Saturday, August 21, 2010

Picture Perfect: The Last Post

Day 64

Then: 15 stone 5 pounds (215lbs)
Now: 13 stone 13 pounds (195 lbs)

Well, it’s actually far from perfect, but rather better than I looked two months and 20 pounds ago. Here’s the proof:

It was a close run finish. Dr Dukan always conceded that followers of his diet regime might need a little wholewheat to get the system moving from time to time. He’s not kidding. I rather panicked at the last moment because I weighed myself last night and was still well over a pound short of the target. I suspected this was because of the constipation caused by my relentless diet of morning cardboard (see recipe in an earlier posting) and dry lunchtime chicken. However much fresh garden salad I consumed, nothing shifted the bloating.

So I opened my first loaf of bread since June and it did its stuff within half an hour. Sorry to be so basic, but they say blogs should be truthful – and some of you have shared this journey with me for the whole 64 days, and I've had several emails from people who've been inspired to join the regime. Good luck to you all.

As the photographer arrived I weighed in at 195.4 lbs. This is the lightest I’ve been since I was going out with Anneka Rice in the mid-90s. Even then Ms Rice complained about my weight (in fairness, during the relationship I had expanded from 185 pounds, which was, and is, my “true weight” for my height and build). I remember her saying one morning, rather cruelly, but I confess accurately, that I was looking pregnant: this, just as I got out of the bath. That could well have been the beginning of the end.

I began a diet that day, but failed as miserably as I have in subsequent attempts, including the one where Michael Grade and I competed with the Controller of BBC1 and sent each other cakes and messages to try and put each other off. I’ve described that journey, and my failed 2008 attempt to emulate it, in another post.

Alright, a more cynical reader, or indeed an ex-girlfriend, might point out that I look as pregnant now as I did then, but I do feel that my Dukant diet has been a resounding success. I genuinely feel better, lighter, healthier and everything else I promised myself. More importantly, I’m proud of my family snaps, the first of which is published here and more of which will appear later this week on Blog From The North.

They were a nightmare to shoot. The talented photographer, Pam Hordon, was an angel. Unlike Izzy, who had no desire to be part of the polite and formal family group shot that Jo and I had envisaged. She insisted on sprinting round the garden instead of sitting quietly on my lap. Thus the “sitting” became a running.

The shoot reminded me of a film I made about the Walton Sextuplets, which included a photo session with Lord (Patrick) Lichfield attempting to take a family portrait in a formal garden on their second birthday (here's one of the more successful pictures which has been scanned onto a fanzine site). The shoot was a glorious nightmare, with Lichfield waving a little bird at them, which they all studiously ignored. Just as he was set to take the picture, one of the six would run off into the distance. Miraculously, Patrick managed to get all six looking at the camera at the same time, and the Waltons were far better behaved than Izzy. It was fortunate that Pam was more than a match for her.

The pictures show a leaner, more sprightly man than before: still just as old, of course, but perhaps more ready to enjoy the next round of fatherhood with my beautiful young wife and my gorgeous, if rather exhausting, daughter.

Thank you for following this blog to this, its final chapter. I shall be attempting to remain at this weight for some time, despite Dr Dukan’s exhortations for me to carry on down to my “true weight”. Jo doesn't want me to carry on: she thinks I'm just fine as I am (or maybe she just wants her life back). My appetite wants me to be a stone bigger.

If Dukan prevails, and I lose even more than I have to date, I may update this blog: I will have consumed an awful lot of oatbran by then. If he does not, as seems more likely (judging by the large bacon cheeseburger I had just half an hour after this photograph was taken and the seafood linguine I'm preparing for supper tonight), this will be my final word on the last moments of my ex-waistline. But you may catch the occasional visual clue on Blog From The North. I look forward to welcoming you there.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Not All Fat Ladies Are Pregnant

Day 63

Then: 15 stone 5 pounds (215 lbs)
Now: 14 stone 0 pounds (196 lbs)

I have a terrible confession about a major weakness of mine – a paranoia, even. I can spot a close acquaintance on the other side of the street and, mid-hail, will stop myself from saying his name – just in case I’ve confused him for someone else.

So, to avoid potential embarrassment, I utter a strangulated “Hi there” and wait for him to acknowledge me. Often confirmation of the person’s true identity takes several minutes. I can’t just say “How’s Dorothy?”, or “Are you still with the Gas Board?”, just in case my friend isn’t the friend I think he is, or isn’t married to the right person, or in the right job. So I tend to come out with phrases like “How are things?” and wait for a clue in his reply to reassure myself that I’m both talking to the correct person and that I really do know what he does, who he lives with and all the other essentials to ensure safe ongoing discourse.

This long established fear of awkwardness and humiliation would keep a psychotherapist in new couches for life, I’m sure. Something in my childhood, some terrible mortification long hidden behind a mask of uncertainty, will have prompted this terrible discomfort. My two years of therapy in California failed to grapple with it: I had bigger skeletons from my past to uncover.

In the 1980s I made the world’s worst talk show producer because I could never recognise any of the guests. I once told a well-known artist in the Groucho Club how much I liked his movies. He replied “I like Lindsay Anderson’s work too, but sadly I’m not him”. I was so distraught, he sketched a portrait of me which he gave me “to remind me who I am”.

