Make a change, make a difference.

Mayor Joe Anderson reflects on the opportunity that lockdown presented him and how it’s never too late to make a difference.

“As someone who was classed as a shielded person, and told I was at a much higher risk of not being able to fight off COVID-19 if I became infected, I found it a bit of a slap in the face. And, like many others, I was advised to remain at home as a result of the pandemic that is still at large today.

So not only did I have my health condition but I was also classed as clinically obese or, in Joe-speak: far too fat for my own good. All the evidence so far is that the risk obesity poses to those who get COVID-19 decreases their chances of survival. Plus we also know also that obesity can and does reduce life expectancy in general, and also causes many other health issues.

Like most of us, I have always found it difficult to make lifestyle changes, partly because human nature means we get used to doing things that are easy. So the things that we should do that keeps us healthy takes time, like exercise or cooking and eating sensibly. It suffers as a result of us blaming the fact we are busy when actually our lifestyle has become too lazy and convenient.

So the lockdown presented me with a choice: either continue the way I had been doing and keep doing all the wrong things and all the risks that meant, or change. Five months on, I am glad that I chose change. I have walked every day, just short walks at first, and then longer.

I also started to watch what I was eating, not obsessively, but carefully balancing meals and treats. I have also started cycling and do a couple of miles a day. Again, I started gradually and have built up. One of the things I am really looking forward to is being able to go out on the bike with my grandchildren — and hopefully keep up with them!

I am not lecturing people, but I am saying don’t be put off by your age (I’m 62) or how fat you are (I was 21 stone). If I can do it and make a start then, believe me, so can you.

I know I have to continue and that will be difficult but I have made the start, and at least that gives me the motivation to keep going. What I have found so far is that even small changes can make a big difference.”