Express & Star

Andy Richardson: Halloumi wrap haunts me at night despite weight loss

I’ve spent five years prevaricating.

Undoing the hard work with bacon and sausage

Which is long enough to birth a child and put it into school.

I went through the phase of great-it’s-lockdown-I’ll-sit-on-the-sofa-and-eat-crisps, until trousers were filed away like objects in the British History Museum and a collection of elasticated-waist numbers were procured. And, who knew you could get such cool joggers?

Man cannot live by casual wear alone, however, and so I’ve taken decisive action.

The prospect of fitting into a collection of really-rather-nice suits has become even more remote than meeting and marrying Halle Berry.

It hasn’t always been this way. For a while, I was fit. And slim. That’s what running 36 miles a week does – while running marathons as a hobby.

Then – and it seems like yesterday – 30-inch waist jeans were a breeze, until they became a little tight, and were replaced by 31, 32, 33….

The weekly mileage dropped, too, and the marathons were replaced by the occasional, half-hearted trundle on a treadmill. You get the drill. We’ve all been there. Well, maybe not Katrina Johnson-Thompson, but the rest of us.

Cardio is hard. And here’s the reason why. Or, rather, here’s the reasons why. Trying to commit to a routine while living a life devoid of it is a mug’s game. Monday and Tuesday might go well, but if Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday incorporate far-flung adventures, then I’m back to Square Minus One by Sunday.

Oh yes, and then there’s the lack of motivation. If you’ve run well and run hard over a period of years, slugging it out like a lumbering penguin is as appealing as a fig riddled with wasps. So cardio is no-no. Though one day… one day.

There’s a basic equation for weight loss which is this: consume fewer calories than you burn. And so, in the absence of a steady 30-miles-a-week, my route to Size 30’ can only follow one path: calorie deficit. I logged onto Instagram.

I was greeted by a swathe of people who’d successfully completed the transition from lard to swarve. Fine. I downloaded an intermittent fasting app and the world has become my oyster. Or onion. Actually, it’s neither. I’m too busy fasting.

I plugged into a 14-10 programme. I could eat for 14 hours – which is pretty much what I did through lockdown, except I didn’t stop for breaks – and then fast for 10. No, that’s wrong. Or maybe that was a Freudian slip. I could eat for 10 and fast for 14. I tried it. Easy. I’m good with discipline.

In my former life, I’m pretty sure I was a collie dog – obedient and eager to please. The weight started to drop. Boom.

I moved to 15-9, then 16-8, and now 17-7, which is about the limit of my endurance. Some weight-loss-freaks, sorry, some really good intermittent fasters, move the dial to 20-4. Man. That means starting breakfast at noon and wrapping up supper at 4pm. I’ve had dinners that lasted longer.

It’s worked, though, with a Saturday yo-yo, as I reward myself for the week’s hard fasting by undoing all of that good work with a bacon and sausage sandwich, on focaccia, as you do, and watch as the scales leap by 1kg in horror.

Who knew eating 200g of cured pork could yield a 2000g weight increase. But them’s the breaks.

I checked my app. It told me I was no longer obese. Great. That’s all the motivation I need to eschew a steady diet of nuts, cheese, and other dense, high-calorie snacks. The not-eating-during-the-day-thing is fine. Hard work means I don’t miss it. But the evenings are weird.

The time when I’d comfort eat, or the night-time fridge raids, where a dose of something filling would send me back to sleep, have been replaced by a sort-of zen-mastery of any unwanted stress. My crutch – food – is gone.

Now I have to think things through. Which is far less fun than an 11pm halloumi wrap smothered in Stokes’ BBQ sauce. Not that I’m obsessing.

So there we go. Four weeks in. 11lbs down. I’m still overweight. And now I’m perpetually hungry, too. Anyone got any cheese?

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