Fat – A Slight Return

blue tape measuring on clear glass square weighing scale

Other than my blog, I have no ‘online’ presence at all – no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram – so, after I had written this post, I decided to email as many of my old school friends as I could and invite them to read along. Consequently, this post marked an early peak in readership, although it turned out to be very short lived. Some stayed with me for a little while, a few are still here (thank you) but most have wandered away realising that they have better things to do – oiling the cat, worming the lawnmower etc – and, as they moved on, my figures plummeted again before, some weeks later, beginning a frustratingly slow ascent. My readership remains very modest in number (although, individually, of the highest calibre) but as I set out, I had the loftiest of aspirations which, I now realise, will never be met…

Fat was first published 22 November 2018 and is approximately 1100 words long.

I have a bike. It is not a super-lightweight racing machine with slick tyres the thickness of knife-blades. It is a cheap, heavy mountain bike with tyres like a tractor. It has, of course, never been anywhere near a mountain. It has generally been pushed, not ridden, up the gentlest of inclines by its shagged-out rider. It has never, to my knowledge, borne a thin, lycra-clad athlete. It carries a fat man in jeans. The fat man is me and it is an immutable fact that whatever I may do, I am a fat man doing it. We are irrevocably conjoined by some weird symbiosis of thought, my weight and I: Colin/Fat, like Nelson Mandela/Hope, Usain Bolt/Fast, Idris Elba/James Bond, James Blunt/Turn That Bloody Racket Off! I know I should take more exercise. I know I should lose some weight. Every other expert on every other TV program tells me so. Every other expert on TV makes me feel bad about myself. I’ve got to be honest; the fact that the government tells me that I need to cut down on sugar, fat and alcohol is unlikely to sway me. This is the same government that tells me the health service is not in crisis, schools are better than ever before and that Brexit really does mean Brexit – whatever it is that Brexit means…

I have calculated my BMI – 25.6, which means that I am overweight. Now, I put most of this down to my height. If I was taller I wouldn’t be overweight. I have considered hanging from a doorway in order to decrease my BMI. Frighteningly, I appear to have actually shrunk by an inch over the last twenty years, although I prefer to think that my tape measure may have stretched. In fact, I still reach the same point on the garage wall – but I put that down to subsidence. I eat less than I once did and I exercise more, but I still put on weight. I don’t believe that any of this can be blamed upon a somnambulant thyroid (although, having said that, like an idiot I have just looked up the symptoms of an under-active thyroid, and I discover that I have them all). For the time being, until I can get an appointment at the doctor’s (I’m free in March if she is) I am perfectly happy to lay the blame at the door of Messrs. Cake, Gin and Chocolate. The answer is, I know, to exercise even more and eat even less. Perhaps if I exercise enough, I won’t have time to eat. Like most overweight people, I would like to lose a bit. Like most overweight people, I know that the only way to do so is to ‘do’ more and to consume less. Like most overweight people, I choose to do neither. I’m not obscenely fat, but I am of a build that allows me two choices when buying a ‘T’ shirt: something that resembles a Bedouin tent or something that looks like it has been spray-painted onto a lifebuoy. My weight dictates my behaviour: I dare not enter a swimming pool without first checking for Ahab.

You see, I have reached the age when I look at the obituaries and think, “My goodness, that’s no age,” when I used to think “Oh well, he/she had a good innings.” And I’m tired of hearing about people who were the “healthiest person I have ever met” just one day before they dropped down dead. I remember reading somewhere that you shouldn’t take up any new form of exercise once you’ve passed 50 years of age. Problem is, what do you do if your last real exercise was kiss-chase in the school playground? The real challenge when commencing a new exercise regime at my age is finishing it conscious. Like some of the medications I now take daily, one of the less desirable side-effects of exercise is death.

My mum couldn’t cook; she could burn water. Combining the correct quantities of cornflakes and milk in a bowl was, for her, a culinary triumph. But she loved a diet; the faffier and faddier the better. Meals that had to be meticulously weighed and prepared really appealed – but not for long. Unusual ingredients were always a bonus – particularly if she couldn’t find them anywhere. “I looked everywhere, but nobody had Patagonian cumquats, so I bought a pie.” I remember her doing a diet in which she ate nothing but grapefruit. Presumably you lose weight because the only thing you are allowed to eat is completely inedible. One of the true benefits of taking statins is that I no longer even have to contemplate a glass of grapefruit juice with my holiday breakfast. Scales were pounded weekly, daily, hourly and if there was no loss, exercise might be taken – normally a stroll around the block or, on Fridays, to the chip shop. For my mum, a diet began on a Monday and ended on a doughnut.

