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.