NO ONE becomes a journalist for the money. Salaries are small and getting smaller, but somehow the profession retains enough glamour to whet the appetite of thousands of naïve and willing-to-intern graduates. If only they knew. Gone are the days when riotous hacks congregated nightly in the Groucho to drink the bar dry; generous expense budgets are a thing of the past. A colleague who’s been in the game longer than me speaks wistfully of the days he used to be admonished for not spending enough on the company credit card. “If you carry on like that”, his boss said, “you’ll make us all look bad”.
Poor us. Still, there remain a few treats that help to make the entire thing worth it. One of these is the opportunity to review swanky new resorts for the travel pages. Long before I undertook my ten week body transformation – for which I am required to cut out alcohol and carbs – I signed up for a “Gourmet tour of Tuscany” trip in the middle of October.
Two weeks into the regime and I was going strong. My will power had proved a steadfast defence against bread, pasta and even those cheese and bacon croissants from Pret. But could it keep me safe in Italy, the spiritual home of the carbohydrate? In short, no. On the first night, there was a four course meal with a set menu. The first course was spinach and ricotta ravioli. The second? Saffron risotto. The third? Lamb with rosemary potatoes. To salve my conscience I left a token bit of the first two but by the time the lamb came around I was licking the plate clean. And then there was the wine tasting... Knowing we were journalists they provided no bucket for spitting.
Returning to London, I guiltily confessed my dereliction to my trainer. He was not impressed. “Just tell me you didn’t have pasta.” Sorry. It’s Tuscany – what do you expect? My punishment: a week of extra intense sessions focusing on the legs. Apparently leg workouts are the most effective way of burning fat because they employ the biggest muscle groups. They’re also the most exhausting. A week later we did my second body fat reading and I was relieved to discover my Italian excursion hadn’t undone all my good work. I’ve gone from 27.5 per cent body fat to 22.5. My legs are unrecognisable. Strange, hard lumps have appeared above my knee. My trainer assures me they are muscles.
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