My own approach to dieting is equally haphazard: I try to eat less, I try to drink less and I try to eat only at meal times. And I eat fruit. Tons of fruit, which my largely fruitless upbringing led me to believe was good for me, but which the experts now tell me is too high in sugar. What happened to “an apple a day” and all that? I’m waiting for the for the catchy couscous or bulgar wheat epigrams, but they don’t appear to be forthcoming. No “do’s” only “don’ts”. Can you imagine your mum telling you forty years ago that drinking a litre of green slime a day would be good for you? The nearest we got to a ‘Supergreen Smoothie’ was a pot of mushy peas. And yet, as kids, we were all so skinny. The only child in our class who carried above average ‘timber’ was known as ‘fatty’ for the rest of his life. He was revered by all because he learned to sweat before the rest of us. I was like a walking X-Ray: a badly assembled jumble of skin and bone. I looked like somebody had tried to get me onto Ryan Air as hand luggage by turning me inside out and emptying me. My grandma, a Manchester woman who did not consider food to be of any value at all unless it “gave you a lining” had a mission in life to “put some meat” on me. Sadly she didn’t see it, but in the long term, she succeeded…

The Spring Has Sprung, The Grass Has Ris*…

blue tape measuring on clear glass square weighing scale

… and the diet starts today. It’s the time of the year to try to starve this sad lump of a body into some kind of shape (strange phrase that – it’s already in some kind of shape: an amorphous sort of blobby one). Now, I’m not the most sophisticated of dieters. There are no fancy recipes, no points to count: generally I reduce my alcohol consumption to feature weekends only (the weekend, I should point out, starts on Friday, obviously) and I eat less chocolate (probably less of a challenge for me than eating more chocolate – after all, there are only so many hours in a day) and… well, I have to be honest, that’s about it really.

I’ve never really understood calorie counting. If you’re that bored, you could try counting the spikes in the Artex to similar effect. I have a simple principle really: trousers are getting tight, either a) lose a bit of weight or b) buy some new trousers and I cannot tell you how much I hate clothes shopping. So, my waist being somewhat more malleable than my waistband, it is the obvious place to start.

I’m not hugely overweight (pounds rather than stones) – I would say rotund rather than obese – and I’m relatively fit: I walk a reasonable distance each day and I cycle during the summer (as I cannot function in the cold). I can get my arse out of the chair without becoming too breathless. I played football until I was well into my 50’s – hence the on-going battle to get my knees to bend in the morning – but I don’t take any kind of formal exercise; no gyms or classes or anything else where I am forced to look my porky age whilst others do not. Meeting new people leaves me rigid with fear. I have no idea what meeting a new group of people all dressed in lycra might do to me. And, whilst we’re here, I really do not like public swimming pools. I’m a very weak swimmer and, while I’m perfectly happy to bob around in the shallow end with the grandkids, I would look a bit weird without them.

Now, it was my intention to tell you my starting weight, but I can’t. The battery has gone in the bathroom scales so, unless I can find some means of perching on the kitchen scales, the diet will have to be postponed until I get a new one: what would be the point of losing weight without knowing it? It’s all about verification isn’t it? Tomorrow I will buy a new battery and I will weigh myself before I start to diet so that I am aware of every single gram that I lose. And, in a week or two, when my trousers have become too loose, I will be faced with another dilemma: buy new trousers or eat more chocolate. If you want my advice, buy shares in Cadbury now.

 

*The spring has sprung, the grass has ris
I wonder where the birdy is
Some people say the bird is on the wing
But that’s absurd, for I would say the wing is on the bird.
(My mum’s favourite springtime quotation)

Fat

fat

I have a bike.  It is not a super-lightweight racing machine with slick tyres the thickness of knife-blades. It is a cheap, heavy mountain bike with tyres like a tractor. It has, of course, never been anywhere near a mountain. It has generally been pushed, not ridden, up the gentlest of inclines by its shagged-out rider.  It has never, to my knowledge, borne a thin, lycra-clad athlete. It carries a fat man in jeans. The fat man is me and it is an immutable fact that whatever I may do, I am a fat man doing it.  We are irrevocably conjoined by some weird symbiosis of thought, my weight and I: Colin McQueen/Fat, like Nelson Mandela/Hope, Usain Bolt/Fast, Idris Elba/James Bond, James Blunt/Turn That Bloody Racket Off!  I know I should take more exercise.  I know I should lose some weight.  Every expert on every TV program tells me so.  Every expert on TV makes me feel bad about myself.  I’ve got to be honest; the fact that the government tells me that I need to cut down on sugar, fat and alcohol is unlikely to sway me. This is the same government that tells me the health service is not in crisis, schools are better than ever before and that Brexit really does mean Brexit – whatever it is that Brexit means… 

