I am probably not thin enough to be writing a diet book. Which is why this isn’t one. Don’t they all say that! The writers of diets do their best to avoid the word. They may call it an ‘Eating Plan’, a ‘Whole New Approach’, or put the emphasis on a change of ‘Lifestyle’. But scratch the surface and underneath they’ve all got the same bad news. You’ve got to stop eating anything nice! Typically, there’s a skinny bird on the front cover, or some mumbo jumbo science on the back and a strap line telling you you’ll never be deprived. They use words like ‘permanent’ and ‘healthy’. They tell you that, after reading these particular pearls of wisdom, you need never go on a diet again…
At this point, you know it’s going to be bunkum. Do these fine works, on any of their 350 pages (largely comprised of repeating themselves), ever recommend sitting down with a bottle of Chablis and a packet of Kettle Chips? Do they suggest on Day Four of Lose A Stone and Never Feel Hungry that a Danish pastry is the way to go? Any mention of it being just fine to mop up fourteen cold chips and half a fish finger from the kids’ plates?
Whichever way you look at it, it is all about cutting down. Books like that occasionally allow a ‘Daily Treat’. One fun-sized Mars Bar, say, or a small glass of dry white wine. What’s fun about a chocolate bar an inch long? Where is the point in ONE glass of wine? We’re not stupid. However much we may bluster about slow metabolisms and big bones and layers of lard running in the family, even those of us (me) with absolutely zilch in the understanding-science department, can secretly grasp the basic equation regarding portions in and expenditure of energy out. Namely: If what goes in is greater than what goes out, you get fat. If what goes in equals what goes out, you stay the same (this may equal above). If what goes in is less than the sum of what goes out you get thin (hurrah!).
Though maybe not ‘hurrah’ for long, because, they hasten to tell us, the moment you go back to eating anything at all that you like, you’ll be waddling again. Whole volumes have been written about how, when you drastically reduce your calories, your body thinks it’s starving (and so do you!) and your metabolism slows down so it can start conserving fat.
Then, the minute you start collapsing with malnutrition and fall on a doughnut, it packs it away in a nice wobbly deposit on your bum before you can say: GI index! Depressing innit?
That’s why there’s all this emphasis on a ‘change of lifestyle’. It’s short-hand for never, ever, eat what you really want, again. I am here to tell you, you can. I am here to save you!
I am not super-thin but neither am I morbidly obese. Which, considering my unhealthy career choice (not for nothing did I coin the term ‘Writer’s Bottom’), vast consumption of wine, crisps and chocolate and somewhat erratic approach to exercise, is a small miracle. Depending on which set of charts I use and how much I fudge my height, I am generally within ‘normal’ parameters; I have a BMI of 22 ish, a hip to waist ratio that passes muster with the medical profession and there was a day, once, when I was wearing black and the sort of underwear that crushes your internal organs, when I was even described as ‘slim’.
If I need to, I can quickly lose half a stone, and the rest of the time, there are small steps I take to keep that writer’s backside at bay. I am going to share these with you here.
As a disclaimer, I must point out that I am not a nutritionist, or a doctor and if you are truly obese and needing three airline seats there is little I can do except to suggest you think about a gastric band and don’t wear white leggings.
But if your arse is merely on the large side and you’re feeling a little podgy round the edges, welcome to my world. Let us first comfort ourselves with the fact that whoever said that older women had to choose between their figure or their face was spot on. A bit of fat makes you look younger.
Let us also hail the research that says a big bottom can be a healthy life choice: those with plenty of gluteofemoral fat – that’s a lard arse to you and me – are set for a riper old age than those with a ballooning belly.
Let us remember that Marilyn Monroe was famously a size sixteen. And that just because you don’t get mistaken for Kate Moss it doesn’t mean you’re an elephant with a weight issue.
But we all want to shape up from time to time – after Christmas and Easter; before the summer; when a wedding’s coming up or your thin friend is having a party; any time one needs to bare arms.
Or a least, we want to look as if we have. These tips may help.
One hundred helpful and hilarious tips for fighting the flab and looking your best from Jane Wenham-Jones, best-selling author and columnist.
“My BMI is 22, my hip to waist ratio passes muster with the medical profession and given the right light, when wearing the right underwear, I have even been referred to “slim”. A small miracle given my alcohol intake, addiction to crisps and erratic approach to exercise….”
So speaks Jane Wenham-Jones, the author who coined the term “Writer’s Bottom”. Here, she brings you her top 100 tips for keeping a spreading rear end at bay. Quirky, hilarious, uplifting, occasionally bizarre, every one of these tried-and-tested methods will have you looking and feeling slimmer and fitter – even with a glass in your hand…