Saturday, 24 January 2009

Mmmmmm, exercise. Again.

I feel bloody brilliant. Been to the gym three times this week, and had an hour of pretty intense five-a-side football. I've been shaving up to 500 calories a day off with each workout, and lordy knows how much with the football. I've been eating smaller portions, too, and feel much better for it. Well, mostly I've been eating smaller portions.

After football last night, for example, I had a big-ish piece of coley (which had been coated in flour and nothing else, then cooked on a griddle pan with the tiniest amount of oil used), a few tomatoes, and some garlic bread, just a few slices. I snacked later, with a small slice of goat's cheese, and some sultanas, and that's about it. Oh, and about 10 Pringles.

It's going good – but next week, I'm away with work from Monday to Thursday, and at least two of those nights will involve alcohol. But my legs feel absolutely incredible, the running is going nicely (on the treadmill at least!) so I should get a few miles in while I'm away.

In short, the plan is going smoothly.

Friday, 23 January 2009

No idea

I've eaten without thinking about it. I had a Christmas dinner, which was a carvery involving beef and pork, and bread and butter pudding, and I'm chomping my way slowly, with Ro's assistance, through a bar of Green & Black's ginger chocolate, and I ate duck liver pate (excuse me not being arsed to put in accents) and cheese for lunch - just let's take it that the good work of last week is undone, but that doesn't mean I'm off diet as I'll make up for it and I'm happy to lose a pound a month. You can only do so much and I've done it. We've been invited out for dinner tomorrow night and I'll happily eat everything, in quite small helpings, that's put in front of me.

I ran out of time and so didn't cycle into school this morning, and was so glad of that when I came out at lunchtime and found the temperature was several degrees lower, the wind had got up and it was raining. A woman can only do so much. This whole exercise malarkey is getting right on my tits at the best. I think it will have to be accepted that I do it from duty and not from love and so it's only worth appealing to my sense of guilt.

Anyway, tonight I'm getting slightly pissed because it's Friday. Tomorrow, it'll be Saturday. Did I mention we're invited out for dinner? Cheers, darlings. No drunkenness because I'm busy on Sunday, but some merriment and absolutely no sodding diet.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Food diary 9 - where are the veggies?

All fallen apart again. Oh dear. Lucky I lost a month's weight in the first week and so have nothing more to prove for a while.

Breakfast - porridge. Yes, one day I'll get fed up and move back to dry toast and plain yoghurt.

Lunch - I went out to lunch and I was the hostess, although I didn't pay (Yay, earth absolutely does not have anything to show more fair) - a tart containing sweet potato, *another vegetable*, Binham Blue cheese. The pastry was a round of puff pastry. On it was some rocket with a light dressing. To follow, chocolate cheesecake adorned with a cape gooseberry, otherwise known as physallis, which quite possibly isn't spelt like that. I didn't eat the last third of the cheesecake, but it was my duty to order, otherwise the others would have felt obliged not to have pudding either. A glass of red wine. I had to. I'd remarked on its antigermacious qualities.

Dinner - kedgeree and peas. It was quite, but not very low fat. Two glasses of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Oh, and I shared a ricecake with the dog.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Food diary 8


Leftover kedgeree, which there wasn't much of. Plain yoghurt.

Several ricecakes and two (small loaf) slices of toast and Marmite, no butter

A cookie (I went out at 6 for a meeting and didn't get home until 10)

Leftover cauliflower cheese and roasted sweet potato/garlic/shallots

2 glasses wine

2 squares Green & Black chocolate

Oh dear, what poor nutrition. Can't be bothered to do the calories, which probably aren't huge, but not how I'd choose to eat too often. Shall we count the chocolate and wine as fruit 'n' veg to make it look better?

Z is pleased

Indeed, I am. I've weighed myself and I'm 9 stone 6 pounds. The loss of a pound in a week is a lot for me, especially as I know perfectly well I'd put on a pound or two before Christmas which I had to get off before I weighed myself because I'm too wimpish and tender to be disappointed.

