Belfast Telegraph

How that sinking feeling shamed me into shedding the pounds

By Claire Harrison

I like to buck trends. So while the rest of you are finally giving up on your health faddy New Year's resolutions and heading to the sofa to eat chips, I, too, have given up my resolution of not making any New Year's resolutions.

A month after everyone else, I have decided to use 2015 to take my health by the scruff of the neck and save it from its trajectory into hell.

This hypocritical decision came about after two events. The first one was an epiphany visited upon me while sitting on a see-saw in a playground. My husband and four-year-old daughter were on one side while I was on the other as we balanced in mid-air, with the full expectation that the side with two people onboard would soon start to sink to the ground.

Except it didn't. It was me who started descending, delivering one of those rare moments that makes you laugh and cry at the exactly the same time.

The second event was a stupid decision to look up my BMI on one of those internet thingamajigs that you're convinced is fixed when it gives you a result you don't want to believe.

The BMI query happened as a result of my kind employer encouraging staff to take part in an initiative called "£ for Lb", which basically bribes us to lose weight in return for a donation to charity.

Every single time I switched on my computer, an invitation to join flashed up. "All you need is a BMI over 25," it said. No problem, says me confidently to myself, sure my Body Mass Index would be nowhere near that.

Cue another moment of despair when I realised that I was exactly who they were looking for - and then some. So I bit the bullet and emailed our lovely supporter Laura to inquire. "I'm only half-tempted," I wrote. "No promises, just wondering …"

She soon talked me round with a final, "Sure, it will be a laugh". I can't remember the last time I laughed from starvation, but I had to admire her enthusiasm.

You may remember me writing before that I don't do diets and that I'm perfectly happy hauling around a size 16 bottom. I've only ever found diets counter-intuitive, in that I end up thinking more about food and, therefore, eat more.

I still believe all that, but it has now been outweighed by my desire not to outweigh two people on a see-saw.

Laura's 12-week programme (backed by Business in the Community) is pretty simple, based on the common sense of eating healthily and exercising in order to lose weight.

The theory of losing weight is not difficult, the discipline and temptation is what's hard to crack. The starter booklet we got was an eye-opener on what is secretly packed with calories (I always thought hummus was a fat free, eat-all-you-like delight! Ha!). That was nearly two weeks ago and it's been thoroughly miserable.

I have not touched chocolate, crisps, or alcohol, in exactly 10 days. (It is surely only a matter of time before the Vatican calls to talk me through the official miracle process).

I'm starving all the time. I look at my salad lunch with disgust, but eat it anyway and then declare I'm still hungry.

And guess what? It was all worth it. I was stunned to lose three pounds in the first week. So wish me luck for the next 10 weeks.

Everytime I think about a bar of Galaxy, I know now that the trick to maintain discipline is to remember that sinking feeling.

A purr-fect end to missing baby tale

Who says cats are aloof and selfish creatures? A feline called Masha has melted hearts in Russia, where she been hailed a hero for saving the life of an abandoned baby.

Masha made headlines in the city of Obninsk after being found in a cardboard box, curled up on top of the infant in freezing conditions.

The baby boy survived because of the extra furry warmth and is now being cared for in hospital after being found by Masha's owner.

While a search is under way to find the baby's mother, Masha is delighted to have been showered with extra food by proud neighbours. The kind puss is also strongly denying any suggestion she sat on the baby just to keep herself warm.

Show's success will need leap of faith

Batten down your bobsleigh. There's just three days left to go now until the ultimate show in celeb-bashing leaps onto our screens.

First, Ola Jordan ended up in hospital with a busted leg, closely followed by Sally Bercow and her broken ribs.

Now Gogglebox star Dom Parker is in hospital with concussion after coming a cropper while training for The Jump on Channel Four.

Which begs the question: will there be any contestants left standing by the time it airs on Sunday night?

Will Heather Mills break an arm speed-skating?

Will Lady Victoria Hervey break a nail? Will Louis Spence split his Lycra pants?

Only time will tell. I can't wait!

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