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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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It has to be done if I want to wear high heels at 80

This dieting lark is a bewildering business. Who’d have thought eating less would take up so much time, money, effort and concentration?

Stocking up with leaves, fruit, chicken and fish; finding interesting recipe variations on a theme of grilled, baked, raw and not enough of it; getting used to diet tonic in gin... that’s the hardest bit. It’s exhausting!

Is it working? Well, yes it probably is. Two stones and two pounds down, I should be feeling elated. Should be skipping away from the fridge, gesticulating obscenely.

But frankly, there just isn’t time. There’s always a new arrangement of leaves and cucumber to be devised as accompaniment to the next kitten’s portion of seared tuna. A motivational enthusiasm has to be worked up for dry Ryvita and fizzy water. Crisps have to be avoided.

“You must be feeling so much happier though,” a kindly chum (thin, obviously) chirped in a spurring-on kind of tone.

You don’t like to disillusion thin people, if you can help it – even though you privately hate them. But I was never an unhappy fat person. Well, not an Olympian miserablist, at any rate.

It’s true that fat people are jollier. They have to be, to cover their inner guilt for being unfashionably greedy. I enjoy jolly. To be honest, I’m quite fond of greedy. And I do love onion gravy.

Pursuit of happiness was never why I started this blessed crusade to change shape – or reclaim one.

In fact, I don’t know how it happened. One day the mood took me and I was off. Striding past Colin Moore’s pie shop with driven determination not to go in. Throwing out every scrap of chocolate in the house. Setting Berti’s chippy way off limits. Saying no to Sticky Toffee Pudding. Offering silent apologies to the culinary gods of Cumbria for not embracing heartily a sacred duty to eat for England.

Perhaps I was nervous of growing very much fatter, getting stuck in the bath, having to pay for two seats on a plane, or something equally as embarrassing.

But happier? Hmm... that’s a toughie. I mean how happy can one person be about being able to wear the (very) old clothes that haven’t fit for years? Only mildly, I’d say.

“You’ll be exercising too, I suppose?”

“Thinking about it, yes.” But not a lot. “Underwater embroidery, perhaps. Or speed-reading.”

She looked as though she might be slipping into earnest coaching mode – sort of sympathetic, a touch pitying but about to burst into saviour or ministering angel in trainers.

I couldn’t blame her for wanting to gloat in her good fortune of a single-figure dress size. Thin people have to work hard at being perfect. They don’t see the warped humour in self-obsession.

The very idea of encountering instruments of torture in a gym fills me with a horror no thin person could ever understand. They’d probably feel the same way about steak and kidney pud with buttery mash. Or an outing to Cranstons Food Hall for yards and yards of sausage.

Reading somewhere this week that 20-something percent of women aged 74 could walk briskly for half an hour before feeling discomfort, I was cheerily encouraged.

So there was something to look forward to after all. I’d have more time for brisk, aimless walking in my seventies.

It turned out that hadn’t been the point at all. Half an hour is nowhere near enough and if I wanted to step out in high-heels at 80, which is the plan, I was going to have to get moving now. That was a real downer, since so much of my time is spent planning the next plate of leaves and watching the scales. It’s hard fit it all in. And not the lettuce, obviously.

“So, Catbells next?”

Another slimmer – stunningly successful and a self-confessed gym-junkie – was worryingly keen to get me into unattractive footwear and the outdoors.

“Catbells? Is that more like Hoopers or Fantails?”

And that’s the most bewildering thing about this dieting lark. The more you do it and the better you get at it, the more thin people want to hi-jack your success and spoil the fun.

And then all you can think off is... well, pies.

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