You know you’re fat when a media impresario walks up to you at a cocktail party, offers you his card and says, “Call me if you want my gastric band surgeon’s number.”
Or if you work up a sweat after leading the dogs to the mailbox. Or when you’re invited to a posh lunch and nothing fits out of your pre-pandemic wardrobe.
After lockdown restrictions ended, my first lunch was at a member club that requires a shirt, jacket, and tie. The only way to adhere to the dress code was to wear a button-down shirt (larger neck size) with a tie loosely wrapped around your neck with the top buttons open. My double-breasted jacket was worn single with an elastic belt to prevent pants from exploding. A sad situation.
While the nation was concerned about being pinged, I suffered from a slightly different pingdemia – shirt buttons peeled off as they tightened under my increasing girth. There is no easy way to say this. At 51 years of age, I shouldn’t weigh 18 kilos (that’s 118 kg of new money).
I have successfully lost weight in the past despite having lived my life through thin and fat phases. Dieting is a mental game. If you want to lose weight, this is what you need to keep in mind. All day. Every day. All of that yo-yo could explain why the diet industry is worth about £ 2 billion to the UK economy each year and an estimated £ 140 billion globally.
So how did I get into this mess? Working from home during the initial lockdown, I had a good routine of long dog walks, a flowering vegetable patch, and of course, not going out.
But the boredom of further lockdowns led to takeaways and fun shopping trips to fill the pantry. My carb load extended to making my own bagels and pizza dough. As for the candy, chips and chocolate. . . Did I mention I have the palate of an eight year old? Intervention was required by June of this year.
There are some so called “easy” weight loss solutions. A gastric band costs between £ 5,000 and £ 8,000. While it undeniably works, some of the potential side effects clearly sound inedible. What’s the point of getting a body suitable for the beach if it’s scarred and unsightly? I can also just get a few tattoos. Anyway, many of the people I know who have had the procedure spend most of their waking hours grazing in order to defeat the system.
Recently, one of my brothers had a very successful degreasing experience with Balance Box, a company that offers a “complete” diet solution that is delivered to your door. This costs from € 24.99 per day. For a 12 week program that’s well over £ 2,000, which seems a little too high to me.
Yes, if you stick to your diet you will lose weight. But the day you reach your destination and stop the boxes, you will likely go back to your old habits and start piling the pounds back on. We’ve all seen this movie (usually with ice cream and popcorn accompaniment too).
On a few occasions in my life, my mother (aka The Wendy) has trilled in my deaf ears that nutritional issues are getting out of hand. This time she was joined by the other half – or should I say another third – who feared that they would soon become the other quarter. Sip.
The Wendy said that 12 years ago my father had what she called a “pants problem,” in the sense that none of them suited him anymore. He had successfully dieted with the help of a nutritionist named Michele (with an “l”). “Why don’t you call her?”
Although nothing is forbidden, she told me, if you want to lose weight, then nothing tasty, processed, or take away is recommended
I agreed and for once, The Wendy was silenced and quickly sent me the number before I changed my mind.
Michele (with an “l”) showed up at the appointed time with her medical scales, leaflets explaining her nutritional principles and a notebook in which you have to write down everything you eat. Although nothing is taboo, she told me, if you want to lose weight, nothing tasty, processed, or take away is recommended.
The first week is always the toughest. Until you’ve trained your friends, it may be safer to turn down their generous offers. But Michele had a lot of tips for eating at home and in the restaurant.
She advised me to replace my red meat with fish and stated, “When it swims, it makes you slim”. Smart comments like cows can swim, don’t wash with her. You get an eye roll.
Mixing proteins and carbohydrates should be avoided, but consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is recommended. This may seem obvious, but their £ 30 per visit counseling sessions – and the accountability of their weighing – are invaluable.
And it’s important to have goals. For the first time in ages, I’ve planned a vacation abroad. I don’t want people walking towards me on the beach with wet towels before they try to drag me back into the water.
Later that year, I’m the MC at the wedding of James McVey (lead guitarist on The Vamps) and his fiancée Kirstie. Your friends are pop stars, celebrities, and beautiful young people. I don’t want to be Billy Bunter on the microphone.
The older I get, the more I realize that health cannot be taken for granted. But there are as many fats as me, a Frankfurt group of tinkerers has developed the Solactive Obesity Index, which “tracks the performance of companies that benefit from the care of the obese” (amusingly, the Bloomberg ticker is “SLIM ID”).
The index hovers record highs thanks to repeated bans reflecting the performance of companies including healthcare providers, diet pill and insulin pump manufacturers, and plus size clothing providers.
One surprising thing about obesity is making money. It’s not just the companies we know in the food, fitness kits, and weight loss sectors, but also the ones that operate minimally invasive medical device treatments for the treatment of cardio-cerebrovascular and peripheral vascular disease such as Lifetech Scientific Corporation or Microport.
And on drugs to help people in medical trouble like Hua Medicine, a Chinese company focused on diabetes treatments. Since we’re looking for more interesting investment opportunities, this index is a niche to watch out for. After all, it has risen since the pandemic as populations around the world have inflated under lockdowns.
But I don’t want to become another statistic. Seven weeks later, I’ve lost over 12 pounds – nearly two pounds of old money and over a third of my weight loss goal. I don’t look fat anymore. I feel a lot better and at least some of my clothes fit.
But this is a marathon, not a sprint (and it’s been a long time since I’ve tried one of these). All the money I spent on losing weight saves me buying a new XXL wardrobe. But I’m afraid I’ll need a few more glasses of champagne at the weekend. They’re worth the inevitable roll of your eyes.
James Max is a radio host and real estate expert. The views expressed are personal. Twitter: @thejamesmax