How to be a size smaller but a good deal grumpier

I have been loath to go public but now I have decided it is time to come out. I have, dear reader, lost a bit of weight. It must be true because at least three people have mentioned it.

“You’ve lost some weight, haven’t you?” they say, and it is music to my ears.

I kiss them and hug them and say, modestly and truthfully: “A little.”

People are generally very careful not to refer to your size unless they’re very sure of their ground. The most notorious instance of getting it badly wrong being: “And when is your baby due?”

“I’m not pregnant.”


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I’m not slim, that’s a Mars bar too far, but I am no longer having to decide whether to go bulgy in one size or comfy in a size bigger. I never did buy the larger size, although there were some moments struggling into jeans when I suspect some of my lower internal organs had to reposition themselves in my upper torso to allow me to pull up the zip.

Now, after my strict diet regime (yeah, right) I can be confident of getting into a moderate size and that makes me very happy.

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These days I am hardly grumpy at all... about my size, anyway.

Several of the clothes I thought I would never button up again can now accommodate my goodly girth. It was worth hanging on to the ‘80s... I am content.

As middle age set in, it had become increasingly hard to lose weight and increasingly easy to put it on. The mere sight of a Belgian bun made my body manufacture adipose and deposit it on my hips. Mention of whipped cream made my thighs wobble with quick release blubber.

So what has wrought this change? The main reason, I suspect, is that I gave up alcohol for the duration, the duration, that is, of menopause. The nightmarish acid indigestion and hot flushes abated when I forsook red wine.

It meant that I slept better but lived worse. That wonderful sound of a ruby Gamay glugging into a large Ikea wine glass is lost to me now. The whimper of hot water hitting a teabag in a mug doesn’t bring the same frisson. But I stuck to my abstinent regime, allowing myself just a glass of prosecco at the weekend. And gradually, I lost a little weight and my temper. Instead of being tetchy all day before unwinding in the evening, I was now having 24-hour tetch-fests.

“Are you sure you won’t have a small glass of wine?” pleaded my husband.

“Yes,” I snapped.

The mellowness a glass of nice vino plonko can endow cannot be recreated. There is no substitute. Now, I have been virtually alcohol-free for three years… yes, it’s been that long since I got completely and utterly mellowed.

In addition, I have been eating a bit less. Somewhere I read that we should embrace our hunger pangs and learn to enjoy them rather than staving them off with luscious, serotonin-inducing bars of chocolate. I have tried to marry these two antithetical concepts by eating chocolate before I am hungry.

It would be polite to share my weight-loss tips with the world in my new book The No Plan Diet as opposed to the F Plan or the G Plan. In the first, you eat fibre in the second, you eat furniture (joke c.1960). But when there is no plan, there is no book.

And I won’t be making a fitness video any time soon. “Lose inches with Lynne’s exercise schedule – eat a Curly Wurly, it measures several inches.”

I am not a lot of help. I have just veered off piste (all spellings) and trudged my own solitary route to rediscovering my navel under the flesh-covered jelly roll of my midriff. But then, it isn’t as if I am about to become a goddess. No, I still have cellulite like subcutaneous bubble wrap and underarm flaps like the ailerons on a 767.

I suppose it is just as well I have no pretensions to being the newspaper’s resident agony aunt although I do occasionally get asked for advice...

Dear Lynne,

I have just read Fifty Shades of Grey and I’m wondering where you can buy nipple clamps.

Interested, of Beccles

I believe most DIY stores sell hardware items of this kind. You’ll probably find them somewhere near the ropes, chains and cable ties – or am I thinking of bulldog clips? Oh, and I think one store offers 10% off for pensioners on Wednesdays.

Dear Lynne,

I am visiting my prospective mother-in-law with my fianc� for the first time, next week. Should I take her a small gift?

Scared, of Suffolk

Yes. And also a notebook and pen because she will give you all sorts of information to write down about how to look after her son. How deep he likes his bath run; how he likes his shirt sleeves ironed; his tea made; what sort of woman he should marry etc. You will need to be strong when she tells you how lovely his last girlfriend was.

Dear Lynne,

My daughter has just moved in with her fianc�. How often should I pop round?

By e-mail

Not more than once or twice a day

Dear Lynne,

My husband and I have been married for 38 years and would like to do something new and romantic for our anniversary, what would you suggest?

Active, of Acton

Judging by the wobbly handwriting you don’t need any advice from me.

Dear Lynne,

My wife doesn’t understand me.

Resigned, of Wroxham

Yes she does.

Dear Lynne

My husband argues with the television, reads aloud from the newspaper, leaves his shoes where I trip over them. What can I do?

By e-mail

Unfortunately, Lynne has run out of space and is therefore unable to reply to this question.

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