A few weeks ago, hard as I try to avoid looking in the mirror too long these days, I caught sight of myself in a sleeveless top, which I had discovered forgotten in a wardrobe drawer due to the fact that here on the Welsh borders we have had nothing much in the way of hot summer sun for around - um, come to think of it – about three years.
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So, here we were, basking in glory and there was I, overbaking in jumpers and sweat tops, and therefore delighted to find, after some searching, some lightweight clothes.
But then came the ghastly reality. The ghostly pale skin tone of my upper arms was bad enough, for certain – but when you factor in the wobbly bits known as bingo wings, the mirror glimpse was enough to panic me for ten minutes, depress me for the day and make me wonder if I should do something about my body other than eat reasonably healthily and maintain, more or less, a certain okay weight.
Though, being honest, the bingo wings aren’t the end of the story, which also includes a fattish tummy and no longer being able to wear my wedding ring, I’m still within my healthy body mass index (okay, at the upper end of the healthy range but never mind …) but in summer, there is a strong temptation whatever one’s age, to go on the mad crash diet, and leap (or in my case, limp a bit, as my left hip’s gone on strike after I made it get involved in too much weeding) on to the rowing machine and the stepper, both of which have been rather under-utilised of late (since circa October 2017 in fact).
What I finally decided, when commonsense finally got to overrule that mad desire to have the nice firm body of a 30-year-old, was that I could wear the top in our house and garden where there was little chance of anyone seeing me, buy a couple of new tops for out and about, and do much praying for cooler weather, soon.
Oh, and I did decide also to let my husband finish up the clotted cream ice cream lurking in the freezer and to stick with online food shopping for the time being, as the temptation to load up the trolley with calorie laden summer goodies is much less when you’re not seeing it all in person.
I’ve also been doing the exercise equipment, because it’s in the one cool room at our place – the barn – and that for me is a better option than trying to stagger around the Welsh border hills in the midday sun. But what I haven’t been doing is any form of crash dieting.
Since I began writing about diet and weight loss, back when I was a young beauty editor on a teen magazine many summers ago, I’ve seen hundreds of fad and crash diet come and go, and thousands of people (mostly women, I have to say), try them out and end up, a few months or weeks later, no slimmer, probably even a bit heavier, and feeling worse about themselves than when they began.
There’s been quite a lot of talk about the ‘new’ crash diets lately (the media still run headlines along the lines of “lose a stone for your summer hols” even after all these years) but the new ones are, believe me, no better than the old ones. Hard-boiled eggs and coffee circa 1975, or vodka and soda with halloumi and goji berries circa 2018. It makes no difference.
A crash diet is a car crash in your life and not worth the faddy bother. If you want to lose weight – and yes there’s still time to lose a bit this summer – just cut out the white carbs, have smaller portions of everything except green vegetables and salad stuffs – and, should the sun be a bit less fierce where you are by now – get out and do those walks. Raining again? That’s fine, it’s great for the skin.
We may no longer have the firm flab-free bodies we used to have – but we DO have something better now, and that’s common sense. Don’t we??