Kerry McLean: Oh Carol, you've got a fantastic figure but how I wish it was due to a nip and tuck here and there and not a gruelling exercise regime
Carol Vorderman should be banned from appearing on TV or in the papers. For the sake of all other women in the world, could somebody please wipe her from our group consciousness?
Thanks to her I looked in the mirror last week and wondered why I could see my granny looking back at me. I'd love to say it was my mum's face, but I think the ageing process has somehow run at double speed for me in the last few years and I've skipped a generation.
Not that I had really noticed until I went out to meet some friends for coffee and Carol Vorderman came up in conversation. Photos of her have appeared everywhere over the last few days after she was snapped looking far too gorgeous in what should have been a fairly mundane outfit. It was nothing more fancy than an old orange turtle-neck jumper and a pair of black leggings, the kind of combo you'd sling on to go and do the school run in the morning, but a pairing which, when Carol wore it, looked sensational and drew a lot of attention to her gravity-defying curves and her age-defying visage.
At almost 60, she could have easily passed for a woman 10 years younger, whereas my gang of mum friends and I came to the depressing realisation that in our late 30s and early 40s, we could easily pass for 10 years older. We agreed that for us, a good look is one where we've managed to put on matching socks - socks that don't belong to any of our children - and we know we're hitting the heady heights of style when we make it out of the house without our toddlers adding a few jam, ink or orange juice stains to accessorise our outfits.
Of course, there's been lots of debate about whether Carole has had a helping hand in maintaining her physique - a little nip or tuck here or a bottom implant there - but it's been revealed that it's all due to a jaw-dropping exercise regime.
As well as walking seven miles each and every day of the week, she goes swimming three times and, on alternate days, has a training session with a personal fitness instructor. She also completes hundreds of squats, lunges, hip thrusts and straight arm planks to stay in shape. Somehow, after completing all of that, she still had enough energy left over this week to share those lengthy workout details with the world and explain that her shape is entirely due to her hard work and determination.
I like Carol, I honestly do. I like that she's an intelligent, self-assured, witty, confident woman. But I can't help thinking I'd like her even more if she confessed to being lazy and opting for the easy, medical-assisted route to perfection.
Personally, my friends and I concluded that we are too sluggish to even find out what half of those exercises Carol listed are, never mind attempt them - an attitude which might go some way to explaining our podgy, crinkled complexions.
Dealing with homework queries, sibling squabbles, teenage pimple problems and toddler tantrums, all at the same time, have taken their toll on us, mentally and physically. Much like you can tell the age of an ancient tree by counting the rings that run through it, so you can see the many years of missing sleep by the wrinkles rippling out from our eyes, like the trail left by a particularly large rock thrown violently into a garden pond.
My mates and I have, on several occasions, attempted to undertake new, healthy regimes of diet and exercise but have not so much stumbled at the first hurdle as fallen flat on our faces and been propelled backwards, as though tethered to a life of excess by some sort of bungee cord. But looking at Carol for inspiration, we agreed changes have to be made. We mentioned that we might attempt a park run together, possibly join a slimming club and maybe attend an exercise classes en masse.
Then, feeling confident that we were on the right road towards Carol's physical perfection, we all ordered a second cup of coffee and a slice of lemon drizzle cake to celebrate.