I have to confess that both times I've weighed myself only in underwear (though so I had when I was 9 1/2 stone back in October) which isn't a good idea because when I finally return to the doctor for a ceremonial weigh-in, obviously I'll be dressed then. But now I'm wearing jeans and a sweater, so obviously they'd add several pounds and I frankly wanted encouragement and reward.

It's interesting though that last week was the first time I'd actually written down all that I ate, and it seems to have paid off in weight loss. It is boring though, both to write down and for you few visitors to read. But then dieting isn't exactly the most interesting thing you can do with your life and at least this seems to be helping.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Food diary 7

I'm finding writing down what I eat as tedious as you are reading it, so I don't think I'll do it much longer. It has been useful though, and is showing me that I'm eating less between meals than I was a year ago. Sure, I'd trained myself to eat ricecakes and veggies, but I still snacked on a lot of them. On the other hand, I'm more relaxed about eating something extra if I want to because I think I can trust myself not to want to do it too often and start getting into bad habits.

I had a big Sunday lunch today but I won't want much this evening. I'm thinking oatcakes, fruit and yoghurt, maybe a bit of leftover chicken.

Anyway, today I started with porridge - bet you didn't see that one coming. For lunch, a slice of roast chicken, a chipolata, half a rasher of bacon, two quarters of roast potato, two pieces of roast parsnip, sprouts, peas. I don't thicken gravy and it's just meat juices, vegetable cooking water, sherry and a stock cube. A glass and a quarter of champagne. An ice-cream cone with a small scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I wonder why I hyphenated that the first time and not the second.

Now I'm going to cut up a carrot or two and eat it with a glass of red wine. Later, the oatcakes etc.

I can't be bothered to work out calories which are boring anyway - it's a useful exercise to check I'm not eating more than I think I am though. What does sometimes surprise me is how you can whack up calories with a small addition to what you normally eat, like a single brownie or muffin, or a cappuccino if you normally drink black coffee, or a sauce on your meat.

I watched that programme about the American boy of 19 who weighed nearly 60 stone. Didn't end up with the feeling he'd get to the 14 stone target, or if he got near it that he'd stick there. Poor lad. What a life.

I have to say, I'm trying hard and I'll be disappointed if, when I weigh myself next, I haven't gone below 9 1/2 stone. I know I'm not taking much exercise though and I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that. I think I'll just have to plug away at the cycling, even if it's only a few miles a week and hope to get more time and enthusiasm in the spring. It's no good saying I'll try the gym at present as I haven't got much spare time and I will simply use that as an excuse not to go. There's no point in saying I won't if I'm determined enough, because I'm not, at present. I'd rather eat less.

I'm convinced. Convinced, I say!

By Z's persuasive argument about the whole food thing. About not eating shitloads. Or rather, about eating shitloads and not being surprised when weight doesn't fall off...

So, the plan is to make a few basic changes. I have quite a high-fibre diet, so that won't change; I will make small changes at first, and see how it feels. I usually start the day with four slices of wholemeal bread plus Marmite, and of course come kind of spready lard; I think the spready lard can go. In fact, I may switch to a particularly lovely muesli kind of cereal they stock at my local health food shop, instead. It doesn't have any nuts in, so is pretty damned healthy as these things go. No sugar, all organic ingredients, and it's bloody lovely. And if I'm hungry mid-morning, I need to make sure there are plenty of carrots in the house, as I do love raw veg, as does Z.

Other meals, I need to eat more slowly, and more thoroughly. Be very regular in the timing of meals, too – if I eat breakfast late, then making all my meals late makes sense to me, rather than eating fewer times and probably over-eating each time.

Combine this with a three-mile run every morning except one and four or five gym visits a week, and we'll see progress. The only problem is, will work get in the way yet again? My publisher has enlisted more help for me, with two new contributors to one of the magazines, which is a huge, huge help. So hopefully I won't work myself into the ground, and will have time to do the exercise I enjoy so much.

Think about it – no lardy toast in the morning could see a reasonable drop in calorieness. Combine that with a 400-calorie-killing run in the morning and another 400-800 calories in the evening… Yes, it will mean I actually eat more for fuel, but I will be burning a lot more too.

I think it will work, and give me a bit of inspiration to continue.

