Unwanted weight approaches slowly yet determined from afar, like debt or a pushy relative on Christmas Eve. It bursts into your life with that same SURPRISE factor and elicits the same eye-narrowing scepticism of the credit card bill and of the relative. But while you can scan transactions for fraud or you can try and slam the door in the face of the scrounger, resisting the surprise, the shock and the self-loathing that follow weight gain is a much harder, if not completely impossible, task to muster. I know that while I have successfully identified fraud and I have successfully refuted scroungers, I have also stood in front of the mirror, mouth aghast, forehead scrunched up, hands pulling hard against two wretched bits of fabric that would just not come together. I use one particular pair of trousers as my benchmark for fatness and perhaps this itself sets me up for failure.
As every woman knows, there is much more levee in a skirt than in a pair of pants, but this is exactly why success resounds so much louder when the zipper pulls up with ease on the drainpipes, rather than on the pencil. I can guarantee that within ten days my currently slightly tight narrow skirt will fit like it did a few months back. The silk trousers are an entirely different challenge. I bought these bits of fabulousness in early 2002, just before my first trip to New York. I can leaf through old pics and see myself wearing them everywhere. The Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue, the plane, the Waldorf. I inspect my face for signs of fat; it surely did look rounder then. Could it be that now I am approaching 30 I simply look haggard in the face and fat in the ass? Is that the difference between early and late twenties? I also recall wearing them on the way to work, standing on the Farringdon platform, denim jacket on top, huge fringed John Galliano wrap carefully thrown on my shoulders (there is no such thing as effortlessly done dahhhlin’, remember that). I recall wearing them for lunch with a friend in early 2006 and catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror. They were loose, loose like they had never been before. At the time I was returning to work on a part-time basis, which allowed for twenty hours of exercise to take place religiously, Monday to Friday, at my local fitness centre. I was trying to strengthen my back, what I got into the bargain was not a weight loss, as testified by the scales receipts that insist on reading the same over a period of three months, but a de-puffing and toning up that I have not experienced since. And fact is, I want it back.
Friends are currently doing liquid diets, the sort that deflate you before you go on holiday, and that move you back to the land of the fatties as soon as you stop the shakes and go back to solids. Much as I’d love to be a stick, I love solid food more. I cannot exercise twenty (or more) hours per week because I cannot fit so much into my schedule any longer. I am up early to go to the office, not to walk to David Lloyd for a workout. When I return in the evening, I am too hungry to contemplate a 3-hour sweat-out. In fact, the thought of it makes me queasy. And of course Merv having been off the radar for the past three weeks hasn’t helped either. One thing is to potter around him and quite another to go for a two-hour trotting hack. Even then, I recently noticed that I do not get as tired (read, as pumped up) any longer, probably because the work on the exercise bike with a view to increase my horsey stamina has started to pay off. And yes the exercise bike. I cannot think of anything more boring than a stationary bike (lie, I can, Gangs of New York), yet it has proved invaluable at a time when Merv was lame and I really wanted a proper sweat-out. However, I have the peculiar habit of pedalling with a Nigella or Jamie DVD playing in the Mac and I can tell you that if this helps the workout to fly by (or very nearly), it most certainly does not help its aftermath.
So I resolved to cut-back with a low-fat diet devoid of just about everything. I began last night by preparing a wrap with paprika flageolet beans and Philadelphia extra light. I also threw a low-fat, low-calorie soya dessert into the bag and already felt thinner just by placing it in the fridge ready to go this morning. Except I drove to work and left it at home. Since I was in extra early, and was so very angry for having forgotten the food, I had a grande (skinny) caramel macchiato at Starbee. Believe it or not, even a cup the size of a vase laced up with caramel sauce only has 120 calories provided you ask for skimmed milk. I am beginning to wonder whether Starbee at large may be part of the problem. Since I started work at this client, with a Starbee in the building, I seem to have gotten… well… fatter. I hate even typing that. I plead on here, right now, to stop the vicious circle. I will prepare my own food at home, I will remember to take it with me, I will stop the snacking at 3 pm and I will reduce the number of Starbees (to… maybe… just xx a day). And I will fit back into those bastard pants if that’s the last thing I do before my birthday in September.