Getting over Christmas
Tourist Running Guy's Report

When you get back from Christmas and all the forced feeding, excessive alcohol consumption and general liver tenderising that the seasonal flesh is heir to, you know, even before you take the walk of shame to the bathroom scales, that things are going to have to change.

You are, of course, a past master at flab reduction. You've done it every year, ever since you first woke up, one post Yuletide morning, with what looked like a small turtle strapped to your stomach, that marked the end of youth and the beginning of that pudding based condition of life we call middle age.

OK, you've only given this weight loss thing a half hearted nod before, whilst still sneaking in the not so occasional "grab bag" of cheese and onion, jumbo sized - but not for sharing - twix, and the almost daily bacon butty, without butter mind.

Every now and then, of course, you train up for a half marathon, which justifies all the dietary abuse that you generally indulge in. But that's why we run, isn't it? To allow us to eat whatever we want.

You do the half marathon surprising slowly and then, because you deserve it, you eat the largest Sunday roast you can actually fit in your by now medium sized turtle of a stomach and wash it down with far too many pints of full fat creamy real ale and then snore it off while the turtle deflates over night, just a little.

I understand that there are, hidden in the dusty annals of the 'advice for runners' section of the local library, certain chapters, of certain unfashionable tomes, that suggest that this is not what is meant by the concept that exercise is good for you.

The Smith Challenge

 The Smith Family are raising £5,000 for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice inmemory of Andy who died in February.

donate here

Well, as your feet begin to vanish behind the annual rising of your Christmas testudine*, you know that one year you are going to have to change your approach to this whole thing. 3 years of running. Three years of remaining, on average through the year, with slight variations as you train to races at slightly different times of the year, exactly the same weight, you become aware that, this is the year!

But if things are going to be different, you are going to have to try doing something different.

Now that means a phased approach.

Phase 1

The night before you decide that Christmas is actually over^, you need to prepare yourself for the scales.

Weight loss is not just a matter of deciding to do it. It needs planning. It needs determination. It needs a bit of cheating.

Eat a very large take away, drink plenty of water and secrete heavy objects in whatever you are going to wear when you get on the scales. This will mean that when you do weigh yourself on the second week, there will have been a remarkable, apparent, loss in weight. Imagine the motivating effect of that!

If you are intending to weigh naked in the privacy of you own toilet, the same effect can be achieved by simply lying. If you live on your own this will mean lying to yourself but at least then you can bank on full forgiveness should you be caught in the act.

Phase 2
Choose a random goal weight.

It is important that the goal isn't too insignificant. It does have to be impressive to avoid the look of disdain you got when you announced a great weight loss drive of 1/2 lbs a month last year.

Also it might as well have something of a symmetry about it, if only to look good on paper. 1 lb a week. 2 lbs a week. 2 stone by Easter!!

It is important not to get carried away but if it's worth doing well ... you might as well make a complete fool of yourself doing it.

Having plucked an impressive but completely meaningless figure out of thin air, parade it round with complete confidence, rather like a Chancellor of the Exchequer bumbling through a budget speech or a Brixiteer mouthing off about just how good our trade deals with Europe will be once we are actually outside the EC, all we need is good dose of British spunk and a pretty little flag to wave, and it will be all sorted.

The Gift - A Ghost Story for Christmas
by Guy Jones

 On the top floor of an old Victorian house, that should be empty, there is a light on. A low light. A candle light.

And next to the light, just visible ... or was it my ... a figure ... and was it ... was she looking straight at me?

She? Yes, it was a girl. Check it out

Phase 3
Put it on a graph and stick the graph on a prominent wall.

That act alone is probably all the motivation you will need to get you through the whole project. Hit your target and everything will be fine. Miss it and the ridicule that will follow you around the house, every time you pause in front of the snack cupboard or you hint that it might be 'take away night', will keep you on the straight and narrow.

Phase 4
Assess your plan.

Sit there scratching your head over a Chicken Tikka Masala and a bottle or two of rubbish larger, trying to answer the simple, even obvious, but nevertheless difficult, question from your better half as to what you are going to actually do that is different to achieve the miraculous weight loss target that has appeared on your weight loss chart.

Phase 5
Accept that you are going to have to do something radical.

Girdle up your loins and with a celebratory baked Camembert and a bottle of Saint Emillion, from the top shelf, especially for the occasion, announce to your other half that you are going to enter several long races, plan the training and, how here is a radical departure, stick to the plan.

And then, as her gasps of amazement/bursts of derisive laughter (delete as applicable) are just beginning to subside, hit her with the 'game changer'.

The one that goes contrary to the "I run therefore I eat cake and chips and cheese and biscuits and ice cream and pizza and bread and ... everything else that makes life worth living and me fat" philosophy.

You are going to reduce your portion sizes!

Deep in the secret chocolate biscuit barrel of your mind, you have always known that this is the Holy Grail of weight loss. It sits in the same area of logic as the realisation that giving up smoking begins with not actually lighting the bloody fag in the first place. But it has always taken less effort to bury your head in the sands of carbohydrate based junk food, than to actually take out the scales and weigh the portion of pasta you casually dump into in your pasta salad.

And as her jaw hits the floor with amazement, dip the last sun dried tomato into the camembert, grab the last 2 twisty cheese straw thingys and wash it all down with a generous gulp of finest Boudreaux, lean back and wallow the reflective glory of the best laid plans of mice ... and men.

2 Stone off by Easter?

Watch this space.

*This is a reference to the order of animals that is the turtles. I use this analogy to refer to the stubbornly convex nature of the stomach at this time of year rather than to draw your attention to the hardness of a turtle's shell or it's largely aquatic nature.

^ there are after all 12 nights of it and traditionally things didn't actually get back to normal until the first Monday after 12 night and that was a bit of a piss up. This is in contrast to the modern way of keeping Satinalia, which involves starting the whole feeble excuse for over indulgence somewhere in mid November and whipping the decoration down on or before the 1st of January.

It is up to you to decide when you actually and finally slip into the hangover phase of the festive season.

I am a traditionalist in this regard and am always extremely pissed off when school/work/life starts again before Twelfth Night. Which is every year.

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