The Fresser

Less fress

I'm in training and I've got a secret weapon


In just under 19 weeks we will celebrate my son’s bar mitzvah.

We’ll stand proudly next to him as he reads the parashah. Of course, my thoughts have turned to the obligatory photos — the record that we (and he) will have forever of his special day. And how I’ll look in them.

The last time I faced the prospect of a major photo shoot (and being in the spotlight) was for my wedding day. I ran, did some Pilates and ate a bit less. The pounds fell off and I was relatively svelte in my designer white dress.

Fifteen years on and I’m more melt than svelte. My body telling the story of the last few years — my once slender middle has been ‘softened’ into post-baby tummy, topped with a layer of middle-aged spread. I know I’m immensely blessed to have had children, but cushion was not quite the look I was channelling.

At 52, getting rid of that padding, and toning  up the barmitzvah wings, is definitely not as easy as it used to be. Calorie reduction plus exercise yields far slower results these days.

So, I’ve brought in the big guns. Gemma ‘FitBuddie’ Hirsch has been added to the contacts on my phone. She’s a personal trainer, who also works with groups to help them change the way they eat while upping their exercise. A group of friends were joining, so I tagged along for the 12-week programme, also hoping it will help my diminished will power. And, let’s face it, I’m not really in the right job for abstinence.

Her eating plan — I refuse to call it a diet, especially in front of my 10 year old daughter — is sensible. A balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates and enough veggies to make Peter Rabbit dance. It’s making me think about what’s on my plate, and I’m filling up with the right foods, so should not be snacking or overeating. I'm really enjoying my meals. 

I’m still prone to the odd (mindless) graze in my empty kitchen of an evening, but knowing I’m accountable — we message her our weights and body fat percentages every fortnight —does help me rein it in.

The numbers are sent privately — no body shaming here — having measured them with swish new Bluetooth enable scales she advised us to buy. We also sent photos of ourselves in gym kit, so she (and we) can track our progress. The fancy new scales also tell us what percentage of our body is muscle. I was horrified to find my body fat too high and muscle, too low. At my age, I need to be building my muscles, so the programme is also an investment in my future health.

What I love is that it's not just about losing pounds, it's about getting that muscle percentage up. Gemma sends us a new set of exercises every fortnight that we're meant to do at least five times a week. They're tough. We also need to do a minimum of 12,000 steps a day - I do that most days anyway, so not a problem. I'm just trying to do more. 

With some will power, the numbers are improving. What I love is having Gemma (and the other group members) virtually at my side. We share photos of each of our meals — I’m loving seeing what other women are eating for theirs.  (Some of them have lost considerable amounts of weight.) 

If any of us have a meal out - which is more frequent now we're on the road to release from lockdown - Gemma's on hand to help us pick a healthy option. In my job, and with years of keeping an eye on healthy eating, I’m pretty all over the subject, but it helps to have someone looking over my shoulder.

Don’t tell Gemma, but the grazing hasn’t completely gone. Though I suspect that as the weeks tick by, the pending deadline will help with that part. You need a nosh when stressing about marquee management. 

If I was 100 percent committed the stats may move faster, but slow and steady is what I’m aiming for. My goal is to be proud of my October self but, more importantly, to have retrained my eating so that the cycle of losing and gaining, however small, is history by the time my younger child celebrates her bat mitzvah in two years’ time.

Find Gemma and her Fitbuddie programme here

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