That said, I'm off with work for two weeks soon. Five days in London, one in Stansted, then three days in Munich, one in Maidstone, and four in Exeter. That long away from home, eating in restaurants etc... The only way through all that will be to take a lot of running gear, and to actually use it. Hell of an inspiration – for example, there are few things I enjoy more than running in foreign countries. And Munich's lovely. Running in London can also be great fun, as long as you do it very early or very late, and pick your streets with a bit of care; and Exeter has a really lovely canal path for running on, which is perfection itself. And by then, I'll be stronger and fitter too, so by the time I hit Exeter I may have five miles plus in me.

I do annoy myself sometimes. It's clear to me how much I love exercise, but I get to do it so little! Take yesterday for example – the ladies in my life were out of the house, and despite a bit of a hangover, I wanted to go to the gym. But instead, I looked around, saw that washing needed hanging, more washing doing, a load of washing-up too, plus I had to shop for dinner that night… Well, I didn't work out at all. But I did get to do some second-hand book shopping, so it wasn't all bad.

I'm rambling, and talking total bollocks; but thanks for the inspiration, Z. x

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Biking weather

It is a lot milder today, with a strong west wind. It rained earlier on but when it stopped everything dried up quickly. I reluctantly dressed up with coat and scarf to cycle in to town and found that it was easier than it has been the last few weeks and I could cycle up the hill to the post office. My knee hurt afterwards, and on the way home my other leg was doing all the active pedalling, but it still proves that it's cold weather that causes a lot of the problem.

Cycling home was a real effort though. I did have full panniers, with lots of vegetables, steak, a chicken and sausages, several tins and other food, and the wind was in my face, but the labour I made of it was quite absurd. At one time I almost stopped and had to stand up in the saddle to put all my weight on the pedals or else I'd have had to get off and walk.

Roll on spring. It should be much better then.

Food diary 6

I've just discovered a calorie counter to put on my google home page. It is a bit rough and ready, but then so am I. Ho ho. Joke. Anyway, it works out how many you have in each food, assuming they have it on the page - took me a while to discover that wine comes under dinner whilst cider comes under beverages. It suggests that I had about 1200 calories yesterday from an allowance of about 1450 - it gives the allowance for weight maintenance so I put in the weight I want to be, not what I am. It looks about the right amount anyway, I know I can't eat anything like the 2.000 calories a day charts always blithely offer women and not put on weight, but if I were 6 inches taller I'd need that and more, I daresay.

So, today so far - the usual bowl of porridge. And as I said, I reckon that to be 130 calories because of the small amount of milk I have, although the chart says 157. I'll go with the latter and eat it in a couple of ricecakes later, because that will simplify matters.

I didn't have lunch until nearly 3 o'clock (having had the ricecakes) and so stir-fried various vegetables with some chicken that needed using up and Chinese noodles. I shared it with Ro who felt rather lucky, having just come downstairs in search of food, to find me about to cook that late. 237 calories (that is, Chinese Chow Mein noodles seems to approximate) according to the chart.

I'm a little disappointed to find this google calorie counter didn't retain what I put in it so I had to start the day again. So I've added what I'm planning to have for dinner, that is, sirloin steak, baked potato (yes, baking is my default way of cooking potato as I think boiled is dull and anything else is more trouble, also I have an Aga so it means washing, pricking, shoving in and forgetting for an hour and nothing could be easier), kale and tomato with 2 glasses of wine. Actually, I suspect that my idea of a glass of wine is a bit larger than theirs, so maybe I should be scrupulous and add another glass to the counter.

Probably, I'll also have some fruit and maybe some more ricecakes and raw vegetables. I've added all those and a couple of squares of Green & Black's chocolate. Yes, I'm indulging no end today. Or so I intend. This all comes to 1413 out of 1453 calories but frankly I know that if I eat like this every day I'll put weight on, not lose it.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Food diary 5

Today was not at all interesting, as far as food is concerned, except that I've worked out that my porridge breakfast contains about 130 calories which is a lot less than I'd thought. It feels more sustaining.

