Holiday Blues

Going on holiday to the USA from time to time is a very good idea. There is so much to see and do there, the people are for the most part very friendly and even the immigration arrangements at Los Angeles airport have improved considerably now clever machines have largely taken over from overworked humans. The price of this latter convenience is inevitably some loss of privacy: the United States government now knows so much about us all there is a suspicion our next colonoscopy will not require a hospital visit but rather will be done remotely from a small room in Garden Road. But let us not be mean spirited.

Going on a diet from time to time is also a very good idea, particularly if combined with abstinence from alcohol. It trims away some flab leaving one less out of breath when climbing stairs or bending to retrieve a fallen object. Refraining from excessive consumption gives a chance for the body to flush itself out and regain a more natural shape and size. Together with some healthy exercise, the benefits are obvious.

But attempting to go on a diet while on holiday in the USA is a very, very bad idea. These two forces are fundamentally opposed to each other and engaged in a fight to the death. Your body is their arena and neither side is giving any quarter. This truth comes from bitter experience.

Facebook friends will recall I went on a severe diet a few years ago when the needle on the weighing machine touched 100 kg for the first time. For a person of my height and build this was such a scandalous figure that I was shamed into an all-out effort. To keep focussed, I posted the monthly progress for all to see. After just over one year’s struggle the scales read a smidgin below 80, a heroic effort indeed. A modest "bounce back" was inevitable, so it was a pleasant surprise when the scales levelled off in the low 80s which seemed to be a steady if sturdy figure.

And then came last year’s holiday in the USA, and before you could say "put that spoon down" the weight was over 90 and climbing. When the dreaded three digit number was barely a pie away it was time to launch another diet. Starting from Reunification Day (1 July you dolt!) out went the booze and carbohydrates, in came the healthy living and gallons of water. For three weeks all went well, the excess was melting away and then came – yes, you guessed it, the cross Pacific flight to California. There is something about the portions served at meal times there. Two scrambled eggs with a couple of rashers of bacon, plus juice and black coffee, now where’s the harm in that? But lo and behold, someone has added a huge wodge of hash browns to the side of the plate with toast on the side. You order a small steak for lunch, next minute two waiters are carrying in a tray bearing half a cow. There is no let up at dinner either, the pressure is on to eat your way to oblivion. By the time of the return flight, the result after one month (three weeks dieting, one week USA eating) was a draw, the two fighters had boxed themselves to a standstill.

They say inside every fat man there is a thin man trying to get out. Could someone please come and rescue mine?