An MoT for your body: I did it, it’s time to act

When Harry met John. Free Press reporter John Edwards prepares for his NHS check with health trainer Harry Johnson
When Harry met John. Free Press reporter John Edwards prepares for his NHS check with health trainer Harry Johnson

Every year, you take your car for an MoT test. Check for any defects, see that your motor is running as it should.

Why do you not do the same with your body? Like a vehicle, it has more miles on the clock every 12 months and it has suffered wear and tear.

Height and weight checks are part of the health MoT

Height and weight checks are part of the health MoT

Surely making sure you are ticking over the way you should is more important than testing your car.

That’s why the East Riding Health Trainers are keen to promote their NHS Health Checks.

They are cost-free, pain-free half-hour checks which give you vital information about whether you are in mint condition or heading for the scrap heap.

Even though I didn’t quite meet their 40-t0-74 age range, I went along to their centre in Quay Road to get myself checked out.

My blood pressure was almost high enough to see me referred to my GP

My blood pressure was almost high enough to see me referred to my GP

Health trainer Harry Johnson tells me what I can expect.

He says: “It’s like a car’s MoT, a safety check for your body.

“If there was a problem with your car, a mechanic would be able to nip it in the bud.

“Professionals are aware of how to stop conditions getting worse.

“Men have a habit of not going to a GP, but this is not as invasive and you get the results within 30 minutes.

“My job is to assist with what an individual needs.”

And so, off we go. The fun begins with my finger being stabbed so Harry can take a sample of blood to test my cholestrol.

“Good, oxygenated blood,” he says and I am lulled into a false sense of security that maybe this won’t be as bad as I had feared.

While my sample is put into a machine to be scanned, the questions begin.

“Do you smoke?”. I had been looking forward to that one, because the answer is ‘no, never have’.

Next up, alcohol. And the fact I drink less in a month than Wayne Rooney downs at an average wedding night do means I score well.

But that was as good as it got, and I soon discovered that as nice a guy as Harry is, he can cut you down to size in a single word. Like ‘inactive’.

Being a journalist is not good for your lifestyle. Sitting at a desk for much of the working day, and the stress levels associated with deadlines, are not good for me.

Before I am able to recover from being officially classed as ‘inactive’ (which at least sounds better than ‘lazy’), the cholestrol results are ready.

They are much higher than they should be. Less saturated fat is needed and Harry reels off a list of foods I should avoid. Or as I’d call it...lunch.

My blood pressure readings are high enough to cause concern too.

It is already clear that there is a long road ahead of me and they say that every journey starts with a single step. Unfortunately, my next step is on to the scales.

Weight and height measurements are taken - I’ll be honest, I’d rather it had just been height - and that enables Harry to work out my BMI score, which indicates if I am a healthy weight.

I’m not.

Just two more tests to go, neither of which I am expecting to show me in a great light. My waistline is measured - properly, from my bellybutton, not where I wear my jeans, which means the number is much higher than the inches written on the label of my trousers.

And then all the numbers are crunched to give something which really stops you in your tracks, a cardio-vascular disease risk. Basically, in black and white, the chances of having a heart attack or something similarly serious in the next 10 years.

If I thought the tests were the worst bit, I was wrong. Hearing the results ramps things up in terms of being uncomfortable.

If this was an MoT, I need a lot of work doing to me to make sure I pass.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting to come out of this experience well, but I foolishly hadn’t expected the results to be so bleak.

6.8 might not be a bad average score if I was on Strictly, but it is strictly not what you want to hear when it comes to cholesterol.

It needs to be below five.

My blood pressure reading of 157/84 is bordering on being close enough to have to go and see my GP. And despite being 6ft 4ins tall, my weight of 17st 10lbs means I have a BMI of 30.2.

I am classed as ‘obese’. Only just, but it is still not a word you want to be associated with.

In a nutshell, I should lose around 3st if I want to be ‘normal’. Everyone wants to be normal.

Harry says: “The results are typical of somebody who has neglected their own lifestyle because of work or family commitments.

“It’s not something that can’t be changed in a relatively short period of time and it won’t take too much to get the numbers down.

“Things are not bad enough to panic and with simple interventions we can see some real results.”

It’s time for a change, so starting next week in the Free Press, I will be looking at what I can do. You’re welcome to join me and share your stories.