’ll buy a new one at the weekend, maybe two, and a new jacket, maybe even a pair of shoes. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.

It’s what we do, isn’t it. Consume. Hoard. Discard.

I remember learning to sew on a button at school. Home economics it was called, we made all sorts of useless rubbish, a felt pencil case and I’m sure we even made a stuffed toy hippopotamus.

Further lessons in practical matters were picked up at Boys’ Brigade, although none of them were based on sewing.

Yet today I fall all too easily into the modern society trap of ‘if it’s broke, don’t fix it’. So much easier to discard what is broken and buy in a replacement.

I wonder if the credit crunch will impact that, not only the amount of cash available to purchase new items but being able to go to a store that sells what you need? Where, in your average small town high street, would you go to buy a button? Hardware store? Haberdashery (if they have one), Woolworths?

Anyway, such considerations are scary and horrid so best not to dwell on them, and it’s not MY fault these businesses are closing, they should’ve been more careful with the amount of debt they were running up. Shouldn’t they.

So, the act of binning this shirt with the broken button is actually me doing my bit to help the remaining stores. After all, if I fixed it then I wouldn’t need to go and buy a new one, thereby stimulating the economy. Yes, I’m certain my £7 will make a world of difference to Primark.

Excuse this burst of nostalgia, but whilst tidying up this weekend I happened across some old school diaries and various notes and letters to my Mum, scrawled in my own fine hand aged between 7 and 10 or 11 (roughly). One thing that struck me was just how much I used to do when I was younger. Excluding the piano lessons and practice, the Boys Brigade and visits to see my Gran I used do a lot.

Memories came flooding back, times of mammoth Monopoly games that would span weeks at a time, bombing round the street on my bike, playing tag with a spud gun, and that one where you tied some poor sod to a lamppost and everyone ran off to hide. Tennis in the street when Wimbledon was on, cricket on the big patch of grass round the back when the Tests were on, and football at every other turn because, after Action Man, that’s what boys did back then.

I had a pretty damn good childhood, until my sister came along to spoilt it (KIDDING!! Or am I?), and I realise this may just be down to the fact that I’m getting older but kids don’t seem to do as much these days? Don’t get me wrong it’s not that I don’t see kids outside playing, it’s just that I don’t see as many as I (think I) could.

Of course I can’t really comment on this, not being a parent.

Still it was nice to flick through the old notes and diaries of my childhood. Remembering the red trainers, visiting my Mum in hospital, and even the time I had to put cream on my “wili” (see, even back then I was a blogger in the making, no holds barred!!), There were even some slightly more up-to-date photos, including one of my sister and Louise, hey it might even make for a good caption competition.

Right, enough of that, I’d better say goodbye because she’ll kill me when she sees I’ve posted that photo!! Was nice knowing you all!


In a rather lovely turn of events… ohh god, “rather lovely”, I can’t say that… in fact I’m not sure what I want to say about what it is that I want to say something about, bear with me.

The basic facts are thus; my good friend Stuart is getting hitched, he phoned me last week and asked me to be his best man. Simple enough.

It’s going to be a small and informal affair, with close friends and family only on the day itself (a Friday), and a larger reception on the Sunday evening. I’m truly honoured to be asked, as I’ve known Stuart for .. blimey.. 17 years. We met at Hospital Radio Lennox, as we were both completing our Queens badge for the Boys Brigade. A lot has changed since then, and we’ve been through our share of turbulent times but it’s always the same when we meet up. Comfortable and familiar. And yes, that’s a good thing.

The wedding day entails a civil ceremony, with a following ‘dinner’ in the Two Fat Ladies restaurant that he and his partner keep raving about. There won’t be the usual round of speeches, so from that point of view I get off the hook a little. I’ve still to discuss the stag night with him mind you…

Despite the ‘informal’ (non-traditional) stance, I do want to say a few words though, but it won’t be in the format of a ‘typical’ Best Man speech, mainly because everyone in attendance already knows most of the embarassing stories about Stuart, and the few that remain I can’t repeat in front of his mother… although I’m guessing that she knows them already.

However I would like to say something… so any suggestions are welcomed.

Ultimately it’s an honour and a pleasure to be able to stand up and congratulate the happy couple. Ohhh, I should just say that, right? Yes, that’d do the trick.

“It’s an honour and a pleasure to be able stand up and congratulate you both. To Stuart and Alan, the happy couple!”