So, as a result of this perverse obsession with identity, I’ve always been very careful about what I say to anyone. Most of all, I keep quiet about their appearance. I’ve even stopped saying how well people look since a former work colleague whom I did recognise (also in the Groucho Club) revealed, after receiving my congratulations on his slim physique, that he’d just been diagnosed with cancer. Sadly I read that he died last Sunday.

So imagine my surprise when three people in the last 24 hours have had the courage to come straight up to me and declare, bold as brass, how much weight I’ve lost. I’m full of admiration – for them, not me. I’d be too scared to say that to anyone for fear of the consequences. But why only three, and why in the last 24 hours, when I’ve been hovering around this weight for a week and a half? Maybe they are secret readers of this very blog?

Tomorrow I’m going to wear a big badge with “The Diet Is Over – yes, I’ve lost nearly 2 stone - you can congratulate me”. But first the photographs: so I can carry the proof forever.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Final Hurdle

Day 58

Then: 15 stone 5 pounds (215 lbs)
Now: 14 stone 0 pounds (196 lbs)

One pound and one week to go. Next Saturday Jo, Izzy and I have our family portrait taken and, if things go to plan and I don’t suddenly rediscover the joys of cappuccinos and ice cream, I should have hit my target weight of 195 pounds. When I’m dead and buried, this is how Izzy will remember me.

Yesterday my friend Justin asked me the question I’m refusing to think about: what happens next?

Well, at the moment I can’t think beyond Newcastle United’s first home game of the season, next Sunday, when I hope to be sitting in the bar with a steak and kidney pie, chips and a pint of Grolsch. Except that, after two months of abstinence, I know that will just make me feel ill – even if we beat Aston Villa, which is a most unlikely event. Jo has organised a little celebration with friends after the game at our favourite Chinese restaurant – noodles and rice have been banned along with everything else I really enjoy in life and I’m really looking forward to Mango’s fried pork dumplings and steamed scallops and prawns.

The question is, how much of this diet will continue, and where will my weight be a month or two from now? The short answer is, I don’t really know. But one thing is clear: I’m enjoying this new body. I actually feel rather more alive than I did two months ago; I don’t huff and puff climbing stairs or hills; I am more confident in my clothes.

I’m still a whole 14 pounds off my so-called (called by Dr Dukan) “real” weight, but Jo says she doesn’t want to be married to an old wrinkly. At the moment I'm gently gliding down by just a pound or two a week - I doubt this will continue.

So I’ve set myself a new target: I intend to stay below 200 pounds forever. Quite how I achieve this once my taste buds come across all the banned substances again, I don’t know. But I may well keep up the cardboard breakfasts, and even have the ghastly roast chicken-only lunches from time to time. And I shall certainly keep weighing myself – not daily, as I have been for two months, but weekly. And I’ll publish the weight in my other blog,, where today I’ve posted a more extensive version of the Size 34 jeans saga I shared with you earlier in the week. Jo and I went to Gap on Thursday and I bought dozens of Large (not Extra Large!) shirts and a couple of pairs of new jeans. It was a most satisfying feeling, quite worth all the pain of the last two months.

And to keep me motivated there will be the evidence, the Before and After photographs. I’ll be posting them as soon as the photographer sends me the evidence. And they’ll sit on this site forever, as a permanent reminder of how I was, how I became and, hopefully, how I’ll never look again.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dusting Off The Old

Day 49

Then: 15 stone 5 pounds (215 lbs)
Now: 14 stone 1 pound (197 lbs)

Oh so close. I can’t wait to announce that I’ve dropped below the 14 stone barrier for the first time since – oh, at least the 1990s. Today I accidentally pulled on a pair of Armani jeans that were minding their own business in the bottom of a drawer. They were size 34, which I haven’t been able to squeeze into since I went to the United States in 2000.

Sadly these were jeans I must have bought sometime in the eighties. They had a tight crotch and thighs and flares. Jo was singularly unimpressed when I showed them off in the garden. “Take them off immediately and throw them away” was her command. “And promise me you’ll never, ever, wear them out in public – not even when you buy the newspapers.”

Later I tried a whole host of other trousers and jackets which have been languishing unloved in the wardrobe for years. They all fit perfectly now. But they all look absolutely terrible.

This is a bitter disappointment. I’d kept them all, like bits of old electrical equipment, mobile phones, sockets and spare lightbulbs for redundant fittings, along with keys for long-forgotten doors and several dozen battered curtain rings, because I’d always hoped that one day they might come in useful again. Similarly, I’ve always believed that my unrelenting expansion was going to be reversible. But it’s been so many years, so many seasons… maybe the 80s will become fashionable again. Perhaps in 2020?

Now it's time for the weekend festivities: in my version of the DuKant diet, the YuKan, I'm allowed pretty much what I like at the weekend. So it's off to the pub for steak (no chips) and a nice glass of Chateauneuf du Pape. And we'll see what the damage is on Monday.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Weekend Blues

Day 44

Then: 15 stone 5 pounds (215 lbs)
Now: 14 stone 4 pounds (200 lbs)

Thanks to a weekend of excess (potatoes, several glasses of wine, even an ice cream) the dizziness has evaporated. Not so my stomach, which put on three pounds.

As the guilt struck, I reread my last post. So I do have an excuse, but I feel overstuffed and hungover: in fact, positively human again.

Back to the cardboard on Monday. And definitely no alcohol till next Friday night. Which will then leave me just two weeks before the big day.