Breakfast -Porridge

Lunch - baked potato (ate skin and all) with cheese

during afternoon - 4 or 5 mini-Cheddars

early evening - 1 rice cake, 3 raw carrots, 1 glass of wine

Dinner - 1 goat cheeses and red onion tartlet, curly kale, calabrese, small baked potato (plain). Another glass of wine.

I'll eat fruit later. Probably a pear and a satsuma.

Oh, and despite the relatively high fat food, I've eaten very little so it's an even day.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Food diary 4

I finally got around to weighing myself today. I have some splendid old scales with weights which are very accurate and since the weights and sliding bar are at face level I can read them, which is more than I can do with bathroom scales (yes, I could buy new ones but Victorian is usually better made). Anyway, I am still nine and a half stone - or rather, I'm that again, because I strongly suspect I put weight on and took it off again. So, since I didn't diet for about two and a half months and did rather let go over Christmas, this is not discouraging.

So, today's food -some of which hasn't been eaten yet so I may have to add more later

Breakfast - porridge as usual

Lunch - I went out for lunch, so ate more than usual. Lasagne, 2 tomatoes stuffed with rice, baby corn, peas. Small slice of lemon torte (served with a blob of whipped cream which i didn't eat). 1 chocolate mint.

5.45pm - I large raw carrot, 1 stick of celery, 1 glass of red wine.

Dinner, when I get around to cooking it - A mixture of vegetables, probably turnip, cauliflower, carrot and courgettes, with a cheese sauce. I won't eat much of the sauce. While I'm cooking I'll eat more raw carrots and possibly a turnip. I love raw vegetables. I'll drink another glass of wine.

Possibly a gaining weight day. Evens at best.

Later, I ate an apple and a satsuma.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Food diary 3

It all fell apart.....

I went to London and had to go almost straight out to a meeting when I got back. So I hadn't eaten much all day and I ate crisps (provided by me for everyone) at the meeting. I had dinner when I got back. Not many veggies today either. Oh well.

Breakfast - porridge

Lunch - cheese sandwich made with delicious crusty white bread lightly buttered. 2 cherry (I wrote cheery!) tomatoes, 2 slices of cucumber, small spoonful of coleslaw. Half a pint of fine Adnams' bitter.

Tea - a corn cake (which is like a thin rice cake only it's squashed popcorn. One has 16 calories)

At the meeting - some crisps. I'll look up the size of the packet if I can be arsed and estimate I ate 1/10th of it. 2 cheese biscuits (Cheddars)

Dinner - salmon, chips, broccoli. 2 glasses of wine.

Hm. This is as much an alcohol as a food diary, isn't it? There is little chance that I'll cut down. I did for a while at the start of this diet, but one glass of wine is like foreplay without the sex. Nice, but frustrating.

Anyhoo, this goes down as a day when I don't lose weight. However, it follows two days when I should have. I don't think I overindulged enough to put weight on. So, so far we've got minus, minus, level for the week.

*cough* There wasn't much wine left in the bottle. Now there isn't any. Fortunately, wine counts as fruit, doesn't it?. So it's a good thing really.
*cough cough* I just ate a white chocolate Ferrero Rocher (a mixed box came as a Christmas present) as all the others had been eaten. It wasn't worth it. It was overly sweet, not good chocolate and peculiarly dusted with desiccated (note I can spell desiccated) coconut. I think the others will be put in the bin.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Food diary 2

Breakfast - porridge

Lunch - 3 bantam eggs (= 2 hen's eggs) scrambled with a smidgen of butter. 1 thick slice wholemeal toast. 1 apple

Dinner - Kedgeree, made with onion, celery, a little calabrese (to use it up) rice, spices, smoked fish, Greek yoghurt, a little butter. Peas. Cabbage. 2 1/2 glasses wine.

Blimey, I'm bored already at just writing down this meagre amount of food. And I'm not cheating. How come I'm doing well if I lose 2 lbs in a month? I reckon I should lose that every sodding day.

I suppose the overeating day will happen any moment.

I'm going to eat an orange. Add to the above, please.

Food diary 1

I know that the amount I've been eating has been creeping up. So I'm going to record what I eat for a couple of weeks. It might just get too boring to put down here, but here is where i'll start.