Well that’s the ending nailed… maybe I should open with that story about him and the nurse…


A little over 6 miles, and the last in the series of Polariod 10K races.

It was this time last year that I started jogging, but one thing I’ve never mentioned is who spurred me into action. It was someone I bumped into at the end of last year’s race and if I seem him today I will be shaking him by the hand to thank him. I have contemplated a quick kick to the shins at the same time but I’m past that. Almost.

This time last year, as we turned up to visit the Farmers Market at Lomond Shores we realised that it was also the finish for 10K race. As we walked past the finishing area I bumped into my old Boys’ Brigade captain. We chatted for a bit and on asking him why he was there he revealed that my old company (1st Dumbarton) help out with the marshalling of the race. He then said something which has driven me on for the past year.

Now, I know it was meant in that jokey, friendly way that blokes use, and I took it in that spirit. I have not spent the last year brooding and harbouring a grudge, and you don’t need to watch for TV headlines of how a man “mysteriously” drowned in Loch Lomond today. But don’t get me wrong, I was kinda ‘piqued’ at first.

“Yeah, we’ve been helping out here for years now. What about you, you should be out there running it… ohh perhaps not eh?!” he said, before slapping my belly with the back of his hand. Point made.

And that was it, that is what inspired me to start jogging. Not much to it really, is there. I was almost 3 stone heavier than I am now (and I’ve just realised that I hardly mention my weight loss anymore, funny that) so he was right. I was too fat and unfit to run 100 metres let alone 10 kilometres.

A week later I spotted the advert in the local paper that took me to jogScotland and the rest, as they say, has happened in the past.

I really do hope I see him there this year as I owe him a huge thank you. Weird thing is, he probably doesn’t even realise what kind of effect he had and whilst I don’t usually buy into the whole “tough love” thing, it certainly seemed to work.

So, if you happen to be in Balloch or the Vale of Leven today and you see a tall, balding, slightly podgy guy with the number 1066 pinned on the front of his top, plodding and panting along please give him some encouragement as he’s gonna need it!!

Anyone want to take a guess at how long it’ll take me?

Personal Musings

After posting about my lack of willpower of the weekend, and receiving some useful and thought provoking comments (thanks!), I think I need to step back and see what else could possibly be the problem.

Or, indeed, if there is a problem at all.

I started jogging last summer, the inspiration for which came about at the end of a 10K race near where I grew up. We happened to turn up at Lomond Shores last June, only to find that it was the finishing line for the Polaroid Balloch 10K which was being marshalled by some local groups, one of which was the Boys Brigade. I bumped into one of the officers that I knew and got chatting in that “haven’t seen you for 10 years” abbreviated kind of way. I asked how long he’d been helping out with the race, and he said he’d been doing it a fair few years now and it was always fun to see ex-members of the Boys Brigade, he then suggested that I should be out there running it but “I guess you’d need to lose that spare tire, eh!”. It was a tongue-in-cheek comment and certainly not meant as an insult.

But boy, did it sting.

Like most fatties, I know that I’m overweight. I know WHY I’m overweight and I really don’t need reminded of it as I’m perfectly aware of the facts. Feeling uncomfortable in clothes, always wondering what other people think of you.. well it’s not the greatest way to live your life. I don’t worry about it all that much, to be honest, but jibes about my weight always hit home hard.

And so, two days later I found myself scanning the local free paper during some.. eh… private time (e.g.), when I stumbled across a small advert. It said that “JogScotland” was starting up soon and was open to everyone, of every level. It made specific mention of the fact that it would help you get from walking to jogging in ten weeks. In a rare act of spontaneity (I DO like to plan things), I phoned up, signed up and two weeks later I was standing about with a bunch of complete strangers. Most of whom were women.

My goal, even then, was simple.

I WILL run that 10K in June 2007.

Personal Musings Sport

Well I guess I’d better come clean.

The clocks changed on Sunday morning, and we lost an hour because “Spring forward, Fall back”. This is despite the fact that we don’t have “Fall”, we have autumn and the usage of the phrase also ignores the fact that our American brethren changed their clocks a couple of weeks back. Still, mustn’t complain as the nights are now lighter, and much more prone to floating away on the breeze.

From memory I can only recall one time when I missed the changing of the clocks, and thinking about it… yes I’m pretty sure it was my parents fault. There I was, in full Boys Brigade uniform, standing at the Rialto car park wondering why no-one else was there. Scarred for life. Actually, now that I come to think about it that might explain why we are always early for things… hmmmm.

