Fear can make a man do many strange things. Force him to run across a bullet-strewn battlefield to drag a critically wounded friend to safety, or cower, shivering in the protective arms of a foxhole. Tear his recently-created masterwork into pieces or just not start it in the first place. Rig an election. In my case it was far less dramatic. I started doing some exercise.
Admittedly, I had little choice in the matter, what with the fact that if I didn’t walk 15 miles a day through mountainous terrain, I would have nowhere to sleep. But I digress. The shock of finding out I had high cholesterol at the relatively tender age of 34 was more than enough to spur my weak and ineffectual body into some sort of belated action.
And it wasn’t just the exercise. I also, to the wide-eyed suspicion of my girlfriend, started to introduce vegetables into my diet. I think the first time I suggested a nice homemade vegetable biryani instead of heading down to the local ‘Dig in the Ribs’ meat emporium, you could have bottled her astonishment and sold it to award winners on Oscars night.
My daily pro.activ mini drink was supposed to be doing good work behind the scenes, but I needed to back that up with a concerted effort front-of-house as well.
Hence the diet change and the aforementioned physical exercise. As I type this I am sitting on a balcony overlooking the picturesque Alpine village of Chatel, having walked/climbed/staggered here from the Lac de Montriond, about 15 miles away, via an 8,000ft mountain, the Mont de Grange.
This is the sixth day of a walking holiday in the Alps, where we walk from hotel to hotel. If I don’t make it, I sleep where I drop. I have already covered about 70 miles and, by the end of the ten days, will have scaled the equivalent of two Everests. As you may have guessed, this isn’t my usual way of relaxing. But the agonising pain in my calves/feet/thighs/knees must mean I am doing my body some good, right?
I take my final cholesterol test the day after I return – let’s hope the astonishingly rich, buttery, but thoroughly delicious French diet, and multiple glasses of complex but fruity wines won’t have done for me.