I KNOW that I am not the only woman in the world who has issues about her body. For as long as I can remember I have been on a diet-in fact there have been times when I have truly believed that I have been hungry for my entire life. I dread to think how many innocent trees have had to die in order to create the dozens of diet books I have bought over the years that now gather dust on a groaning bookshelf.
Of course as I hurtle towards 43, it has become abundantly clear to me that you do get to a stage, and an age, when you just have to accept what you have got and make the best of it. However, I also had this thing about being fat and IN MY FORTIES, and not wanting to look like a jowly, frumpy, puffy pre menopausal mess on my big day-much preferring to be a sexy, gorgeous girl (NOT a lady or a woman, but a GIRL). So , for a good year before the big FOUR OH the panic had been gradually building, in much the same way that it would in the run up to a big white wedding.
Christmas came and went and I made big promises to myself that I would actually GO to the health club and get on a running machine rather than just sit in a sauna for 40 minutes and then do a few half hearted laps of the pool before downing a large full fat cappuccino and stuffing my puffy face with a ‘skinny’ (yeah right) muffin.
Luckily for me and all the other tight, toned, and in my opinion obsessive, health club members, the great day of me wobbling about on top of a Pilates ball in full view of everyone like a pregnant hippo never actually happened.
No, I didn’t just give in and start binge eating, and I didn’t say forget it-I am fat and that’s that-it was actually the arrival of Jack that changed my entire attitude to my body and exercise.
The male species has played a big part in my ‘does my bum look big in this’ dilemma. I am not suggesting that they force fed me cheese and thousands of gallons of red wine, but a few of them have made rather nasty comments about the size of my thighs. There have been classics like “whatever diet you go on , however much weight you lose, just remember-you are no stunner” (ex husband) to “mmmm I usually date girls who are quite a lot slimmer than you…you are rather rubenesque and I can’t actually get a hard on because you are too fat” (internet date twat).
There have also been lovely men who have made constructive comments like “girls should be curvy, I think you are a sex kitten” (ex boyfriend) to “if you are that worried about it then just go for a walk every lunch time” (gorgeous friend). BUT, I am one of those girls who sometimes just refuses to take compliments and advice from men-especially when I know they are right.
So Jack coming along at such a timely moment was rather fortuitous, because not only did I fall in love with him at first sight (he was strong and dark, and rather gorgeous with the most beautiful brown eyes-always a winning combination) but I actually found myself powerless to resist his endless and obvious demands for me to take endless exercise and embrace the outdoor life.
The day he arrived was quite an occasion. He positively bounded into my kitchen making his presence well and truly felt, and proceeded to ingratiate himself with my entire family before even bothering to engage with me at all. At one point he was virtually sitting on my loveliest friend’s lap and I swear he was trying to lick their face…
Anyway, Jack’s first request was to go for a long and rambling walk across the countryside which we did and a good time was had by all. It was lovely to see him bounding across the fields and checking out the wildlife. We made an executive decision that as it was early days and we barely knew each other, it was probably best if he didn’t actually spend the night with me, so we made a bed in the kitchen for him. He seemed happy with this, and so was I, until I discovered in the morning that the midnight munchies had got the better of him, and he had decided to help himself to a large family-sized dish of couscous and roasted red peppers, followed by half a French stick and an entire slab of Lurpak-I guess it must be all that exercise and fresh air that made him a bit peckish, and boys do eat more than girls anyway.
Since then we have had various incidents-but we are still in our ‘honeymoon’ period. He is not THAT keen on our family cat, but she takes great delight in irritating him and flirting with him in that arrogant way that only cats can get away with, and he is VERY hungry and likes nothing more than to help himself to the odd loaf of homemade bread, or packet of digestive biscuits.
Being so active does make one hungry, but I draw the line at the way he barges into the hallway to help himself to the remains of the cat’s supper. Luckily, Jack is a bit of a push over and you only have to stroke his head and tell him you love him and he literally melts and collapses in a loved-up heap. Cat hating and food crimes apart, Jack has changed all our lives and I struggle to remember what life was like without a filthy kitchen floor and slobber all over my best jeans.
Jack is, of course, a beautiful black Labrador, and he alone is responsible for the fact that my complexion looks like I am on a permanent shag fest, and my thighs are visibly shrinking. He loves me unconditionally, doesn’t wake me up in the wee small hours demanding sexual favours, and NEVER rolls in at 2am drunk with a mad and crazy look in his eye and incapable of stringing a sentence together. He will also happily sit in the back seat of my car, and never comments on my three point turns.
I may well have swapped one dribbling, hairy and occasionally smelly male for another, but no boyfriend has EVER actually made my skinny jeans fit, and that’s why Jack is the perfect man.