Not wanting to be late for my Sunday morning run, I diligently went round the house late on Saturday night, changing the clocks that need changed, and taking the opportunity to get them all set to the same time (I even phoned the speaking clock, what fun!). Surprisingly, for people who are constantly aware of the time, our clocks all seem to run either fast or slow and over the space of a couple of months they can end up almost five to ten minutes apart. We really should get new clocks.

So, having changed the clocks I set my alarm for 9am as I was out for an early run and knowing I was losing an hour of sleep I thought I’d try to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I sat down at the computer and set an alarm for 11.30pm, knowing fine well I’d run past that by about an hour but that would still give me a good long lie. I do like a long lie on a Sunday.

Well, as you’ve probably guessed by now there was a bit of a hiccup. Yup, that’s right. I’d set the clocks back, not forward.

To make matters worse we only realised this at around midnight which was, and remember I’d already changed the clocks BACK, two o’clock in the morning.

Me is numpty. Official.


Parents look away now.

(bet they don’t)

Meg admits to ‘learning about alcohol‘ when she was in her teens, and I thought it about time that I come clean as well.

My first illicit experience with alcohol — other than a shandy or two with my parents agreement — was at the tender age of 15. I was helping out at a Boys Brigade dance, looking after the cloakroom with two other boys, Scott and David. Now Scott was one of those boys who just seemed older and more mature than everyone. He smoked, he swore, he was pretty popular at the time. That night, as we sat in a tiny room cloakroom completely bored out of our minds, he revealed that he had managed to buy alcohol a couple of nights beforehand.

At first David and I didn’t believe him, so we dared him to buy some more, to prove to us that he wasn’t joking.

We searched our pockets and gave him what cash we had and he sneaked out of the window. The plan was that David and I would cover the cloakroom (the dance was underway already so there was literally nothing for us to do other than sit there) and when he got back we could take turns drinking.

I remember being rather nervous, not in case we got caught but in case I spluttered or choked or did anything remotely uncool! I hoped he’d buy something that I’d heard of, and that wasn’t like some of the harsh burning liquids I’d sipped from my father’s drinking cabinet. Some of that stuff was vile! How could people drink it, the way it burned the back of your throat, and coated your mouth, yuck.

So David and I sat there, talking about nothing and everything, babbling away to make sure there was no silence, no time for our thoughts and nerves to build, and when Scott chapped the window to be let back in we just about fell off our seats.

He had just finished clambering back in when one of the officers (Boys Brigade, remember?) wandered by to see how we were doing. We told him everything was fine, but we were a little bored seeing as how there wasn’t really much to do. He agreed, and fishing in his pockets he said he’d keep an eye on things here if we wanted to nip across the road and get ourselves some chips. Result!

I whisked the five pound note from his hand and we almost sprinted out of the door, all of us with the same thought in our minds. As we turned the corner we agreed that the alleyway to the back of the hall was best, as we’d get plenty of warning if someone was coming but it remained out of sight of the road.

As we turned into the alleyway Scott pulled out a bottle of clear liquid. Smirnoff vodka. Now, I knew enough about vodka that you were supposed to mix it with something. But Scott and David said we didn’t have enough time and next thing I know I’ve got the bottle in my hand and I’m being encouraged to “just take a big gulp and swallow it quick”.

So I did.

Now, you’ve all seen that comic moment where a guy takes a slug from a bottle and wheezes as it kicks the back of his throat. He maybes gives a little twitch of the head a la Jack in Easy Rider “Neh! Neh! Neh! Fuh! Fuh! Fuh! Indians”. You know what I mean.

Multiply that by 3 and you are close to what it felt like.

A million hot pokers slammed into the back of my throat, raced down my gullet and set fire to my belly. I felt my face flush, my eyes tear and I inhaled as much of the cool night air as fast as I could. WHOWZA!!!

In my minds eye, of course, I hid all this, I was hanging out with the cool kids after all.

A few more swigs each and we headed back inside to discuss the finer points of what we had just consumed. My head a little blurry, all of us a little giggly. That was my first brush with alcohol. And yes, I kept the fiver.

After that I moved onto beer — my first ever pint was a “pint of heavy”, ordered purely because it was my first time in the bar and that was what the guy next to me had ordered — although I wasn’t drinking regularly for another couple of years. I was reasonably sensible with it though, honest!

OK, so I’ve fessed up, you’re turn! How old were you and what did you drink?

Personal Musings

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