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Monthly Archives: January 2015

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I’m not a big fan of diets, but here I am downloading the NHS diet plan and back to counting calories.

Julie has been in and out of hospital like a yoyo the last week, so our family life has been pretty chaotic. But as soon as she started to stabilise again, she declared that one of the things she wanted to do was lose weight.

Now in the aftermath of crisis Julie’s head is not in a good place. Dieting can seriously mess with your head at the best of times: all those obsessional routines about calorie counting, all that guilt when you “sin”. She’s already surveying the wreck that is her sixth form career after two months of chaos and trying to work out how to recover that. To diet as well: is that a good idea?

I figured the best thing would be to offer to be her diet buddy. I could do with losing a few pounds anyway, and by dieting alongside her I could offer her support and moderate some of the extremes of behaviour.

In fact it’s been quite fun. Its been a few years since I’ve looked at the world of dieting, and there are lots of apps and much better sources of advice. I insisted we try the NHS plan because it is moderate, and because Julie had already successfully used their running program last year. We printed out the star charts and put them on the fridge, as instructed, and signed up to a free calorie logging app which allows us to be “friends” and share information. There’s been a fair amount of giggling and “Did you know…?” conversations. It’s fun to work on a project together.

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For millennia, human beings have adapted successfully to colder climates by wearing clothes and shoes. Leathers, furs, the wool from farm animals, rubber and now synthetic polymers, have all been used to solve the basic problems of heat loss, and water repellency.

But despite the accumulated wisdom of generations, teenagers still leave the cave on a cold winters night without a coat or a decent pair of shoes. For as long as there have been clothes, there have been harassed adults telling teenagers to put something warmer on. No doubt somewhere up above the Arctic circle, there are Inuit teenagers walking about outside in T-shirts and trainers while Inuit parents yell at them.

Today I broke my winter hibernation and braved the horror of the January sales for the single purpose of getting Duncan a decent coat and a pair of boots that will withstand another two months of snow and ice.

What I want to buy: a coat that is warm, weatherproof and well made, shoes that have a sole with decent grip.

What a sixteen year old wants to buy: a coat that makes him look cool, a coat that folds away to the size of a postage stamp when he takes it off (or which actually vanishes into thin air), shoes that make him look six inches taller.

We battled long and hard, up and down the heaving aisles of January shoppers. But the task has been completed at last, and I can rest up for another year. I have fulfilled my parental obligation to purchase appropriate winter clothes for my ungrateful offspring, who will almost certainly entirely neglect to wear them.

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