Date: 7th October 2015 at 5:03pm
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Regular forumers will know about this already, and I don’t intend to shine his head but wanted to do something on it when I could find the time because it is a story that can inspire others if they show the determination to get off their Arsenal’s and decide to make a change for the positive in their lives.

I could ‘gush’ or just take the Mickey given it’s my name, but in many ways it speaks for itself and I should probably let it do just that.

With that said though, I’m not going to miss the opportunity of pointing out at least folks know where JF has disappeared to when he said he was ‘off to pump’ – wasn’t what most of you thought was it!



With Fear finding himself in the above addition of Men’s Health – October publication – both the Daily Mail and the Birmingham Mail have picked up on it and for those who weren’t aware of his struggles in life – well he’s had a little bit more to deal with than me when I’ve got tipsy over the years put it that way.

Fear, no age given – because it’s rude to say old he is – has overcome major brain surgery and things like brain taps (yes, I don`t know what that is either, I only know the taps that pour beer!), every rib in his body broken several times due to sunken ribs and numerous operations over the years to become the bubbly/stroppy anti Christmas but pro Yoda individual that we all know today.

Men’s Health picked up on a few stories of people who had overcome personal battles and blows, and featuring alongside Fear in their article was the likes of Mark Ormrod who lost both legs and one arm in Afghanistan, and Jonathan Benson who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at 22 but got his condition under control through a special diet and ignoring surgery and drugs.

Of course there were others, but I can’t repeat the entire piece – what I can say is it’s a great read because of what they’ve all gone on to achieve having overcome their own demons and I doubt there’s few of us who could learn a thing or two from their desire and determination – I know my lazy ass can.

ps – if I can take the editorial licence for anybody who reads some of the Daily Mail’s comments section – Dave Gorman would have a poetic field day – these lads work and find the time to train, they aren’t state spongers with nothing else to do, but some of the brain dead didn’t realise that.

Worth a read though – great entertainment.

But back to JF and his interview with the Mail.

‘When I was born had to be resuscitated as I came out blue (apart from my nose obviously) with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck and that, it has been suggested, is what has led to so many health issues. My ribs were sunken and the specialist back in the day said it was pushing my heart to one side and so I had massive reconstructive surgery to make them look better and to raise them. Every rib broken in several places, metal bar and clips to hold them up and a haemorrhage just to complete the drama, all rather uncomfortable. hen – and it never happens apparently – the metal bar slipped and was poking out the side, so that had to come out. Then came a joyous run of ops, some minor (nose and tonsils, both a walk in the park for me!) and a good few major. I ended up totalling six rib ops, a few lasting six or more hours and as you can probably imagine, some left me in a right state, just awful really!’

His fun wasn’t finished there though, with hopes those days were behind him.

‘Then came an amazingly painful cramping feeling in my head, it felt like the eyes were popping out the pressure was so intense in the head. After much messing around by the doctors and some ridiculous diagnosis, it turned out I`d got a hind brain hernia which caused something called Syringomyelia. That led to a brain op. I thought that was probably the end of my ops then only to be rushed in five months later with my appendix set to burst..! That basically put me into a bit of a void for ten years where pain and exhaustion put pay to doing what I`d have expected to through my 20`s and early 30`s….Then came the fightback, then another, then another.’

As regular forumers will know, back in 2012 Fear completed the Holland & Barrett six month weight training challenge, but what some might not know is just as he reached the best physical and mental shape he’d been in for years, he then when down with suspected viral meningitis and it affected his hind brain again and in his own words, coming through that spell and losing the ground he felt he had made up with that ‘challenge’ (15 months roughly) it was ‘definitely the worst I’ve ever been.’

‘At the end of that I was back out of shape and it was decision time, fight back and start again or give up. That decision took me at least 3 seconds. Fight back. It isn`t about how many times you get knocked down, it`s how many times you get back up. With that said, I`m quite happy not to get knocked down again thanks!’

For those wondering why weight training.

‘I was thin as a rake, white as a ghost and needed to do something about it. I discovered training, started reading up and became obsessed. t`s an interest that has never left me, even during the years where it`s been physically impossible to actually train (and I do mean impossible!). There is just no feeling like it to me, the endorphins training or other sports pump into your system are exactly what the doctor ordered, sport truly is the best anti depressant in the world. So many people sleep walk through life watching trash tv and eating vile processed food instead of getting out into the world and doing something with the gift called health! I love the actual process of training but also the science behind it, writing the training diary, tracking the process etc. Blimey I`m dull!!!’

I’m not sure we can call it diary really, those are normally personal but we don’t do that on Vital Villa.

For those who don’t know the forum well we have a (currently) 259 page thread on Weight Training and whilst I won’t link to a few other threads discussing fitness, health, nutrition – it’s nigh on a DIY advice paradise on getting fit, living a healthy life and eating right – from those doing it and those trained in it.

Fear’s isn’t the only journey that takes place in there but it’s probably the most ‘described!’

‘Even people close to me said they`d not realised quite what I`d had in life. That is the way I`d always intended it but now I`ve done the Men`s Health ‘Heroes` article as well, it seems I`ve opened the Pandora box!’

So with all the past struggles, and ongoing issues because of the problems he’s faced, the obvious question of discipline and commitment was raised.

‘I`ve always been an all or nothing sort. Music, training and football (not playing I`m afraid, my legs don`t like walking let alone trying to run!) have stuck with me all my life. Some days when the energy is low and pain high it can be harder to get going but they are usually the best sessions because it would be so much easier to make excuses and not bother. Seeing results helps as well and I do find that I love being in control of my body (as so often with the brain that dictates what I can and can`t do) and also the pain that follows from training (DOMS) is a pain I control (as opposed to the neuropathic pain I get, that`s just like having electric shocks and there isn`t anything that touches it!). I find it keeps me positive, on an even keel mood wise and certainly gives me the feeling that I`m not (and never will be) giving in to the health challenges. Oh and the punch bags (I`ve a line of four of them) helps me deal with the blinking Villa and the worries they give us all! lol I did have to laugh the one day though, the cord holding the one punchbag snapped and the bag punched me back. Beaten up by myself.. quite unique that!’

With the Mail opening with the comment that JF is now banned from local newsagents because of the number of copies he’s brought, and others because of some hard selling tactics.

‘I`m currently banned from Sainsbury’s and WHSmiths for chasing all their customers forcing them to buy copies and asking if they want it signed (I am joking just in case anyone is wondering!). Mom has 500 copies though, I did tell Men`s Health their sales would soar!’

As said this isn’t a ‘gush’ or a Mickey take, but I know speaking for myself as somebody who ‘had’ returned to the bells again after putting the dumbs down when personal commitments came along in life, and has since started a number of times but never kept going, I can’t be alone in taking something from the determination aspect of all the lads listed in Men’s Health.

JF I know hoped the inspiration element would be the outcome rather than a ‘poor me’ give me praise and sympathy routine, and I’ve seen the evidence of people taking something from his, and the others’ stories, so if covering it here now only adds one more person to list (two including me!) and they quit quitting and get back to it – whatever it for them might be – then it’ll have been worth my time.

The full interview with Jonathan is on the link with the Brum Mail, and the coverage of the other lads is on the Daily Mail one.

For anyone tempted, check out that forum thread – big read but worth it and no question is too small or stupid for somebody wanting to learn.

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