ACOUPLE OF months ago I had a health check. It went pretty well. All my organs were still intact and my weight was more or less what it should be.
The doctor did add, in a conversational kind of way, that I was getting to the age where I was probably finding it a bit tougher to keep my weight down.
“Actually,” I replied, “I haven’t really noticed any problems at all. My weight never seems to go up that much.”
Clearly, the weight-loss gods were listening and took objection to my hubris, because two weeks later I had put on two kilos, and a couple of weeks after that, a few more.
Why the sudden weight gain? Well, when a medical authority tells you that you might struggle to maintain your weight, there is a tendency to panic and suddenly get fat. There was also the fact that I was experimenting with Ashkenazi food during this period for a feature I was writing and had developed a problematic salt-beef sandwich habit.
Clearly I needed go cold turkey, or at least cold turkey sandwich, because my reading told me that if I left my body to its own devices I could be in trouble.
After the age of 40, two things happen — you become progressively less active, which means that calories which were formerly burnt off are now being converted into adipose tissue — ie lard.
Not just that — the muscles shrink and your bones lose density while the fatty bits get more lumpy. So you can step on the scales and be exactly the same weight as you were 10 years previously, but actually be carrying a paunch.
If I was a woman, I would know exactly what to do — invest in Ryvita and low-fat cream cheese, while cutting back on the chocolate and white wine.
But I’m not a woman — despite my lumpy bits — and anyway, according to a book I am reading at the moment, dieting makes you fat.
I am having to face the fact that I am older than I used to be. Not just that — I’m going to get a lot older still. Not a great prospect, but a lot better than the alternative.
So is there anything to be done to turn back the clock? I have explored methods of weight reduction that don’t make you appear effeminate. Of these, I like the sound of the caveman diet. This means eating only what they ate in the Stone Age — the kind of protein you can trap yourself (hopefully there will be a shochet on hand to dispatch it), plus berries and roots. Apparently everyone was and healthy back then, although to be fair, few of them lived past 27.
Seeing as I can’t find any record of Stone Age sushi, I am going to pass. But I could go low-carb. There is proven weight loss in this method and no obvious downsides as long as you don’t worry too much about kidney stones and cancer.
However, my preferred route is to follow the example of a South American tribe I have been reading about. Even when they get really old — over 45 — they are still amazingly healthy, mainly because they run everywhere and exist on a simple diet based on cornmeal.
I can follow that without any trouble. Cornmeal is in essence the same as polenta — I’m thinking slapup Italian meal, washed down with a bottle of red, followed by a brisk walk home.
Watch out for the diet book.