Staying slim: a wine-lover's experiment
There is an abundance of such amusing quotations to be found online, many of which sum up precisely the frustration we wine-lovers face when it comes to staying slim. Not only do we love wine, but we usually also love its natural bedfellow – FOOD. We are hedonists, we are lovers of conviviality and pleasure and we do not like to stick to calorie-counting and diets and other boring things like that.
Of course if you’re one of those annoying people who are naturally skinny and struggle to keep weight on (‘ectomorphs’, I believe you’re called), then you won’t need to worry about this. I, on the other hand, through a sophisticated process of internet self-diagnosis, have concluded that I am an ‘endomorph’, defined by Wikipedia as ‘a body type with slow metabolism and a naturally high degree of body fat, especially around the midsection’. Thanks, parental DNA.
An ectomorph pretending that she needs to lose weight. Not me, sadly.
The thing is, I actually do consume wine in moderation, albeit with some regularity. I don’t eat much refined carbohydrate except for an occasional sweet treat. I eat lots of healthy foods: you name a superfood, I eat it. Oily fish, avocado, broccoli, olive oil, chia seeds, eggs, kale…the list goes on. The operative word, however, is ‘lots’. At no point do I ever restrict myself or prevent the opportunity for spontaneity, which all weight loss plans (whatever their grand claims may be) inevitably involve. I’ve tried that before – a couple of years ago I successfully followed the dreaded 5:2 diet for four whole months…and it definitely works! But when you naturally tend towards hedonism and you wake up on one of those ‘2’ days, the realisation that all you have to look forward to that day is a measly tuna steak, 5 florets of broccoli, the occasional slice of apple or hard-boiled egg and usually NO WINE (max. 500 calories for a woman) is enough to have you burying your head under the pillow in despair.
Why would you want to give up on this?!
So that was never going to last. About six months ago, I was starting to get fed up. I was having a wonderful life – wining and dining all over London, trying out new restaurant and wine bar openings, hosting wine dinners for my work and catching up with many like-minded friends over meals. But my clothes were just that little bit too tight and my confidence was not high. How could I slim down a little whilst maintaining my non-restrictive lifestyle?
Could exercise be the answer?
I have never been, and am unlikely ever to be, an athlete. I’m aware of the importance of regular exercise, of course, so I have always dabbled in the gym and I like to go for long walks. But I’ve never really focused on getting fit and toned. I’ve also heard that fat loss is only minimally impacted by exercise, and much more by diet – at a ratio of about 30% the former, 70% the latter. Sigh. But could I buck the trend? I wouldn’t mind dragging myself to the gym if it meant I could unequivocally eat and drink whatever I wanted and never even THINK about counting a calorie again.
So in order to see if I could prove the theory wrong and slim down without changing my spontaneous and calorie-laden lifestyle, I enlisted the help of a personal trainer. He put me through my paces with a mixture of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and strength/resistance work. Ouch. You can watch the (warning: rather tongue-in-cheek) account of my experiment here...
So there you go. It is possible to make a (cough…small) difference through exercise alone. The only problem is that it’s really, really hard work and pretty painful, repetitive and boring. For me anyway. Plus the results it yields would be vastly improved by changing one’s diet at the same time. And, as one of my favourite Daily Mash articles so aptly explains, you’ve got to keep doing it. FOREVER. It doesn’t really fit in with the whole hedonism thing.
Why don't I look like Kate Moss yet?!
In conclusion, therefore….well, I’m not really sure. I still swing wildly between going to the gym four times a week in an attempt to offset my regular four-course dinners, and deciding that the gym is the devil and I would be much better off cutting out wine, carbs and all forms of pleasure for four days a week. I suspect that this wild swinging between extremes is not going to go away.
Perhaps I just need to buy bigger clothes.
Fellow wine-lovers, please feel free to share your own stories (either success or failure!) of staying slim in the comments below...