It took me a long time to come up for air after Christmas and New Year – wow, Dartmouth is certainly a sociable place in which to spend the festive season.
It was a yuletide whirl and tremendous fun – but the downside was that I consumed more celebratory chow than I have for many years. And, apart from some vigorous reindeer racing and parlour-games-meet-It’s-A-Knockout on New Year’s Eve, I was fairly sedentary (and at times soporific!)
The result was that when I poked my head above the parapet into drizzly January, particulary grey and dull, and decided I had better resume dog walking, I found that all that Wensleydale with cranberries had gone straight to my bottom which was weighing me down on the way up through Dyers Wood. Oh no – time for the dreaded detox.
I don’t like jumping on the bandwagon and the rebellious teenage me who still lives in my head did not like the thought of being yet another person on a New Year diet. So dull and so predictable – but sadly necessary.
Unsure of the best way to approach this, my instinct was to cut down. No-one eats cranberry filled cheese in January so that’s not too tricky, and my tribe wolf down a Christmas cake before you have time to say marzipan. Thankfully there weren’t many festive leftovers, but that’s only because we ate EVERYTHING!
How was everyone else tackling this annual woe? Easy enough to find out – if there’s one thing people on a diet like to do it’s talk about it…constantly…to everyone.
They’re all at it, different approaches to the same problem. I’d better not name names, but one friend has taken up swimming and is on a radical detox. She works in Plymouth so swims there before heading home – describing the pool as a ‘human soup’ of fellow fanatics desperate to swim away those extra pounds. It’s as much an obstacle course as a swim, swerving, colliding, apologising, inwardly seething. Never one to do things by halves she’s detoxing too – in a big way. “No carbs, sugar, fat, alcohol, caffeine…” Less a diet – more nil by mouth.
Another isn’t drinking in the week, and I thought that sounded a good idea, although I have been able to persuade her that the weekend starts on Thursday. She hopes ritual humiliation at work with a Monday morning weigh in will aid her resolve, a colleague having helpfully purchased a set of office scales. Cruel!
One friend is going to the gym every minute she’s not at work and drinking gallons of water to “flush out fatty deposits” – ew! At least five have signed up for Fat Club (their words not mine!) hoping for group inspiration and results, others are running and cycling all over the place, one friend has bought a set of smaller plates, another is weighing her food rather than herself, a least three are doing something called Zumba. I have no idea what that is but I expect it involves vigorous jigging about and sweatiness.
And it’s not just the gals. One male friend is halving the size of every meal and snack he eats, another has taken up yoga and the class is more men than women, another has given up beer (but taken up wine – hmm!)
Apparently our new Wii Fit game will weigh me, so I have decided to stay well clear! My brother-in-law was not impressed when a weigh-in in front of a family audience pronounced him between fat and obese, and his little on screen character puffed outwards until he resembled a cricket ball. A keen rugby player and sports fan, he was not happy, especially at the laughter of the merciless children.
I don’t need a cartoon-me to tell me that my jeans are tighter. I know the truth. So I’ve joined the dieting masses by cutting back on butter and cheese, eating normal amounts rather than loaf-sized hunks. I’ve told myself that cake mixture DOES count as fattening food even though it hasn’t been cooked, and I don’t need to slurp down huge spatulas from the Kenwood to check whether the buns I’m baking for the packed lunch boxes will taste ok. I’ve been avoiding cakes and biscuits in favour of apples and satsumas. There will be no more Baileys. I’m using a smaller wine glass and sticking to the weekend only rule (well mostly…)
It’s dull but necessary. I don’t want to be a blimp. I don’t want to avoid going up hills because I know how puffed out I’m going to be at the top. I don’t want to buy bigger clothes. I can’t rely on those big pants – it all has to come out somewhere. Same flab, different bulges!
I do feel a bit better but it would be so much easier if we didn’t have to do this in the winter – I wonder if Australians have all this trouble? January and February are exactly the time when you want to cheer yourself up with a steaming heap of apple crumble and custard, or a dollop of treacle pudding. When dumplings are the meal of choice, not salad. It’s too cold and grey for lettuce. I want chips!
One of my friends is a dietician and her mantra is “everything in moderation.” And that’s the key isn’t it – not the nil by mouth approach of the swimming chum, just tone down the amounts. Food is meant to nourish us in every way, good for the soul as well as the health, and there’s nothing as rich in soul food as a walk in the great outdoors. A bit less sitting, a bit more stomping, no more cake mixture and I might be ok in time for Easter (hot cross buns and butter – now there’s a thought!)
First Published February 2011 By The Dart