I have calculated my BMI – 25.6, which means that I am overweight. Now, I put most of this down to my height.  If I was taller I wouldn’t be overweight.  I have considered hanging from a doorway in order to decrease my BMI. Frighteningly, I appear to have actually shrunk by an inch over the last twenty years, although I prefer to think that my tape measure may have stretched.  In fact, I still reach the same point on the garage wall – but I put that down to subsidence.  I eat less than I once did and I exercise more, but I still put on weight.  I don’t believe that any of this can be blamed upon a somnambulant thyroid (although, having said that, like an idiot I have just looked up the symptoms of an under-active thyroid, and I discover that I have them all).  For the time being, until I can get an appointment at the doctor’s (I’m free in March if she is) I am perfectly happy to lay the blame at the door of Messrs. Cake, Gin and Chocolate.  The answer is, I know, to exercise even more and eat even less.  Perhaps if I exercise enough, I won’t have time to eat.  Like most overweight people, I would like to lose a bit.  Like most overweight people, I know that the only way to do so is to ‘do’ more and to consume less.  Like most overweight people, I choose to do neither.  I’m not obscenely fat, but I am of a build that allows me two choices when buying a ‘T’ shirt: something that resembles a Bedouin tent or something that looks like it has been spray-painted onto a lifebuoy. My weight dictates my behaviour: I dare not enter a swimming pool without first checking for Ahab.

You see, I have reached the age when I look at the obituaries and think, “My goodness, that’s no age,” when I used to think “Oh well, he/she had a good innings.”  And I’m tired of hearing about people who were the “healthiest person I have ever met” just one day before they dropped down dead.  I remember reading somewhere that you shouldn’t take up any new form of exercise once you’ve passed 50 years of age.  Problem is, what do you do if your last real exercise was kiss-chase in the school playground?   The real challenge when commencing a new exercise regime at my age is finishing it conscious.  Like some of the medications I now take daily, one of the less desirable side-effects of exercise is death.

My mum couldn’t cook; she could burn water.  Combining the correct quantities of cornflakes and milk in a bowl was, for her, a culinary triumph.  But she loved a diet; the faffier and faddier the better.  Meals that had to be meticulously weighed and prepared really appealed – but not for long.  Unusual ingredients were always a bonus – particularly if she couldn’t find them anywhere.  “I looked everywhere, but nobody had Patagonian cumquats, so I bought a pie.” I remember her doing a diet in which she ate nothing but grapefruit.  Presumably you lose weight because the only thing you are allowed to eat is completely inedible.  One of the true benefits of taking statins is that I no longer even have to contemplate a glass of grapefruit juice with my holiday breakfast.  Scales were pounded weekly, daily, hourly and if there was no loss, exercise might be taken – normally a stroll around the block or, on Fridays, to the chip shop.  For my mum, a diet began on a Monday and ended on a doughnut.

My own approach to dieting is equally haphazard: I try to eat less, I try to drink less and I try to eat only at meal times.  And I eat fruit.  Tons of fruit, which my largely fruitless upbringing led me to believe was good for me, but which the experts now tell me is too high in sugar.  What happened to “an apple a day” and all that? I’m waiting for the for the catchy couscous or bulgar wheat epigrams, but they don’t appear to be forthcoming. No “do’s” only “don’ts”. Can you imagine your mum telling you forty years ago that drinking a litre of green slime a day would be good for you?  The nearest we got to a ‘Supergreen Smoothie’ was a pot of mushy peas.  And yet, as kids, we were all so skinny.  The only child in our class who carried above average ‘timber’ was known as ‘fatty’ for the rest of his life.  He was revered by all because he learned to sweat before the rest of us.  I was like a walking X-Ray: a badly assembled jumble of skin and bone.  I looked like somebody had tried to get me onto a Ryan Air flight as hand luggage by turning me inside out and emptying me.  My grandma, a Manchester woman who did not consider food to be of any value at all unless it “gave you a lining” had a mission in life to “put some meat” on me.  Sadly she didn’t see it, but in the long term, she succeeded…