I’ve done them all. Rosemary Conley. WeightWatchers. Slimming World. The GI Diet. Calorie Counting, Paul what-his-face’s ‘I Can Make You Thin’ and, most recently (and I only lasted a day before I broke) the fasting diet.
I have been on diet since I was 12 years old (when then a diet simply meant not taking any sugar in my tea any more) which means that as of this year I have been on a diet for 25 years.
A whole quarter of a century of thinking about food, feeling guilty about food, making new starts (each Monday) and wracking myself with guilt when it breaks (each Wednesday).
I am, quite naturally, not lighter than I was when I was 12. I’m not one of those people who is naturally slim anyway - but I won’t pull the metabolism/ big boned card. The truth is there is probably a great deal of gluttony involved - but let’s just say I’m nowhere near the size I imagined I would be as my mid 30s turn into my late thirties and the big 4-0 starts to loom on the horizon.
I know there will be people reading this now who will be shrugging their shoulders or shaking their fists with rage thinking “Sure it’s just a matter of eating less and moving around more. It’s not rocket science.”
And it’s not. We all know - without having to go to any slimming club and endure the humiliation of being weighed in front of another person and waiting to see if they smile or frown - that weight loss does indeed come down to eating less and moving more. I’m not an unintelligent person - I know what I should be doing - and yet, it is so hard at times to do it.
This is why I’ve tried so many of these diets, with varying success. I’ve lost 2 stone by essentially starving myself (I was 18... starving yourself was the done thing).
I have lost significant amounts of weight with WeightWatchers, Slimming World, the GI Diet and Rosemary Conley - but struggled to maintain the regimes long term.
After a period of resisting or significantly reducing my intake of bread, cheese, real butter, wine and chocolate there is a part of me which always rebels, While my sensible head tells me the fruit salad for breakfast will do my just grand, there is another part of me which finds myself in the queue at Centra on the Strand Road ordering a sausage bap and salivating at the thought.
Call me crazy, but some sliced melon and a strawberry does not have the same satisfying qualities as a couple of sausages coated in melted butter between a fresh floury bap.
In fact the most successful “diet” I was ever on was the pregnancy “boke your anatomy for nine months hyperemesis” diet where I could not so much as look at food which saw me finish my pregnancy (with baby and all on board) a stone lighter than when I started... but it’s not one I wish to relive any time soon.
So here we are, facing the fact that (thanks to a recent picture in which it looked as if someone had stuck a bicycle pump up my rear end and inflated me to a point of near bursting) that I need to do something. Again.
I’ll admit my realisation that the time has come again has come at a time when it seems as if you can’t turn sideways without seeing an ad (on the TV, in magazines, on billboards) telling you how very, very bold and bad it is to be overweight. For a while I ignored the message, shouted obscenities at the billboards or turned the channel on the TV. I wrote inner ranting monologues in my head about how overweight people are being demonised as lazy and slovenly and it just wasn’t fair.
I turned to inspirational curvaceous women such as Dawn French, Fern Britton, Jennifer Hudson - even Fizz from Coronation Street - and then they all lost weight and looked fabulous and I started to wonder why I had become so hell bent on rebelling against what I know is good for me.
So, here we go again. And again I say it won’t be easy. And again I know there will be bumps in the road.
Again I know people will be reading this column and shaking their heads and saying “Here she goes again - sure she never sticks at anything”. I know all this because there is a wee voice in my head whispering all the same thoughts in my ear - willing me to fail just so that it can “I told you so”.
But recent health worries have led me to believe there is only so long I can bury my head in the sand (or the bucket of sweet popcorn or family bag of Maltesers).
This column is, I suppose, a way of motivating myself. By putting it out there so that if you see in a queue for a sausage bap or buying a Wispa in the local shop you can give me a bad look or challenge me to mind myself.
And maybe it will encourage other people to feel less alone and less daunted at the prospect of what lies ahead.
And Lord knows, it might even encourage me to start exercising again...
Sure it can’t help but to give this moving more and eating less carry on a go.