155. That is not my age. Sadly, it's not even my IQ. That is the number of weight-loss articles a woman in my gym has read this year. Given that we are only 40 days into 2009, it does not bode well for the rest of the year. I am sensing a pattern.
I get it. Really I do. It’s a whole new phase on the cosmic chart. Earth has finally made its orbit around the sun. We all feel like we’ve eaten our body weight in Cadbury’s celebrations (particularly when there was a buy two boxes for the price of one in Morrison’s). The start of a new year is fresh, exciting. As Big Ben chimes twelve and a brand spanking New Year is celebrated around the world, we mentally free ourselves from stale thoughts. Endless possibilities are, well, possible. Our minds somehow equate a new year to a new you. Inevitably, this new you is about 2 or 3 stone lighter, with a slightly perkier bottom.
The media knows this. Businesses do too. They’ve cottoned on to our weird solar calendar way of thinking and are using it against us. I joined my gym back in September and for four months I exercised in perfect bliss. Then something happened. January. From the 2nd day of 2009, I had to battle my way into the gym’s car park, fight (not swim) my way along the lengths of the pool and queue twenty minutes for a treadmill. Besides perfecting my road rage, I doubt I’ve improved my health at all.
Then there are the magazines, tricky little things. Oh, they masquerade as helpful tools in your pledge to get fit with headlines such as, ‘I lost 6st and you can too!’ or ‘Eat chocolate and still lose weight!’ But turn those pages and all you see are already slender sized 12 celebrities slimming to a size 8. (Mmm...tongue tied much?) Behind those hunger-crazed smiles are teams of personal trainers, dieticians and stylists at their beck and call. The headlines ‘I only lost 7lbs because I pay a trainer £300 an hour and a chef cooks all my meals’ doesn’t really grab you as much. Truth isn’t reader friendly.
I fear I am on sensory-overload. Weight loss pictures flitter on TVs and rush past me on the sides of buses. Images of men and women over-doing the lunges on the Powerplate are burned on my retinas. I see them squat and lunge with every blink of my eye. Women at the checkout in Sainsbury's randomly start moaning to me about how hungry they are; their eyes twitch in tune to the rumblings of their stomachs. I am haunted. Hunted. Hovering at breaking point.
Besides wearing a blindfold in the gym and every time I walk past the magazine aisle, what can I do? What can we do? I have an idea. Let the media continue their assault on our body image. Let the women in Sainsbury's moan about being hungry. Let the New Year get fit-get healthy phase fizzle out by mid-march. But while that happens, let's just eat cake! It might not do anything for my hips but it sure tastes good.