Wednesday, September 02, 2009


What is it about dieting? It’s now classified as an infectious disease in our family. One member started about 6 months ago, and over the last few months, everyone in a position to do so, ie one of my daughters (the other is 4 weeks away from giving birth), both of my Sons in Law, my wife and myself have had the weight reduction bit between our teeth.

In total, we’ve lost a little over 10 stones, ie 140 pounds – the weight of one of us. Hence the title of this piece.

It’s weird how it all takes hold. I’ve been around 12 stones (156 pounds for those living in the far flung outposts of the Empire) for most of my life, but, over the last year or so, it has gradually crept up, evidenced by that imperceptibly increasing but very real amount by which one needs to breathe in to allow the various zips and buttons to be secured. There comes a point where another meal of the current size and calorie content will cost a fortune, because it will entail a visit to the shops to buy a complete new wardrobe one size larger.

And that for me was the final straw. Take yourself in hand boy, get a grip and stop troughing.

If you go on at someone to lose weight, it simply doesn’t work. It has to come from within. If you go on one of these fancy diets, that is only a temporary measure. As soon as you reach your desired weight, you revert to the previous regime, and off you go, or more accurately on it goes again.

I’m very much not a diet expert, never having subjected myself to the strictures of one during my life. So I use simple logic - at least that’s what I think it is. The fewer calories you take in, given a constant rate of metabolism, the more you will use your internal store of energy, and the more weight you will lose. I have no desire to eat Cabbage soup, and fart like a trooper for the rest of my life, and a diet of strict protein, like an Atkins one, would set me hallucinating for a warm, buttery croissant within days.

I have almost zero self control in these things, so it had to be something my weak-willed-ness could cope with. Anyone who can eat a complete packet of biscuits at a sitting the way I could, needs everything on their side to make it work.

So, try to cut out the mid morning “this”, and the mid afternoon “that” (if you're into Winnie the Pooh (and you should be), the "Little Smackerels"), try not to go too mad with the clotted cream and strawberry jam scones (with butter of course) and keep to around 1900-2000 calories a day. You can even get away with a couple of glasses of wine in that if you do a bit of advanced calorific planning.

It seems totally unfair that, metabolically speaking, as you get older, your body needs fewer and fewer calories to maintain any given weight. What spoilsport thought that one up? As the years roll on, our minds start to go (Why am I standing with the fridge door open and a toilet roll in my hand?), our skin gets more rugged (not good for the fairer sex), our joints stiffen up at the same rate as other parts get less stiff (for my sense of self esteem, I put that one down to the medication!), and generally it all gently unravels. You’d think that, as a little bite sized consolation, the Great Dietician in the Sky would allow you to consume more calories each day. But No.

So my infernally clever Japanese weighing machine, which instantly calculates my Body Mass Index, whatever that is, and my optimum calorie intake tells me that I need something around 2,700 per day to stay as overweight as I am, and gives me a target. I don't think the Japanese have a sense of humour. Since each pound of weight loss needs 3,500 calories NOT to be injested, then, the maths tells me, aiming at 2,000 per day will result in a loss of a bit more than 1 pound per week.

10 or so weeks later, I am 13 (actually 13.4 – to me, the 0.4 is quite important here) pounds less heavy. My clothes now fit, and actually the ones which you use as a last resort as the weight creeps up, now fall off me with a very satisfying “splott” on the carpet. So Memo to Self - don’t wear those when you go to the supermarket, as the other customers might get the wrong idea when you’re bending over in the veg section selecting a cucumber.

I feel significantly better as a result of all this. Some of it is psychological, the result of setting out to do something I didn’t quite know I could keep up. And some of it simply physical. Just lift a large bag up that weighs 14 pounds, and imagine having to carry it around all the time. You really shouldn’t be surprised, but I was.

And I now feel I can manage to stay on the regime I’ve come up with. Last night, I even had a gargantuan portion of Daughter-cooked (and hence excellent) Shepherds Pie last night, and went to bed thinking that, as I leapfrogged onto the scales this morning, I would be in for a rude awakening. I weighed less that I’d ever done this year. Perhaps there are no calories in a meal cooked by someone else.

My confusion is immense, but I don’t care. I was going to say that "The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating", but you'd probably think I was going for a cheap laugh, so I won't.

1 comment:

Whitenoise said...

Good for you. All it takes is a little willpower but the sense of accomplishment is immense.