It’s that time of the year once more, when we all start looking forward to Christmas and think that perhaps we need to get in trim so that we can stuff ourselves silly on 25 December.
Here are my some recommendations for seasonal slimming campaigns:
The Yonder Peasant Workout. Tighten those tummy muscles with this simple exercise: take three steps forward then bend down as if you are picking up a piece of winter fuel. If a monarch and a page show up and offer you wine and flesh, resist the temptation.
The 10-Day All-Marzipan Diet. Eat nothing but marzipan, but be sure to include at least three portions of fruit a day – eg marzipan apples, pears and bananas. Go easy on the snowmen. It is an odd fact of life that if you pick a chocolate at random from a box it will always be the marzipan one, but if you are looking for the marzipan, all you get are Turkish delight, hazelnut whirl and coffee creme. Persevere – and only eat one bit of each mistake. This sweetmeat, made of ground almonds, syrup and sugar, is said to have been perfected by Ursuline nuns in France, who were noted for their virtue and their trim figures.
The Glad Tidings Slimming Aid. Glad tidings is a mixture of crushed chickpeas, sesame seeds, oats and dried ewes’ milk which might well have made up the sort of gruel eaten by shepherds abiding in fields. It comes in 500g packets; just add hot water. You’ll find those troublesome extra inches just won’t abide!
Sprouts Galore. Why not supplement your daily salad of alfalfa and mung bean sprouts with a dozen Brussels sprouts? Not only does this make a terrific low calorie treat, but also the triphenolactins in Brussels sprouts help to guard against seasonal anxieties and forebodings about visiting relations.
Sprout water, poured over the head of a loved one, is very good for the scalp – BBC Radio 2’s Sarah Kennedy, world renowned for a personal loathing of sprouts, is an enthusiastic endorser of this treatment.
The Michelangelo Diet. Few people realise that the human tongue burns up an enormous number of calories. Licking the gummed edge of a fair-sized envelope is the equivalent of a two-mile run. So send large Christmas cards this year. It’s called the Michelangelo Diet, but any large reproduction of a renaissance nativity scene will do – or even a Bruegel of skating peasants. Start licking this week, doing about 45 tongue-centimetres a day, gradually building up to 250 by Christmas Eve.
Get That Inner Glitter. The important thing about any diet is to get the balance right. From now on, your daily intake should include a small portion of Sellotape (bitten off your finger while making parcels), one mystery canape (preferably including an unexpected morsel of prune), a heaped teaspoonful of tinsel (glitter will do), one index finger’s worth of raw cake mix and one bite of minced pie heated to 650 degrees centigrade.
Only Fools and Fitness Trainers. Here is an exercise guaranteed to develop those pecs! Every day, get a newspaper’s 86-page Complete Television Guide for the Christmas Holiday and see if you can tear it in half.
The Jingle Tingle. Oh, what fun it is to jog behind a one-horse open sleigh! This makes a bracing change from the traditional Christmas shopping run where you have to sprint round 25 different gift departments, picking up a scented candle in each one.
Soot Is Hot. The top fitness guru everyone is talking about these days is based in Greenland, but is prepared to make house calls. All his clients swear by his “carbon and moss fume” treatment. Apparently, you get dressed up in a scarlet tracksuit, climb into a sort of chimney device to get yourself coated in soot, then you absorb the fumes of a particular type of Arctic moss by getting the reindeer (which feed on it) to breathe heavily into your face. The beauty of this treatment is that you are allowed as many mince pies and glasses of port as you like.