Monday, 31 January 2011

The Battle of the Bulge

I am fighting another war and to be honest it is not one that I saw coming. Consequently, I am lagging behind.

But I am fighting back.

I am engaged in the Battle of the Bulge, dear reader; me versus my expanding waistline.

When I was a kid, I was so skinny that the term “bag of bones” was a fairly accurate description. I was like a living skeleton with skin tightly wrapped around my frame, with only a little muscle to hold it in place and make me look vaguely human.

I was thin – terribly thin. Yet I had a massive appetite and a fantastic metabolism and I could, quite literally, eat a horse and burn it off without blinking, belching or farting. If I ate a crisp you could see it travel down my neck before reaching my stomach where it was napalmed out of existence and added to my energy intake.

As a kid I used to think that my inner combustion engine was like the world’s greatest nuclear reactor that could break down anything thrown at it.

“I don’t know where he puts it,” my mum used to say, and to be honest neither did I.

The food I consumed gave me loads of energy. I used to run everywhere, like a little whippet. I played football in the park, swam, played squash, badminton, rugby, athletics, cricket – you name it, I tried it. I was in the school cross country team and at the end of each race I felt alive. I had a newspaper round and I carried a bag full of daily missives around the streets, running the entire time.

And I still ate loads, my nuclear digestion giving me enormous bursts of vitality allowing me to pursue all of my sporting activities with ease.

Even at university, when I cut down the exercise slightly (only slightly, mind you), I still ate vast quantities of food, especially chocolate, crisps and other things that were extremely fattening and they were absorbed without adding anything to my body fat.

Nothing changed – even when I settled down into working and married life.

I still ate loads and only put on a little weight, which vanished whenever my ex-wife, W, decided to go on a diet. She often battled with her weight (and usually won) but whenever she made a supreme effort and ate more healthily (with whatever the latest dieting fad was at the time), I lost weight too - and very easily. It used to infuriate her. I simply ate massive quantities of whatever she was eating and while the pounds slipped off slowly for W, they dropped off me.

In my early thirties, I remember standing in front of a mirror, staring at my naked reflection, and thinking to myself “I’m still a bag of bones.”

And I was.

Even at the age of 32, I could see my rib cage and my stomach was totally flat. I had no muscle to speak of at all.

I became blasé about it all. I was blissfully unaware that at some point my nuclear digestion would begin to falter. To me, the Battle of the Bulge was something I would never have to fight. Obesity, for me, was an enemy that was too terrified to take me on. I would never be fat.

How wrong I was.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact time that I noticed things starting to change. I have a feeling that it might have coincided with my 40th birthday.

I noticed that my weight was increasing. “Time for a diet,” I thought. I recalled that when W had inadvertently put me on a diet, my weight dropped. It would again – wouldn’t it?

Nope!! Not at all.

I ate more healthy food and the weight didn’t go. I actually joined a gym and started to exercise more, but the weight only drifted off a little. All of a sudden, I had a minor weight problem. I couldn’t believe it.

And it has been that way ever since. I have had to cut down on the amount of food I eat and have all but eliminated fattening food like chocolate, crisps, cakes etc. in favour of fruit.

People tell me that I am not fat and to be honest, I’m not really. The problem is I recall standing in front of the mirror and seeing a bag of bones.

Now it looks as if somebody has tried to inflate me. If I compare that mental image of myself aged 32 with the naked image I saw this morning, the difference is frightening.

I have moobs and a little podgy stomach. My shoulders are looking broader and my face is fatter. Things are drooping, dear reader – DROOPING.

People who haven’t seen me for a few years keep saying things like “My God – you’ve put on weight, Dave.”

And that hurts.

I have therefore decided to declare war on another front and try to rediscover the physique of my youth.

Stop laughing! Stop laughing right now!

I can do this – I know I can. I actually decided to start in December when I stood on the bathroom scales at the height of Christmas over-indulgence only to leap off in shock.

“GET OFF ME YOU BIG FAT LUMP OF BLUBBER!” yelled the contraption and it wasn’t even a “Speak Your Weight” machine.