I won't put down every glass of water or cup of tea. I don't usually drink anything (other than alcoholic drinks) but water, milkless tea or milkless coffee and none of those have calories.

I measured the oats I have in porridge and it was a bare ounce - 25 grams, let's say, which I cook with half a cup of milk, half a cup of water and a pinch of salt. According to a porridge oats packet I browsed, a portion is 45g and 340ml milk. I couldn't actually drink that much milk, never mind have it sloshed around porridge. Anyway, I suppose recording isn't enough, so I should sometime work out calories.

I noted what I ate yesterday, so here it is. Day 1 is Monday 12th January

Breakfast - porridge

Mid-morning - 1 small plain biscuit

Lunch - 1 bowl of home-made minestrone soup. 1 slice of wholemeal toast (bread and toast are normally eaten dry)

Afternoon - 4 thick rice cakes

Dinner - 2 sea bass fillets. Cabbage, baked potato (nothing added), roast sweet potato, garlic, shallots in olive oil. 2 glasses rose wine.

Day 2 follows, though may be updated if I eat more later.

Monday, 12 January 2009


Like Badgerdaddy's friend, you can lose a vast amount of weight quickly, but only if you are really overeating and go to a very strict diet and were pretty damn fat to start with. I couldn't do that. Over a period of three months, I was able to lose a pound a week in my thirties, and that was pretty good going for me. I don't think I could have lost much more, maybe an extra pound a month - but I only wanted to lost just under a stone from 9 stone, so there wasn't much scope. If I'd weighed twice as much, I might have lost it twice as fast or better if I'd lived on chips and Coke to start with.

But the thing is, it isn't necessary to be demoralised if you don't shed weight like that. And it isn't necessary for all of us - for no one unless there is a serious health problem. And, just as seeming to eat no more than a friend, but putting on weight when he/she is thin is an irrelevant comparison, dieting stringently yet losing weight at half the rate of someone else is too. This isn't a competition. And breaking the rules isn't putting one over anyone. You can eat whatever you like. It's your choice, Choose it if you want. Just don't say you can't help it because it isn't true.

I've got plenty of friends who 'couldn't' give up smoking. When they developed cancer or a heart problem, they gave up smoking (my stepfather was one of those). I knew I was overweight. When I was told my arthritic hip would hurt less if I lost weight, I did just that (well, I did, I haven't recently). My friend Jo, after having her first baby, was ill for a year. Eventually, coeliac disease was diagnosed, triggered by pregnancy. She really misses bread, biscuits and beer and gluten free substitutes for the first two don't quite cut it. But she doesn't touch them. She knows how crap she will feel and that it will damage her health. Likewise, diabetics adjust. If we give in to a craving, we choose to eat or drink or smoke or do something which we know is not good but which we choose not to resist.

I'm iffy about the idea of dieting clubs although I know they have spectacular results for some people. It's the tyranny of the weekly weigh-in that puts me off - well, as well as me being deeply solitary and unfriendly with no team spirit. But weight fluctuates. Especially among women or those with quirky bowels who save it up a bit (sorry) or pretty well anyone else. I just couldn't deal with the thing of gaining weight as often as I lost it. I know, that's me and the feel-good factor matters more to me than to some.

So, I've pontificated enough, and I wonder how to get started again with weight loss. Actually, I think I've put on a few pounds and lost them again, but I won't have lost any weight until I'm below 9 1/2 stone. I haven't weighed myself properly as I've been so busy (this isn't the pathetic excuse it sounds) but I'm not much bigger as my size 10 skirt is still roomy. Remember how short I am and my small frame, I'm by no means slim.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

It doesn't have to be fair

Going back to the question of losing weight by exercise (because Badgerdaddy is sure to pull me up over it) yes, it's possible if you do enough. I know a bloke who cycled across America, coast to coast from Virginia to California, in 3 months and, after the first week, realised he had to double the amount of food he was eating to keep pace with the work he did. But he had been training and preparing for this trip and was used to going to the gym and cycling about 30 miles a day, and he hadn't lost weight on that - he wasn't trying to, he was lean and fit already. So if you're going down the hard exercise route, do that for its own sake. I'm sure you'll lose weight, but it'll take longer if you haven't changed the way you eat.

