As part of my Vitality health insurance plan, I get a free health check at a local Lloyds pharmacy. The check is fairly high-level, and will give you a breakdown of your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugars and BMI (though I don’t take much stock in the last one). If the results are good, you earn lots of points which means more goodies like free Starbucks drinks, cinema tickets and half price running shoes at Sweatshop – win!
For a bit of background, I’m 25 years old. I’m fairly fit and healthy, if I do say so myself. I don’t eat many takeaways, I’m not smoker or much of a drinker, I work out multiple times a week, and I’m not overweight (unless you go by my BMI, which is always completely skewed thanks to my quad muscles. Tall, I am not). I have a relatively low resting heart rate, I do lots of cardio, and day to day I feel absolutely fine.
Most people like me wouldn’t really bother with a formal health check without the added incentives. It seems a bit irrelevant when you’re young and active and pretty healthy, right? High cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar is for older people, surely. Smokers, drinkers, people who are overweight?…
Or at least, that was my thinking. But despite all of this, in light of what happened with my Dad a few months back, I recently took the plunge and made an appointment. I can honestly say that if my Dad hadn’t fallen ill, I probably wouldn’t have bothered. In fact, I had the same opportunity last year, and never took it. Just goes to show, really!
Due to a family history (recently discovered as it was) of heart disease, I was advised early on that I was at higher risk of developing heart disease myself, and got my cholesterol checked out independently by my GP a few weeks ago.
I’ll tell you what, trying to wangle free blood tests on the NHS was an absolute faff – but 100% worth it, and if you have any doubts or concerns, make sure you speak up and ask for a check-up.
The Viltality check was far more straight forward. I logged in, picked my appointment time, and my friend and I headed up to the pharmacy one afternoon. The pharmacist took us into a little office, did us at the same time to save us waiting around, and was lovely and friendly and informative. The experience was pretty positive, although the results were less so. (In fact, they kind of blew my mind, and if I hadn’t been checked out by my GP beforehand I think I would have been fairly shocked).
Due to the stereotypes associated with these sorts of results, I was a little bit embarrassed – and maybe ashamed? – to share them, and I’ve been in 2 minds as to whether I should publish this post. But I wanted to share my experience as it really goes to show that if we spend our time focusing too much on the outside – comparing ourselves to others, and obsessing over aesthetics – we overlook what’s really important.
I’ll admit that it’s a little unusual to have these sorts of issues in your twenties, and my readings are heavily influenced by my genetics – but whoever you are, and whatever your lifestyle, it’s definitely worth being mindful. We’re not invincible, and we need to look after ourselves.
That doesn’t mean we should all start running marathons and lifting loads of weights and calorie counting and loading up on kale and smoothies and cutting out every ounce of fat and salt and sugar… Hell, I’m not! If I want a black forest hot chocolate from Costa (because OMG, heaven in a cup), then I’ll flipping well have one – but I’ll also think twice when I find myself looking at the Chinese takeaway menu because I’m feeling too lazy to cook the food in my fridge, or I feel like skipping a workout because there’s a new series on Netflix.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 8 or a size 18 – if you treat your body well, you’ll reap the benefits. But whilst I’ve accepted that numbers on a chart aren’t the be-all and end-all, the reverse is also true.
Be kind to your body, treat it as it deserves, and it’ll reward you. (I’m working on it!)
– – –
What do you think about health checks/body MOTs? Have you, or would you ever have one?