[This is an extract from my Blog From The North, detailing the events that have led me to an almost certainly doomed experiment with Dr Pierre Dukan’s revolutionary weight loss programme. Here’s why I felt it necessary to go down this painful road. In order to encourage me to stay on this absurd path, I’m supplementing my usual blog with these additional daily reports of my progress (or, as I predict, my ineviteable failure). I really don’t expect anyone to follow me on this journey. If you do persist in reading my musings, please don’t judge me too harshly. I have no willpower, which is how I got to this overweight state in the first place. But in the unlikely event that I succeed in my goal to lose what amounts to twice my daughter’s current weight, with or without the aid of Dr Dukan, I shall be happy to buy any readers who stay the course a vanilla yoghurt. It’s the least I can offer.]
It came to a head in LA. There I was, optimistically pitching a show for young people to the relentlessly trendy MTV, when it came to me that I wasn’t convincing anyone in my black shirt and Ferragamo loafers. To these bright young things I could only have looked like an old, grey, fatty.
To make it worse, my mother-in-law has published pictures of me and Izzy on Facebook. I used to be embarrassed by my own father, who was also a considerably overweight man in his fifties. Last week I found a picture of him proudly holding me when I was 18 months old. I was appalled to see that he undoubtedly weighed less than my current 15 stone 5 lbs.
So I’ve resorted to drastic measures. Woman’s Hour has offered me a solution. The other day they featured a Frenchman called Pierre Dukan who has a revolutionary weight loss programme claiming 1.5 million devotees, including Gisele Bündchen and Jennifer Lopez. Apparently they’re all enjoying the ultimate dream: eating whatever they like in a permanent state of slimness. Dukan’s diet offers permanent weight loss despite consuming limitless amounts of proper food. You start off with a few days of eating only protein, then add in some vegetables for a month or two, and, bingo, belts tightened forever. In fact, you have to buy a new, smaller belt, because you’ll never need the big one again.
Normally I’d pass this off as another fad, but the BBC, in their unrelenting quest for balance, felt they couldn’t just give Dukan a free puff and paired him against a killjoy from the British Dietetic Association. She burbled on about the dangers of a protein-only diet and how nothing was as good as controlling calories and exercise.
What utter tosh. We’ve all been trying that for years. Our trained dieticians refuse to accept that people like me will never have the gift of willpower. We’ve been putting on a pound a year since we were 25 and no amount of advice is going to change us: we need a long sharp shock. Her smugness made me so cross, I vowed to give Dukan a go – but not till I got back from LA. Nothing was going to stop me enjoying the French toast, barbecues and wonderful red wine at my brother-in-law’s house, with portions as big as a house.
I started the diet on Thursday. After three days, I can report that it’s absolute hell. I’ve had nothing but plain meat, fish, water and fat-free yoghurt. I endured our World Cup disaster down the pub with a diet Coke (do you know how disgusting it tastes?), eschewing, not chewing, the chef’s fantastic fish and chips. On Saturday night I watched a lot of happy people getting wondrously drunk and gorging themselves at a neighbour’s party. Dr Dukan says my ideal weight is 12 stone 13 pounds. The way I’m feeling right now, I’ll be dead long before that.
Fortunately my resolve was strengthened by my darling wife’s clever Father’s Day present this morning: a gift certificate for a local photographer, who’s coming to the house to take family portraits. The sort of pictures you hang on the wall and enjoy for years to come. I’ve got three weeks to transform myself. And buy a new belt.
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