Many of us have dieted before and either lost weight and put it on again or not lost much at all. So I think you need to work out what you are eating wrong and why. We often say that we don't really eat that much and we've got friends who eat a lot more and don't put on weight, but that's got nothing to do with it. If we're overweight it's because we eat and drink more and move around less than we need to. It doesn't help to compare ourselves with others, unless it's to see what they are doing right, maybe unconsciously, and therefore why they are thinner than we are.

Once you know what you're doing wrong, you must address the reason. Then, you need to work out how to get around that. I find that I must always have something to snack on, but if it is pretty uninteresting and low fat then I won't be tempted to pig out on it, and it doesn't really matter if I do. If you have a strong craving for a food, then it's best to go without. Sweet and fatty foods cause cravings. If you have a really low fat diet for a week and then eat some chips, the fat will coat the roof of your mouth and you'll wonder why you never noticed it before.

But there are various reasons we overeat and it's not enough to simply decide not to do it again. For example, if you've been brought up to clear your plate, it can be really hard not to. If you're sociable, then as you chat, you eat and you don't notice how much you are eating. If you are unhappy or lonely, food is a comfort. it's a great comfort. Don't underestimate that. If we don't care much about food then we'll just shovel it in, but if we're a gourmet then we cook elaborately. We may not be aware of hidden fat, such as in dressed salads or sauces. Then there's those of us who eat carefully all week, go out on a Friday night and eat several packs of crisps and nuts with our gallon of beer, finishing with cheese-laden pizza on the way home.

So, identify what makes you overeat and what you can do about it. Just as importantly, work out what you can't help or what triggers you might be able to avoid. Be honest with yourself, but don't do it with an attitude of self-hate. That is part of the problem. We don't like our bodies when we're fat. Eating sensibly is not a punishment. It's a choice. And, sorry to point it out, but it's for life. If you diet, lose weight and then stop dieting and taking exercise, odds are that you'll regain all you lost and more, in a dismayingly short time. No, it's not fair.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Z Declares that she is Right (which may lead to unpopularity)

Okay, I'm going to stick my neck out and give advice. And you might not want to hear it, in which case read no further, or you might disagree, in which case tell me and I'll back down, argue or acknowledge different ways of looking at the same thing, or read it and think that maybe I've got a point, whether you intend to be *inspired* by it or not.

If you're saying 'I really should lose some weight', you're not going to.
If you're saying 'I must go on a diet' you probably won't.
If you're saying 'I'm dieting from now onwards, and no, I won't have pudding, thanks', you might.
If the doctor says 'You need to lose weight' you will genuinely try to.
If you quietly decide that enough is enough, you're doing it from now on and you don't care how long it takes or how hard it is, then you probably will give it your best shot.

So, let's say that you have definitely decided to get fitter, lose weight or both. The decision isn't worth a small, hard, shit. Nor is joining a gym or buying a bike. You've got to use it. Consistently. Quite possibly, forever.

I have done it both ways (that is, dieting with and without extra deliberate exercise), so I know that you can lose weight without taking any more exercise, and as you do so, you will move about faster, so that will help. But exercise tones you up and you will, immensely gratifyingly, look thinner than you actually are, so taking some exercise is a Pretty Good Thing, and it helps with the dieting.

Before you go all out with a heavy-duty exercise programme, consider what you want more: - to lose weight or to become fit and/or muscular. Because the latter doesn't necessarily mean the former. A friend of mine, told she had to lose weight before having an operation, exercised like mad but didn't eat differently, and she hardly lost anything. They operated anyway and she feels better, but she's still fat. She now thinks it's impossible to lose weight. Exercise tones and fittens, but doesn't make you lose weight.

Exercise does raise your metabolism, so you're more likely to lose weight if you diet as well. So, if you want to lose weight, exercise enough to raise metabolism and no more. Muscle-building makes you weigh more. And if you're not dieting too, you'll use the increased muscle as an excuse (which may well be true) for not losing weight.