I have to confess, dear reader, that I am not actually that fat. I am just a little overweight. The problem is that I am not used to it and I don’t like it at all.

I aim to lose a stone – then I will be happy. Nonetheless, just losing a few pounds can be difficult. The main problem is the food I like. I don’t want to give it up.

Why is it that the food that tastes best also adds several inches to your waistline? I love crisps, bacon, sausage, burgers, beer, pizza, cheese, chips, steak, hot dogs, mayonnaise, ice cream, fried chicken, curry, pies, kebabs, cheese on toast, biscuits, doughnuts, etc. etc.

It's like a sick joke.

The good news is that I am not a fan of chocolate and cakes so I can easily avoid such items. Sadly, there is one temptress that taunts me every time I open the fridge door. My nemesis is a giant slab of cheese.

“Go on,” it whispers. “Just a couple of slices of cheese on toast. You know you want to.”

I have resisted so far. Since December I have managed to lose about four pounds. I haven’t necessarily stopped eating crap but I have cut down, substituting an apple for a bag of crisps for example. Also, doing a bit more exercise has helped (though I have managed to hurt myself slightly doing Tae-Bo, so much so that I have decided to cut down on it a little on that too – don’t tell Billy Blanks).

I reckon that by spring, when the weather improves and the days grow longer, I shall be ready to get on my bike, quite literally.

This is a war I shall win – as long as I can resist the call of the cheese.


Richard, Twisting the Spanner said...

I'm in exactly the same position you are. When I saw the photos we took over Christmas I said to myself "What the bloody hell happened to my belly?"

All through my 20s, I could eat anything and not put on any weight. But now--oh now--it's come back to bite me in the bum.

So I'm on a diet. I was gutted when I found out beer has calories.

Kath Lockett said...


I always envied you skinny types, having been a 'tall' girl from an early age who was a size twelve pretty well by the time I was twelve.

I love every mouthful of food that goes in and try very hard to exercise enough to keep things on an even keel. Not that it works too well as a chocolate reviewer and when the treadmill blew up yesterday and my achilles now won't even let me *walk* it might mean -gulp- dieting.....

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Richard,

So I was I mate - so was I. Is nothing sacred?

I used to think "I'm on a diet but at least I can have a beer."


Life just isn't fair.




The Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

I'm not a fan of chocolate but I am a fan of beer and would love to be a beer reviewer.

Oh dear - bad news about the treadmill and your injury.

Step away from the chocolate, Kath!




River said...

You need to move the cheese to a different place in the fridge. Better yet, get Mrs PM to move it, so you don't see it without extensive searching.
I remember being 16-17 and eating TWO salad rolls AND a custard tart for lunch washed down with coke or a milkshake most days, I weighed six stone at the time. After I married and had the kids my weight settled to eight-eight and a half stone, for years. More recently, after several years of emotional over-eating and no exercise, I'm overweight by quite a bit. Losing it isn't as easy as putting it on, that's for sure.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

It's an age thing as well. At some point your body just says "I'm sick of burning off this crap! Here - have some fat!"





Pandora Behr said...

Hi PM,

Hey, good luck with this. As you're aware, I'm really into this myself at the moment - thing that works for me best - consistency ans structure. Just don't make it a chore. Move more, eat less - and have fun. That's my recipe.

Good luck,


The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

Sounds like good advice.

Let's see what happens...




drb said...

Fidgeting actually burns lots of calories, read the article:

;-) Try that!

The Plastic Mancunian said...

HA HA drb,

I am a fidget. Mrs PM is always telling me off for that. Maybe that's why I've been so thin all these years.

Now I have an excuse.

Thanks :0) :0)



juliezing said...

still trying to stop laughing :)!!!!

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Julie,

Laughter is good for the soul. It may also be good for losing weight.




Suz said...

I totally sympathise. It's horrifying putting on weight if you're not used to it. It's very funny reading about it though. Thanks for writing this. It's just aging in my experience though. There is nothing to recommend aging-in regards to your body that is. The only way around it is exercise everyday and watch your diet. Very boring I know.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Suz,

I know its an age thing and the most frustrating thing about it is that exercise is that much more difficult with age.

I aim to prevail though.