IThis is your last chance to see me in this sleazy state – there will be some changes. A sleeker, brighter and better post-pandemic me is coming out of lockdown. Yes, “data, not dates,” our prime minister warned us, but regardless, the date I’m focusing on is April 12, the first cookout can start over, and the data I see every time I approach the scale can be extrapolated like this: “Cut down on refined carbs now. No more ate and Heinz sandwich spread toast with a side of Frazzle on the bed. The new world is beginning. “
This, I am afraid, will present the need to wear buttoned pants and have fewer boobs on my back than on my front. If the sharp rise in entry-level joggers and hard walkers at my local park is any indication, I’m not alone in this panic. One of my closest friends, also in his 40s, embarked on a strict Atkins plan as soon as the roadmap dates were released. Or, more accurately, as soon as she realized that even her elegant lace-up shoes no longer fit her. “How … how did I gain weight on my toes?”
Some of us are intensely relaxed about the extra pounds of Covid; in fact, they have embraced its wiggle, wobble, and wattle with poise. Jeez, I wish I was one of them. Body positivity, I’ve argued before in this newspaper, is almost always a Gen Z and millennial notion. Then there are people like me, Generation X, who find photos of Liz Hurley, 55, in a size 6 bikini deeply triggering. We knew the calorific value of a Ryvita and a tablespoon of cottage cheese at the age of 12, and we have a slightly too tight formal outfit that hangs eternally on our bedroom door with a deadline to drop ten pounds through restrictions and star jumps.
For us, although the pandemic has been cruel and terrifying in a thousand different ways, a bright little light of joy is the way it has allowed us time off to try to be better. In January, the joy was lacking, but throwing huge handfuls of dried penne into a skillet as if loading carbs for the Marathon des Sables I felt a little bit of happiness. Who among us has not eaten? Gü chocolate cream and salted caramel straight out of the jar and mistake it for love?
And now doomsday is on the horizon, for people like me and my friend, who can currently only wear carpet slippers. We may have spent the last 12 months exchanging WhatsApp messages about dauphinoise potato kits to finish at home and the morality of drinking iced vermouth for breakfast, but now, after blaming the government, the weather, and our hormones for our surge weight, we have. We move to that stage where we all spend two weeks on a health kick: discussing how brilliant clean and restricted eating can be. A large, hearty, protein-rich omelette is just as delicious, we agreed, without a delicious buttery bloomer toast. And while a warm, fresh croissant filled with squid and sweet almond paste and lightly garnished with icing sugar is the perfect mid-morning pick-me-up, it was just driving us slow.
We don’t want that because, in the new world, we have to be on top of our game. Too much time has been wasted: the inhabitants of the new world must be bright, alert and ready for anything. This is why intermittent fasting and conquering blood sugar spikes are so important. And did I mention smaller panties?
At the end of last week, starving for carbs, dizzy, and finding changing the duvet cover an ongoing war of attrition, I realized that as the world begins to open up, I’ve been building a new prison for myself. The mere challenge of coming out of confinement as a beautiful butterfly, rather than a very hungry caterpillar, is just one of many transformations and challenges that I have set for myself. I promised that not only would the new me continue to walk or run at least five miles a day, but that she would stay abundantly hydrated and vigilant and would spend early mornings expressing growth and whispering personal affirmations. (The millions of users of the new Clubhouse social media platform are obsessed with this.)
New world will plan all your free time in advance for next year with rewarding stays and dinners to catch up with friends at excellent tables in the most charming restaurants. New world I will sip shots of vodka on the Trans-Siberian railway, play topless table tennis in Antigua, and squeeze every inch of life, because after all, life is for living. The new world sounds exhausting. I already miss the nights with pasta.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism