Everyone needs heroes, and at the start of the year, as I set out on my quest for thighs less thunderous, breasts less pendulous, mine came in the form of Mark Price, managing director of Waitrose. My admiration for Price, apparently known as "the chubby grocer", derived from his comments about his forthcoming diet. He had had a "robust exchange of views" with a nutritionist, he said, in which he had announced, "I'm not stopping drinking, and I'm not stopping going out to dinner ... I'm not eating any alfalfa beans either."
When I reported these comments approvingly to my boyfriend, he huffed: "He isn't going to lose any weight then, is he?" I kept quiet (well, quieter than usual). That's my approach too, I thought. Don't knock it.
Thankfully, it seems to be working. Two months in, I still haven't given anything up - well, everyone hates a quitter, right? Instead, I have been keeping a food diary, trying to balance my daily intake at around the 1,500-calorie mark, but not worrying when it goes over. I am keeping restaurant visits to around twice a week and on those occasions, there are no restrictions. I may steer clear of the deep-fried camembert - I've never been keen on fat-encrusted cheese - but I'm not overlooking the bread basket and chips are still very much on the menu.
I've kept my resolution not to weigh myself, aware of the ensuing spiral: the excitement as you lose a pound, the deep pit of sadness and takeaway-chomping you topple into as it emerges that you have put a few on. My clothes have been my guide, and while they aren't hanging off, they are actually fitting. I can't be the only person who ever bought a skirt thinking, hmm, the zip only goes halfway up but with a tug of my T-shirt, I'll have that gap covered. Well, now the zips close. Outfits that have been lurking in my wardrobe for years are getting an airing - any minute now, I'll revive that fluorescent orange catsuit that seemed so fashionable for one heady week in 2001.
Still, like all long-term endeavours, as quick as the process is proving, I can't help wishing it would go more quickly. Exercise would help, of course, and one of these days I might just consider starting to think about getting around to that. Possibly.
Then there is booze. I am not including alcohol in my calorie count, although I am keeping a note of how many glasses of wine and shots of vodka I knock back to try to shame myself into minor limitation. It turns out that I'm shameless. I did blanch slightly while flicking through the complimentary copy of the Rosemary Conley magazine they sent me after I slated Conley in my original article about dieting - it said three and a half bottles of red wine is the equivalent of six Mars bars. And another recent revelation - that a single frozen margarita can contain 750 calories - depressed me too, although not enough to make me stop boozing.
Of course, if I'm not prepared to give up alcohol, I suppose I could give up food: that's the approach some young American women are supposedly taking, a trend the New York Times described earlier this month as - bogus new word alert! - "drunkorexia". When you are trying to restrict calories, however loosely, it can be tempting just to drink through the hunger pangs, particularly if you're excluding booze from your calorie count. I did this for the first time a few weeks back, heading over to a friend's house one evening, having three glasses of wine, rolling home and eating just a slice of ham, before continuing through another few glasses. I am going to abstain from food tonight, I slurred to myself. I am, indeed, a very good dieter.
The next morning I remembered that this is the shortest route ever to an extravagant binge. The ravening, eye-crossing, limb-devouring hunger caused by the average hangover multiplies by at least 10 if you have been drinking on an empty stomach. I think I'll just keep consuming both alcohol and food and accept that it's a long haul ahead. Chin chin!