Paul Youd

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Octogenarian vegan athlete

I grew up eating a very typical diet, where a meal generally consisted of meat and veg. Then, in the early 2000s I went vegetarian to avoid mad cow disease. It took me a couple of years to go off and discover what was happening in the dairy and egg industries, and then I went vegan.

Health benefits

I had osteoarthritis in my fingers. If you look at them now I can’t make a proper fist. It was getting more and more painful, and the doctors would only give me ibuprofen. I couldn’t share hands, or pull up the duvet, or change gears, or hold a kettle.

When I went vegan that all disappeared. After several months I noticed the difference with my joints. It just didn’t hurt anymore. I saw one guy in the surgery whose hands were very twisted and he said, ‘This is going to happen to you.’ But it didn’t. The damage has been done, but the pain has gone. I consider myself cured of arthritis. I wish the doctors would encourage other patients to try going vegan.

Now I feel really good. I’m 82 and I feel as if I am 40!

One million press ups

Paul Youd performing a press upAbout four years ago, I knew I had to start doing some exercise.  I Googled stuff I could do at home, and started doing press-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. To start with, I couldn’t do a press-up. I could get an inch or two off the ground but not the full way. But I improved and then it became part of my routine.

Someone suggested that I try and raise some money by doing 1000 press-ups in an hour – so I did! I raised £800 for the YMCA and a local homeless charity.

I thought – what if I aim to do one million press-ups between the ages of 80 and 90? That would keep me on task and make sure I don’t slip back. Plus, I can show people that vegans can be fit, healthy and strong.

And it’s going well! I do about 10,000 press-ups a month – around 3 sets of 1000 a week. It takes me 40 minutes to do 1000. I have a 9kg kettle bell I swing around too, and I also do pull-ups. I have a pull-up bar in my shed.

It’s funny to think that I used to hate press-ups. When I was in the forces it would be a punishment. Now it’s a normal part of my everyday life.

My goal is to live healthily until I kick the bucket. I don’t want to end up in a care home. That’s a motivation as well.

Has going vegan helped you to thrive? If you have a story to share, please get in touch.

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