“I can tell you that if there’s nothing wrong with you except fat, it is easy to get thin. You eat and drink the same as always, except half.
If you are handed a plate of food, leave half. If you have to help yourself, take half.”
Muriel Spark: A Far Cry From Kensington
After years of low-this and low-that diets this is exactly where I am, because upon reading Muriel’s wisdom last year I recalled that this is how I stayed slim in my 20s, 30s and 40s. Turning 50 led to my body gaining unbidden menopausal upholstery probably because my capacity for exercise dropped against a commensurate increase of appetite – especially wine.
Ten years ago, my mother passed away and to ameliorate my grief and langour I landed on the doorstep of Moss Pilates where Lisa Stredwick pushed and pulled me through my paces. Over a few short weeks, my painful knees mended, my back straightened, my walk walked taller, my abs were abbier. Alas, my office moved and being fundamentally lazy, I didn’t make the effort to cross a quarter of London to continue classes. More fool me.
I did attend the gym however, but as business became busier, this too fell by the wayside, a situation compounded by the diagnosis and removal of bowel cancer and inability to exercise for some weeks.
As mid-fifties brought Porky Forte into being, my wardrobe crept into the universe of elasticated skirts and yes dear reader, I became unhappy with myself. Attending to hair, nails and other superficial aspects of My Look didn’t solve anything; an additional painful root cause of inactivity came from issues with scar tissue around my old bowel surgery, rendering me unable to either move or leave the house on many a day.
The last five years have seen attempts at low fat, low carb, low alcohol, high protein, high fibre … and indeed anything to reduce bowel pain and weight; a few pounds were shed, but nothing of note. Many subscriptions were made to various plans and apps, all of which compounded guilt and frenzy to ensure data was input and daily food diaries completed. None of it really helped.
Last year, I tracked down the indefatigable Lisa, who welcomed me with open arms and collaborated on improving my sorry body with her unique brand of Pilates. Meantime, a good friend offered to assist with the cost of a private colonoscopy, during which a golf-ball sized blockage was removed from my bowel, relieving excrutiating daily pain and regular house-boundness (very ouch).
Recovering from the procedure, I re-read Muriel whose Protagonist’s Mantra Of Half became a glittering light at the end of the tunnel; as well as adopting her practice, I maintain a lively metabolism with cardiovascular exercise at the gym and attend the excellent, only-five-minutes-away Victoria Park Pilates twice a week for much improved mobility and strength; a variety of Mat and Tower pilates keeps me on my toes (and everything else). I have also returned to Lisa for an occasional one-to-one on the Reformer … When it comes to ageing, I am not going down without a fight.
It has come to pass dear reader, that this Half-with-Exercise regime has shed three inches from my waist, representing the Cherry on a slimmed down Bodily Cake. A Cake that once again wears dresses unworn for at least five years, proving that the New Year has revived the Old Me.
Happily, I can confirm … Sixty is the New Forte.
© Giovanna Forte 2023