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Once more unto the breach, dear friends …

Gerald Ingolby begins his latest New Year’s dietary/fitness campaign

It’s that time of year again – by which of course I mean New Year, i.e. January, when – as all dieticians, nutritionists and gymnasium managers know – the bulk of the self-aware British population tries to make resolutions, tighten their belt buckles, adopt better diets, give up drinking, smoking (and possibly drug-taking), flock to their local health clubs and try to make a new beginning.

For about a week to ten days max.

And then gradually gives up, citing work stress, domestic stress, social pressures – you name it – and slips back into one form or another of the maxim “If I cannot let myself go at my age, when can I?”

Until the following January.

This year I have joined the lemming-like rush into 2016 partly because, after a somewhat chequered 2015 on the diet-fitness front, and a difficult Autumn – during which both general circumstances and my dodgy hip (due a replacement shortly) prevented me getting to the gym for nearly seven weeks – towards the end of November, with January on the horizon, I took the sensible decision to ‘give up’ completely and then duly ate and drank for Team GB throughout the December festive season, this on the basis that I would be ‘beginning again’ on New Year’s Day.

Well, not actually New Year’s Day because, of course, that was at a weekend (nearly), but on Monday 4th January … because that was the first start of a new week in the new year.

At the risk of outing myself as an anally-retentive berk, I thought I’d blog an update today on my approach to dieting and fitness. It’s the sort of thing that those of who live alone do – partly precisely because we live a solitary existence and partly because it gives us the time an opportunity to delve into the recording of what we do in a spare pocket diary and then do the detailed analysis that this allows. Ask a busy man, or even any married man, and you’d find they probably don’t have the spare time!


As someone who came from a non-elite but sports-mad family, once injury or age caused me to give up regular exercise, I was bound to put on weight. The trouble is that, when you’re young you develop a large appetite (just to give you the fuel/energy for all the sport you indulge in) but, when you ‘retire’, you stop burning the calories off but you don’t lose your appetite. Hello Blimp-land!

I left school at the age of eighteen standing a shade over five feet eleven and weighing 13 stone 4 pounds (i.e. 186 pounds, more than Henry Cooper did when he fought Cassius Clay – as he then was – in June 1963) but in those days I was a fit as a butcher’s dog, or what in 1970 sporting terms passed for it.

For the subsequent four decades I regarded myself as ‘doing okay’ if I weighed 14 stones (196 pounds) or under. During that period, naturally, I could not have claimed that my bulk had stayed where, on my frame, it had been at the age of eighteen – as you can imagine, plenty of it had settled on my hips, thighs and belly.

That said, I have to confess that last year’s ‘recording’ diary shows that I weighed in on Monday 5th January 2015 at 14 stone 9 pounds (or 205 pounds, roughly what Cassius Clay weighed when he took the world heavyweight title off Sonny Liston on 25th February 1964). That sounds porky to me now, but at some point in the previous four years I had hit a staggering 15 stone 7 pounds (217 pounds), my heaviest ever. Now that really was obese …

Anyway. Eight months into 2015, via recording my daily diet and exercise regimes (the first designed to reduce my intake, the second designed to increase my activity generally) by 31st August – and my return from a relatively restrained Italian holiday – I stood on the scales at a shade under 13 stone 6 pounds (or 188 pounds). I was still just a couple of pounds over that when (as outlined above) I ‘gave up and let myself go’ in December … and had put on some five more pounds by the time I weighed in again on Monday 4th January this week at 13 stone 11 pounds (193 pounds).

As far as I am concerned, you can forget the mumbo-jumbo and excuses – dieting is purely a matter of willpower.

The fatties who deny this and/or claim that there is nothing they can do about their size – perhaps hiding behind claims that they have big bones, some kind of metabolic disorder and/or only eat because they are depressed or have some equivalent mental issue … and can therefore do nothing about it – are talking baloney.

Whenever I hear some fatty representative spouting such rubbish on the radio, I cannot help myself picturing them sitting at the microphone with a large plate piled high with sugary jam doughnuts beside them … because that’s what I imagine they’d be quite capable of consuming (without noticing the irony) at the same time as giving their opinions upon how and why their size is neither their fault, nor within their own power to do anything about.

Worst of all in my book are those who claim that being fat is perfectly harmless, or even a ‘good’ thing. They try (against all the odds and the evidence) to maintain that they love their grossly over-weight bodies and/or demand the right not to be criticised for their size.

Fact: very few grossly-fat people are happy.

98% of them would prefer to be as thin as a rake, especially if they could just wave a giant magic wand and make it so. I’d bet a penny to a pound that far fewer fatties would be prepared to make an effort, or accept that they have to impose some self-discipline even if that was the only way to achieve a svelte figure – which it probably is. Some of them might admit they don’t like being fatties, but they blame anything and anybody but themselves for their size and the apparent fact that there’s nothing they can do about it. It’s the classic ‘welfare culture’ standpoint – “I’m in a terrible state, but it’s not my fault … it’s somebody else’s responsibility … and, in the meantime, please can I have a weekly doughnut, burger and fizzy drink allowance (paid for by the taxpayer) so that I don’t feel bad about myself …”

Anyway, taken in the round, I don’t mind people being fat if they want to be, or alternatively just allow themselves to become obese.

Why? Well, simply because – given all the health issues that come with over-eating – they’re going to shorten their lives by a significant margin and thus make a positive personal contribution to the ongoing problem of the UK’s government pension that may or may not be sustainable based upon current taxation rates.


My other bad habit in 2015 was that of smoking somewhere between two and five small Henry Winterman cigars per day. I like to claim that I don’t have an addictive personality (and that therefore I never actually have a smoking ‘habit’ as such) and that therefore – as night follows day – I can give up smoking anytime I like at the drop of a hat.

Accordingly, this week has left me in the position of ‘put up or shut up’ on my smoking.

On Sunday night, as the clock moved to 2340 hours, I reached my drawing room computer table dressed in my pyjamas and slippers, made myself my usual vat of black coffee to ‘wake up my brain’ … and then smoked two of the little blighters before midnight metaphorically struck.

And have not smoked another since – as I type, almost 48 hours later.

Since going ‘cold turkey’ I have had had about a dozen “wouldn’t it be pleasant just to have a post-lunch, or post-something, cheroot …” moments, however none of them have troubled my resolve enough to make me break my state of abstinence.

I’ll report further as I go …

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About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts