About to jet off to that long-awaited sunshine holiday? Scared of dusting off the bikini and the Speedos in case you frighten the natives? Fear not: I have found the solution. Two weeks ago I was a near-obese 15 stone 5 pounds; yesterday I’d dropped to 14 stone 8 pounds.
See, it’s not only the England football team and Andy Murray who’ve lost a lot in the last fortnight – in my case, the loss is a triumph: 11 pounds and a whole two inches off the waistline. And you know how I feel? Absolutely dreadful.
In a previous post I wrote how I happened upon a French doctor called Pierre Dukan being interviewed on Woman’s Hour. Please don’t ask me why I was surreptitiously listening to a radio programme from which half the population is excluded, but the item has transformed me. I’ve already tightened my belt to the last hole, the black baggy shirts are packed away and I can look down and see parts of me that have been hidden for years, if you get my drift. Sadly I also know it’s only the first chapter of what is fast becoming a horror story.
The idea behind the Frenchman’s diet is that you eat only protein for five days. That sounds easy enough: as much lean meat, fish, egg whites as you can bear, together with the odd fat-free yoghurt. Then you can add vegetables every other day until, like a deflated hot air balloon, you gently land on your chosen new weight. Apparently this whole process takes a couple of months, and then there’s another period called “stabilisation”, which takes even longer.
Sadly this new diet fails to warn of some important drawbacks. In order to do it properly, you have to give up all social life, get divorced, and become the grouchiest, most unpleasantly gloomy individual on the planet, grumpier than even Gordon Brown at his worst. Oh, and your body and breath begin to smell like a decomposing bison.
I’ve been keeping a regular diary of my progress on a website called www.bringingmedowntosize.com. It’s not exactly light reading. Yesterday, sitting in our favourite pub, The Ox Inn, carefully pushing to the side Mark’s delicious roast and mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing and five different vegetables and slowly chewing three lonely slices of roast beef, I asked myself if it’s worth it. As my 12 year old slurped through the best sticky toffee pudding in the county, I was reassured that it’s all going to be over on August 21st – just 144 joyless meals to go.
That’s the day a very talented local photographer called Pam Hordon takes our family portrait. It was my father’s day present from Izzy, who has no idea what chaos it has caused. I’m determined that this picture will, in thirty years’ time when I’m pushing up the daisies, remind her of a svelte, confident, sprightly father. Sure, it may also capture a grey-skinned old man with baggy eyes and a headache, who’s permanently falling asleep (four other side-effects of this ghastly diet) but at least he’ll be slim. Vanity, thy name is Gutteridge.
I’ve noticed a number of things since I started. First, how much junk food is on offer everywhere you go; second, how difficult it is to find anything on a restaurant menu that isn’t swimming in sauce; third, how many pot bellies there are on the streets of Newcastle; and finally, how seductive bacon smells first thing in the morning.
Last night my friend Keith came up with a brilliant solution, an idea of such blindingly obvious genius it could have saved me all this agony. Take the photograph now, and then airbrush out the fat. It works for supermodels, apparently. Maybe you could do it with your holiday snaps as well.