So, you decide to go to the gym/go running/walk to work/cycle/swim. You are full of determination and enthusiasm. You work hard and lose several pounds in the first weekend/week/month. You multiply that by 52/12 and say that's what you'll lose by this time next year.

I'm not saying this is impossible, but it's very unlikely. Lower your expectations. Bear in mind that there will be weeks, maybe whole months, where you will be too busy or on holiday or going to parties and you will not lose any weight at all, and you may gain a couple of pounds. Even if you diet steadily, crash dieting for a year is unhealthy and leads to diminishing returns. Sure, we've all read about the people who've lost half their body-weight in a year, but they are unusual (and I'd like to see them in 5 or 10 years and see if they've kept the weight off, because I think many of them will be bigger than when they started). Most of us aren't unusual. Most of us eat a reasonable diet, with a few bad habits, and there just isn't enough to cut out to be able to lose that much without risking ill-health. Keeping up strength is important, especially when you're over 40, or have small children, or hope to have children, or have a demanding job, or don't want to risk osteoporosis when you're older, or don't want to catch every infection going. This means me and you and every other bugger.

Losing weight slowly and steadily is best and we all know that, but it's boring and a real pain to have to keep buying new clothes in a smaller size (unless you like buying lots of cheap clothes) but nevertheless, it's the most reliable way of losing weight and keeping it off. If you go on a crash diet, you may well lose weight quickly but the odds are you haven't devised a sustainable and better eating pattern and it'll all go on again as soon as you stop dieting.

10% - 15% of your body weight in a year is a really good and impressive weight loss. If you now weigh 100kg (random amount because the maths is easy), wouldn't you love to weigh 90? Or 85? So why do you think you have to lose 1 kg every week for a year? It's not on, is it? You will not lose half your body-weight. Relax. Losing 1 or 2 kg a month is superb. Even half that is good news. Especially if you've actually arrested weight gain. If you've been gaining a steady 3 kg a year for the last few years, gaining nothing is an advance. Particularly if you're fitter and healthier because you are taking some exercise and noticing what you eat.

Ach, this is too long and I've been opinionated long enough. I'll be back with the rest. And I'll still be annoyingly right.

Not quite to plan

I had planned to spend my Christmas break chilling, exercising, that kind of thing. I did approximately 50 per cent of those, though. Not the exercising 50 per cent, sadly.

I did get some exercise - myself and Trophy Wife did a very nice bike ride one afternoon, which was a reasonably undulating, if not hilly, six-miler where we averaged just under 10mph. First time I've done any distance on a bike in a couple of years and it felt pretty easy.

I got to the gym a couple of times, and on one occasion weighed myself to discover I am under 16 stone, which is pretty good. The next time I was over, but it was much later in the day in my defence... Last workout was two days ago, and I did something I have never done before - I did exercises with the sole intention of making running better and easier. I did some core strength, I worked my adductors and abductors (muscles on the inside and outside of thigh, but I forget which is which), did some dips (okay, maybe not ALL running focussed, but that was the only one that wasn't), did a bit on the treadmill and, most importantly, did some lunges. 32 of them, to be precise.

I hate lunges. I find them very difficult indeed, and it causes pain in the right arse muscle for a couple of days afterward. It's the kind of pain which tells you, quite simply, that you need to do more of them. The stride pattern starts in the arse, you see, which makes it a very good exercise for runners and non-neutral runners in particular (well, me at least, as it complements the exercises the physio gave me).

Funny thing is, yesterday, I put my undercrackers and trousers on without tripping at all. Sounds daft, but I always, always catch my right foot on undercracker, trouser or both, and I only realised yesterday it's partly because I can't actually raise that foot all that high from standing.

To summarise my Christmas, anyway: I drank lots of beer for four days, then switched to wine, which I drank only on New Year's Eve. Food was in sensible (for me) portions, and regular. When hard exercise was not an option, we went for longish walks and they were ace. Each was around an hour at least. Was nice.

I still feel pretty good, though some more exercise would be really excellent, so I shall be in the gym quite a lot this weekend.

Waist has not shrunk, but I am a gnat's cock away from being a jeans size smaller than this time last year, so I'd say things are moving in the right direction.

More soon.