Feast now, diet later? This festive paradox is making me anxious its time to hit the exercise bike – Evening Standard

Posted: December 24, 2019 at 2:44 pm


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I was a fat kid. When I got on the school bus, a miserable littleblister called Ben used to make everyone scrabble to the opposite side, pretending that they needed to balance the bus from capsizing like a boat against my weight. He alsonicknamed me the blob but I dont mind so much these days because Ben seems to spend most of his time posting petitions about Chris Packham onFacebook, and that is justice enough.

Still, weight. A childhood of angst about it, of not wanting to peel my clothes off in the changing rooms, causes a ripple effect down the years. The singer Sam Smith talked about this last week in an Instagram post. Another tubster when young (no shrieking please, Sam has admitted this), Sam wrote online that Christmas was triggering because it provokes body issues.

True. I look forward to Christmas with the greedy anticipation of BruceBogtrotter but, by this point in December, am already worrying about the number of pigs-in-blankets and glasses of wine that Ive swallowed and their effect on the scales. And this is why my friend Katie persuaded me into going to a SoulCycle class a couple of weeks ago.

SoulCycle is the US indoor cycling chain which arrived in London in June and has been referred to as a cult. I thought cults involved dangerous figures such as Charles Manson, not women in Lycra bras at a 45-minute exercise class, but since opening in New York in 2006 its proved phenomenally popular, especially among celebrities including the Beckhams and Tom Cruise. Two studios have opened here (Soho and Notting Hill), two more are planned for early 2020 (Chelsea and Marylebone) and I wanted to hate it.

At 24 a go, its too expensive. Also, cheesy. We aspire to inspire, says a slogan on the Soho studios wall. In the past decade, London has becomesaturated with these places. The likes of Equinox, Barrys, F45, 1Rebel and CrossFit have arrived, not justpromising tighter glutes but intimating that your life as a whole will be more fulfilled should you fork out for the pleasure. Forget church on a Sunday, come sweat with us in a class called Weights Before Dates instead.

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Anyway, I went and spent my first soul session being told by a perky American not to hold back because if I held back on my stationary bike, I would hold back on my entire week. Hmm. But I went to a second one and a third because you get a signing-up deal and obviously now Im hooked. Im no stranger to a faddy exercise craze and the classes are properly tough. Plus, sweating in the dark to Janet Jackson while an instructor/therapist shouts from the front has unquestionably helped assuage my seasonal anxiety about weight gain.

Is that tragic? Am I obsessing about the wrong thing right now? Maybe. But its a peculiar time of year for anyone plagued by similar insecurities. We are all urged constantly to guzzle like foie gras geese all month and then, come January, drink watercress soup every day as penance.

Diets are complete rubbish, exercise is good and SoulCycle is simply very good exercise.

Im delighted my handsome future husband James Nortonis about to appear on our TV screens again. He doesnt know about our engagement yet but Ive long been a fan and look forward to his role as osteopath Stephen Ward in the new Profumo drama, The Trial Of Christine Keeler, which kicks off on BBC1 this Sunday.

Keep your eyes peeled for his dad Hugh, a retired lecturer, since Norton senior always has a cameo role in his sons projects. He appeared in white tie in Lady Chatterleys Lover, as a passer-by in Grantchester, a sugar daddy in the series McMafia and a moustachioed Cossack in War And Peace, although James says his father was a bit disappointed by this because he wanted to play a Russian count. On that set, filmed partly in Lithuania, he became so loved by the cast and crew that they dubbed him Papa Norton and treated him like a mega-star.

He even got a car once, which he was really pleased with. He gets special treatment, definitely, said Norton junior in an interview afterwards.

I love everything about this and cant wait until Papa Norton is my father-in-law.

*Are you a Santa or a Father Christmas family? My mother always insisted it was the latter because Santa was an Americanism. But last week I heard my young nieces speak only of Santa and wondered whether this was creeping wokeism, an attempt by teachers to slay the patriarchy.

Or perhaps Father Christmas now identifies as a woman and feels Santa is more appropriate? Needless to say the debate rages in several Mumsnet threads, with the Scots and Irish hitting back that they call him Santa too, or sometimes Santy, which I suspect would cause my mother a migraine. One user offers a definitive answer: Father Christmas is his formal title. Santa is his name. One to remember when you send him a thank you letter.

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Feast now, diet later? This festive paradox is making me anxious its time to hit the exercise bike - Evening Standard

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December 24th, 2019 at 2:44 pm