Gut feeling

First off, I should apologise for the delay between updates. I have suffered from a failure to understand the meaning of the word ‘leave’ and have been spending too long doing the sort of proper work that I am supposed to be enjoying three months away from. Due to a perfect storm of things going wrong at the magazine I work for (none caused by my absence, sadly) I’ve spent a lot of my evenings doing the day job. When I arranged this leave, that wasn’t part of the plan.
Anyway, it turns out that regularly updating this blog isn’t the only modest ambition that has proven to be beyond me. Before this leave began I had big plans for my time away from the office. Beyond spending quality time with the kids, ensuring their welfare and other guff like that, I had a to-do list in my head of things I wanted to achieve. In among the tedious and predictable, like sorting the loft, putting up stairgates, brushing up on mio Italiano (my Italian), I had this idea that I might lose some weight.
I’m a bit above my fighting weight at the moment. Well, I assume I am – I haven’t weighed myself in years, but I don’t do any exercise beyond jogging my memory and have spent the past 17 years of my life steadily expanding.
Before it started, I had an idea that this leave would feature long walks pushing a buggy up and down the hills of East Dulwich, as well as lifting, carrying and running after two small children when they weren’t confined to buggies. This, combined with three months away from the work canteen and fish and chip Friday might reverse the burgeoning of my waistline and get me into something approaching good shape.
However, the fact is I have two children of unpredictable appetites. Baxter is 10 months and experimenting with everything but rarely eats it all. He also has teeth coming through intermittently so will occasionally have days where he barely eats a thing.
Minnie, on the other hand, goes through very brief phases of liking and not liking whatever is put in front of her. This cycle can take minutes. Sometimes she can go off a food in the time between her asking for it for her dinner and me putting it in front of her. To her this inconsistency can be explained perfectly logically: “I didn’t like courgettes when I was two but now I’m three I do.”
The upshot of this is that it is often them that decide when mealtimes are over, and when they do there is often a lot of food left on their plates. I hate to see anything go to waste so feel compelled to help out and finish whatever they haven’t eaten. Minnie has also been ill during the past week and has lost her appetite, meaning not only is there more food left, I’ve sometimes prepared a variety of things in an effort to get her to eat something.
By the time the leftover pasta, toast, yogurt, breadsticks, rice cakes and curry have added up, I have in effect been eating at least one extra meal a day. By the time Helen comes home I have had breakfast, lunch and a half, and dinner. Then, once the kids have gone to bed, I sit down to another dinner with Helen. What’s worse is that Helen, having spent the day working instead of stuffing her face, is keen to eat chocolate, cake or some other sweet when we collapse on the sofa afterwards.
Basically since being on leave, I have increased my calorie intake about threefold, and reduced my exercise – admittedly from a low starting point – to zero.
I am now half way through the period of leave so there may be time for me to get into shape before I go back to work full-time but as things stand I am peering over my belly just to see the iPad screen to type this. I wouldn’t bet against the screen disappearing completely underneath a roll of fat before then.

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