THE TIMES
24 FEBRUARY 2018

FAT FREEZING AND HOT YOGA

It’s not about “looking good for our age” — it’s about looking good full stop.

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If you are about the same age as me — mid to late fifties — you may remember Ayds, the unfortunately named diet supplement plan. Little fudge sweeties wrapped in cellophane that our mums ate between meals to suppress their appetites and which we, as children, stole and ate like, well, sweeties. Ayds, Limmits (the meal replacement biscuits you had to drink with a glass of milk), cycling in the air, those ludicrous belt massagers . . . if you are a child of the late Sixties and early Seventies you will remember it all.

As baby boomers we grew up amid that first-wave fitness boom; it’s knitted into our collective psyche. As such it is hard to let those high physical expectations of ourselves go, even if we know, at our age, it’s not entirely appropriate. So it goes for me, anyway. And it’s not about, as that awful expression would have it, “looking good for our age” — it’s about looking good full stop.

To give yourself an unfair kick-start, try Coolsculpting, probably the cleverest piece of non-invasive cosmetic technology to have been invented. It’s not a desperately pleasant experience — the device freezes your fat to death — but, my goodness, does it work for that extra duvet “tog” of flesh that sprouts out of nowhere at the onset of the menopause, and supposedly never comes back. Magda at the Tracy Mountford Clinic changed my life. (Easy does it, though. Too much and you can end up looking as if you’ve been bitten by a shark.)

It’s possible, as a generation, we have set the bar higher for our bodies than our faces. I know I made the choice fairly on. Or rather the choice was made for me when, at a very early age, I fell madly in love with the sun and discovered the “joys” of yo-yo dieting. One can mitigate, obviously — what Dr Suha Kersh can do with subtle fillers for a “pebbly” jawline and saggy jowls ought to go down in cosmeceutical history — but give me wrinkly and slim over taut and plump any day.

Now that grown-ups dress like teenagers and vice versa it’s being able to fit into things rather than having the face of one ten years younger that counts. Besides, it’s so easy to overdo it on the filler and botox. Unlike one’s body, which can take quite a lot of change without it looking too terribly obvious, everything is written on the face. Lines and wrinkles you can somehow wear like a badge in the way that you cannot an extra 10-15lb.

There’s a question of economics, too. The idea of creeping up a size every year not only feels lazy, it also feels a bit wasteful. It’s satisfying and nice to be able to go “shopping” in one’s wardrobe and wearing something you haven’t worn in years as opposed to impulse buying something you don’t really want and will wear just the once.

 

“I don’t have particularly slim genes, so to stay the same size I was, say, ten years ago, I have to work at it”

 

So yes, it’s true, I do treat my body a little like a project. I don’t have particularly slim genes, so to stay the same size I was, say, ten years ago, I have to work at it. This means, for me, no drinking (or drugging), no exceptions to the rule. In your thirties and maybe even your forties you can be that medical miracle who manages to cane it without showing it, but by your fifties it’s usually a different story and all the Fiji water in the world isn’t going to help.

It means regular exercise — it takes 45 minutes to get to Fierce Grace, the swanky Hot Yoga studio I use, and involves a dog sitter, but I figure that if I don’t truly love the place where I practise, I’ll never get off my arse and go. And yes, it means eating less too. More of the things you like, but much smaller quantities (retraining yourself, in other words, the way Limmits and all those other meal replacement plans never did).

Stultifyingly boring, but, oh, the benefits you will reap four to five months from now. In a way I wish I could magic myself back to the Seventies. My 15-year-old self would be so proud if she could see me now.