Life

Nuala McCann: The light at the end of the tunnel is the day when the small jammy bottoms fit

Arms and legs are thrown wide in a startled response. Yes that's me, star jumping off the bathroom scales in fright. 'Is everything all right in there,' asks a worried voice from the other side of the door. 'Quite,' I whisper. How did it get this bad?

The blow is lightened because the scales are reading kgs and who knows what the numbers actually mean?

THE mornings are getting lighter and my resolve grows with the golden light licking at the corners of the bedroom window. For the first time since November, I haul up my big jammy bottoms, take a deep breath and tiptoe lightly on to our bathroom scales.

It’s that moment when the baby is hauled from the dark womb into the blinding light of the operating theatre. Arms and legs are thrown wide in a startled response.

Yes that’s me, star jumping off the bathroom scales in fright, staring reality in the face.

“Is everything all right in there,” asks a worried voice from the other side of the door.

“Quite,” I whisper. How did it get this bad?

The blow is lightened because the scales are reading kgs and who knows what the numbers actually mean? But they’re big numbers.

'Tis in stones and pounds, I was raised. I could never gauge what a kilo of bananas looks like but I do know if I’ve been had on a quarter pound bag of Riley’s toffee rolls. I only walk in miles and it troubles me to cross the border and suddenly the speed signs are all in kilometres.

Back to the scene of the crime. When you’re down to one pair of trousers and the big jammy bottoms, you know you’ve put on weight.

Suffice to say, after a winter of deep content, intense sloth, whole packets of jammy dodgers and countless Bombay Blue Sapphires quaffed in front of Game of Thrones – bloody violence and gratuitous sex always send me reaching for Fruit n Nut – the scales are not lying when they groan: “Get off, fatty.”

“Weight is just more of a struggle these days,” I tell my other half.

This is so never his problem. We’re like Jack Sprat and his wife from the old nursery rhyme. He could eat no fat and she could eat no lean. He struggles to maintain a decent weight and I’m carrying the spare tyre for both of us.

As a veteran of the Scarsdale diet, the Mars Bar diet – three a day but strictly nothing else – and even the cabbage soup diet – oh, dear – I know a thing or two about losing weight.

The cabbage diet reminds me of an old joke my father used to tell us as children.

What did you have for breakfast; Answer: Pea soup

What did you have for dinner? Answer: Pea soup.

What did you have for tea? Answer: Pea soup

What did you do in the bed last night? Very predictable answer: Pee Soup.

We knew the joke off pat but we all erupted into giggles every time he told it and the bonus was my mother rolling her eyes at us. Pee was not a polite word and was not used in our house.

Still, the cabbage soup diet had the same impact on your urinary tract as the pea soup one.

Weight never used to an issue. It’s just that in my 20s, 30s and 40s, I could put on the pounds and lose them again pronto. Now, a sideways loving glance at a chocolate éclair in a bakery window adds an extra pound to the scales reading.

The slimming club beckons yet again. It is miserable, it is demeaning, but it works, Like therapy, the hardest step is getting through the door... I’m limbering up to it.

My birthday request included a book about the four pillars of health. I also invested my mother’s birthday gift in a new gym membership and returned to the rowing machine and the running machine. You never quite pick up where you left off, but it’s a start.

The longest journey begins with the first step, the wise one says. And the truth is that this is about health rather than vanity – quaffing six to eight glasses of water a day, eating at least five pieces of fruit and vegetables and passing on the bread basket.

The baguette is the enemy – in France, there is a loaf called the batard – and it surely is that.

Sugar is the enemy too. In fact, just cut out everything you enjoy and nibble like a rabbit on celery.

The light at the end of the tunnel will be the day when the small jammy bottoms fit and the big ones fall down.

Winter may have come to Game of Thrones, but summer is a-comin to Belfast, Jon Snow... me and my wee linen trousers will be all set.

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