The Vanishing Breastplate of Lard

Man in a Palm Tree (2).jpg

Weight - 91kg*.  Alcohol units – 0 (and that’s just last night), OK, probably 20 for the week. Near-death incidents while cycling – 1, on a roundabout in Richmond Park, when an old dear (well, older than me), assumed I wouldn’t be hard on the tail of a car coming from her right. Aiie! I did shout at her, though not particularly angrily, because there was nobody coming the other way and it is a little unseemly mouthing off at an 75-year old. Injuries – unexpectedly injury free


Well, that’s another 2kg gone this week. But woe, almost nothing to eat (other than nectarines, plums and flat peaches and they hardly count). I should add at this point that losing weight – while it features as something important in some other people’s lives - in my case has nothing glorious, even honourable, about it. It is merely the opposite of gluttony (reinforced by lots of exercise, obviously). But the breastplate of lard is gradually… evaporating. Or whatever typical male-pattern fat does as it disappears.

It has had other effects as well, some ‘interesting’ in a vulgar, getting rid of the detritus in your keyboard sort of a way, others just irritating. As I thin down, so my new-found lack of robustness has set off a series of muscle-pulls. They have even been playing tag around my body, stopping a righteous exerciser from getting out there and fulfilling life’s true path.

It started with a pull in my right calf. Ok, nothing new in that, it must have happened a hundred times over the years, but it meant a week off when I was trying to start running again. Then a bit of a catastrophe, my left Achilles went ping. Not much running over the coming weeks, then. And it’s what this IGO event in Montana consists of principally, I understand…

So cycling is the next best option, or swimming (yes I have to do quite a bit of that). And you’d think that after 15 years of sitting in the same position on a saddle I might be reasonably robust. Oh no. The touch-tag of muscle pulls moved up to my right thigh, buried somewhere deep in there. And since then it has been on a royal progression down the other leg, via my left thigh and calf. So now tell me why I want to be thin.

And hey, there’s a strange pain on the outside of my calves. It’s not a strain, just the slight soreness of overuse. But it feels as though something is forming there. Am I about to sprout wings? Like Hermes?

Each time it happens, Physio Joe patiently looks me over, puts me flat on the couch and articulates me (sometimes I wonder if he’s experimenting with trying to fold people into a different dimension, or something – would I evaporate and appear on Planet Physio, with miraculously improved bendability?). And then he carries out those cruel stretches which pinpoint some obscure muscle and turn it to fire.

But if you can detect a touch of angry defiance at being laid low, it’s small beer to the other result of this whole thinnifer thing. People keep commenting on my appearance:

“Ooooh, you’re looking so thin…”

 With so much enthusiasm that I assume they consider me an improved human being. I might ask why. I was very happy, and generally a jolly lardy bloke, altogether. I bet they wouldn’t start to comment if I suddenly became a funnier human being, or kinder, or more imaginative. At least I’d have improved in some more admirable way.

I wondered what people find good about it. So I asked, obviously. One reckoned that it was a good thing that I was looking after myself better. Hmmm… Others that it was simply that they preferred me thin. (OK, OK, cynic me, I suspect that this is a projection of what they are or would like to be themselves, apparently what we should be.) One logical conclusion of which is that I am now more estimable in life’s essential pursuits, presumably happiness and the chase for genetic transfer. Or what’s it all for? No, let’s leave that. More shaggable? Me? I don;t think so. In the end the only person who came up with a good answer was the doctor, who looked at me with a practiced eye and said it was because I looked well. And he’d know. Ho hum.

I should probably admit, now that I carry less weight, and as I dial the effort back up to a nine again, I am probably cycling faster – well, the sport is all about weight. Have you ever looked at pro cyclists’ arms? They’re a horrible sight.

And therein lies one of the vulgarly fascinating effects of losing weight… You'll know how cyclists who want to go really quickly put their hands on the lower part of the drop handlebars. Well, for years this has been impossible for me, because, well…  the belly has been in the way. Not now. I can actually lean forward and…well… go faster. Maybe I really am sprouting wings…


*With apologies to Bridget Jones