To dieting, and I see that Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, the politician not the golfer, is to publish a book about his extraordinary weight-loss... wait for it... journey.
The snappily titled “Downsizing: How I Lost Eight Stone, Reversed my Diabetes and Regained my Health” will be available next January around the time lots of people will be thinking about their weight having gorged their way through Chocolate December, which isn’t a thing – yet.
I don’t know if Tom-not-the-golfer, has other books planned but I’d pay top dollar to read any follow=up along the lines of “Car Keys: How I Lost Them, Ordered a New Set, Then found them Again” or perhaps something about a guy called Jeremy and the demise of the Labour Party. Anyway, good luck to you Tom and well done. He deserves to be proud of his achievement and I find it heartening to see pictures of him with a beatific smile on what used to be his big red pus, posing in a Fred Perry polo shirt with the top button done, old skool like a kiddy Mod from the 1980s.
Tom was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2017, aged 50, and this health scare was the wake-up call that propelled him into action after 30 years of putting on weight and yo-yo dieting. He says that “I just got to the point of thinking I was a lazy, greedy person. I’d embedded that notion in myself because I just couldn’t lose weight.”
I imagine Tom had adopted the mindset that his self-induced obesity nightmare wasn’t really happening to him and would miraculously sort itself out at a date in the future – while he continued to mainline the pizza and drink rivers of Coke.
Then he got the shock of his life when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which was really no surprise to the rest of us and tends to happen when someone hits the 22-stone mark.
Tom to his credit, although he really had no choice, cut out sugar, processed foods in plastic trays and almost all starchy carbohydrates.
The affirmative action he took came in the form of the Bulletproof Diet, which of course originated in the States and involves you drinking black coffee with grass-fed unsalted butter and coconut oil instead of breakfast – after an overnight fast.
Real fun huh? This keto-style diet – low in carbs and high in fat – has proved popular among slimmers and desperate celebrity types, which may or may not be a future career path for Tom.
I can relate to Tom as I started my own weight-loss journey this week by going back on the 5:2 diet. This was all the rage a few years back when Dr Michael Mosley brought the concept of intermittent fasting (IF) to our attention on a BBC programme and subsequent recipe book.
On the five non-fasting days, you eat the recommended daily amount which is around 2,400 calories for a man and 2,000 for a woman and, on the fasting days, you eat just 800.
The 800 calories are ideally to be made up of lean protein, vegetables and fruit but I’ve worked out that this could be made up of six bags of original Mini Cheddars with around 24 calories left to play with. That takes care of the chewing gum and litre of diet coke I need to get through the torture of a fasting day before retiring to bed at 7.30pm.
The propect of eating six packets of Mini Cheddars seems not just doable but eminently enjoyable given that cheese powder is the crack cocaine of the crisp world but I’m guessing that’s not how the 5:2 is meant to be done.
In fact I know it’s not as, a couple of years back, I did it before for around six months and lost the best part of a whopping four pounds. But I’ve learnt from my mistakes and I can see now that you’re not meant to celebrate the day after a fasting day by having 10 pints of lager, two strawberry daiquiris, 20 Marlboro Lights and a fish supper with a smoked sausage chaser.
Remember – nothing tastes like skinny feels. But fret not, there’s no Tom Watson-style radical weight-loss required here dear reader – no siree! One is merely looking to drop around half a stone from 14st 7lb to under the 14 mark in old money (before some bright spark decided to measure weight in kilos – probably the same one who decided we talk about the weather in Celsius rather than Fahrenheit, meaning I’ve got to double everything and add 28 to find out how hot it is).
However, that’s still nowhere near enough weight to shed as, according to the BMI calculator, I’m on the cusp of obesity at 5ft 9in in my Cuban heels and should aim to be between 8st 13lb and 12st 1lb which is the healthy range for a man of my stature. This would mean weighing in around the same as a flat-racing jockey at the lower end of the scale and your average professional footballer towards the top.
Most of us would treat this with scorn and from where I’m slouching it doesn’t seem possible. I use the cross-trainer at the local gym four times a week and I’ve started yoga – for Pete’s sake.
But there’s no escape from the harsh reality of our ideal height/weight ratio in terms of our general well-being and your risk of getting pretty much every cancer and other health horrors drastically reduces if you stay within your range.
Doctors and A-type skinny folk who wear gillets made by that Scottish mountaineering guy Rab (Carrington) understand this better than the rest of us mere mortals and when was the last time you saw a fat GP?