Sunday, January 29, 2012

A (Far Too) Big Birthday

Day -1

Now: 216lbs (15st 6 lbs)

I do hope this wretched week crawls by. In fact, I’ll be quite happy if Thursday doesn’t bother turning up at all. I’d like it to be Wednesday 1st February for quite a few years – until my brain has caught up with my age, that is. For on Thursday I’m due to reach the terrible milestone that marks the beginning of my sixties.

Why on earth do we pretend to celebrate big birthdays? They take years off your life. On my 40th, I took over a Russian restaurant in Chelsea and about 100 friends and I sampled every one of the 76 vodkas in the bar. I don’t remember a lot about what followed. Apparently we all decamped to my flat at four in the morning. I woke up at midday to find that my friend Rowland Rivron had spilt black coffee all over the white shagpile carpet and upended every item of furniture, including the wardrobes and the grand piano. It took me a week to recover; the carpet never did.

My 50th was rather less wild but just as exhausting. Having discovered a talent for cooking, I decided to cater my own dinner party for 100 friends and family. It was a complicated four-course meal, so I spent most of the evening in the kitchen searing scallops. It was stressful beyond belief. Rowland was there again: but by now he was married with children, so he simply made a rude speech about how ancient I’d become. Time tempers the wildest spirit. Since my 40th birthday I've managed to add a pound to my weight for each year of my indolent, exercise-free life. 

I read somewhere that having another child in your fifties makes you feel younger. Sure, I’ve rediscovered the joys of jigsaws, and I can recite whole episodes of Peppa Pig, but since Izzy arrived, I can’t say it’s been exactly rejuvenating. Constant toddler-carrying hasn’t removed my middle-aged spread, instead it’s given me a permanent twinge that feels suspiciously like a need for a hip replacement.

Two parcels arrived this morning and I groaned: people are already remembering the event I’m determined to ignore. The first was from my eldest daughter, with strict instructions not to open till “the big day”. Of course I immediately tore it open.

Inside was a book called “The 4-Hour Work Week: How to Escape the 9-5 and Join the New Rich”. It’s a best-seller, apparently – no wonder the author can enjoy a 4-Hour Work Week. I immediately resolved to write a book called “Do No Work At All And Make A Million.” Chapter One: Write book called “Do No Work At All And Make A Million”. Chapter Two: Wait for royalty cheques and put your feet up.

The second package turned out to be three small jars of pills, sent to me by a very nice chap I met on holiday. He’s a doctor: well he has a medical degree and he’s using the qualification to make himself a fortune. He’s invented some new diet product that’s getting people excited in America. Of course, I offered to test it for him: if you’d seen me on the beach in St Lucia, you’ll know why. Talk about scaring the locals.

It’s called RealDose Weight Loss Formula No 1 and the label says it has ingredients clinically proven to “Accelerate fat burning, Reduce appetite, Increase energy and stamina and Enhance mood”. Now we’re talking.

In truth, there’s a tiny asterisk next to each claim that leads to some small print warning that “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.” Well, they’re about to be evaluated by me.

A couple of years ago I started this blog and lost 20 pounds in 64 days. Then I had a target: my wife had booked a photographer to take a family album.  The pictures of a 195-pound me bedeck the house, like images of some distant and long-lost cousin.

The weight took quite a while to return.  Indeed I entered 2011 at just a little over 200 pounds.  A year later I've added back all I lost.  That's why I have no photographs of me on the beach in St Lucia, but plenty of the svelte Dr Steven Sisskind and his delightful family.

Over dinner one night I offered to test out his formula and Steve agreed to send me three months' supply.  I'll start taking the pills tomorrow morning:  one before each meal.  Although I doubt I can lose ten years by Thursday, or even 10 ounces, I've set myself some rules.  I'm cutting out potatoes, bread and ice cream.  Everything else stays as normal.  I shall weigh myself each day.  And I shall be honest.

It's going to be difficult for the first week.  On Wednesday I have a black tie banquet to attend; on Thursday nothing will stop me enjoying a large bowl of birthday seafood pasta and a large bottle of Sardinian wine in my favourite Italian restaurant;  and this weekend Jo and I are going to spend two nights in a Lake District hotel with a Michelin starred restaurant.  Heavy rain is forecast:  there will be nothing to do but eat the most wonderful gourmet food.  So I doubt Dr Sisskind's diet pills will have much effect for a while.  But over time I hope we'll win through together, and on May 1st I shall post a new picture.  Wish us luck. 


  1. I have just watched the promotional video for this product. Slick, credible, not too many wild promises. Dr. Sisskind was calm and believable. Pretty good viewing. If I was not an established cynic I would have been clicking the buy now button as soon as I reached it. I found the video because I was hoping to check out Dr. Sisskind, so having found this blog and knowing that I know your name I thought this might prove interesting. Not least because I still consider the product too expensive to risk my money on. Of course this blog could be written by someone who has stolen your identity to support what may just be another diet product hype, weightloss=loadsa money :o) especially for the gullible consumer (like I said, I am a cynic).

    You don't seem to have got off to a good start :o) but I will bookmark and await the denouement in May, although it would be very helpful if you posted a progress report along the way, May is a long time off.

    If you have decided not to bother, you can always send me the freebie and I promise to take the risk for you as well as blogging the results.

  2. Yes, it is me! And I shall be publishing regular updates. The combined barriers of my sixtieth birthday, a Valentine's weekend in a hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant (see Blog From The North), and my Mum's 91st birthday celebration - another "tasting menu" - have conspired against me.

    But, as of last night, I'm back on track - and I can confirm that the pills are making me much happier in my dietetic misery than in previous failed attempts.

    What I really need to do is curb the alcohol - the habit of a lifetime of a couple of glasses of red as soon as Izzy has gone to bed I'm finding really hard to break. But, I promise I shall be honest, even if not particularly slim.

  3. Hurray, that suggests that the rhodiola may be working, just 3 more to evaluate. A fail on the willpower and the lure of alcohol alas.

    Maybe a glance through Dr. John Briffa's blog would help, you're part way there according to him by giving up the ice-cream, potatoes (chips, I want chips) and, was it bread? Only rice and pasta and you can launch a double pronged attack on the lard store :o).

    I sympathise. Life without carbs is a lonely road. Apart from the millions who embark on Atkins, no one else can remotely guess at your suffering. I love butter, on bread and butter on potatoes, forbidden, and cream and cheese with more than a little pasta, also forbidden. He does say low carb. rather than no carb. but to cheat with just a little is to open the floodgates of starchy heaven. Sigh, if these pills do it for you, I will be second in the queue. Fingers crossed for you; I, too, am approaching a birthday and have carried this weight (cue the Beatles!) for far too long.

  4. Looking forward to seeing and hearing about your progress.