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Ideas please for weight-losing, a PS on Piers Morgan

Posted on 7 July 2010 | 3:07am

I promise I am not coming over all girly, in a ‘does my bum look big in this?’ kind of way, but I am on the lookout for a few quickfire diet ideas.

Having just stepped on the weighing scales – something I have avoided doing since sensing my heavier weight coming on and staying, especially when running, cycling or climbing stairs – I finally did so a few moments ago after stepping out of the shower.

It could be resisted no longer, as I was overtaken on Regent’s Park canal this morning by someone I can only describe as a large-bottomed high end of 30-something female not of naturally athletic bent.

So on I popped … and for the first time since I was on steroids (already admitted in Prelude to Power, to treat ulcerative colitis, rather than for sport/doping reasons) I was on the wrong side of fifteen stone. For the kilogrammers among you, that is above 90, and pointing towards 100. Bad, bad, bad, unless I want to be a heavyweight boxer, for which I may be a bit old.

Now as I am 6 feett 3 inches tall, and fairly big built, so 15′ 4″ might not sound too much, and because it has not yet gone too much on my face, and I have developed those middle-aged spread breathing-in techniques, I probably look lighter than I am. But it is way too much when in my head I am closer to 35 than the 53 years I have actually been around; and way too much a few weeks out from a holiday that always entails zipping (or snailing) up and down Mont Ventoux on a bike, or training for the Great North Run.

I met up with Brendan Foster in Gateshead on Monday and he told me the wonderful story of Chris Chataway, now in his 80th year, who called the GNR organisers the other day to ask what the cut-off point was for the ‘top 20 per cent’ doing the run. Told that it was 1 hour 50, he said that was great, because it gave him a good target for his training. At 79 years of age!!

I have done the GNR several times, usually well under 1.50, but if I was to do it tomorrow, a combination of inflexible limbs – why oh why did I never listen to all those strictures about stretching? – and excess poundage would give me absolutely no chance.

So like Chris, I need a schedule, but I also need to lose a few pounds. The only time I have ever deliberately tried to lose weight before, I went on a strict no carbs diet. It worked so far as losing the excess pounds was concerned, but it also led to massive energy crashes when out running and cycling so it was a bit counter productive.

I also cannot be bothered reading books about it, so I was hoping a bit of interactive dieting might give me the ideas, the inspiration, and the public pressure to keep myself on the straight and narrow as the Boost bars, flapjacks, Daim bars, fruit cakes and puddings hove into view.

And before anyone says ‘just ask George Osborne to make 25 per cent cuts,’ I have already thought of that one.

*** Ps big response to my tweet this morning about my neighbour’s son asking me to get Piers Morgan’s autograph, not least from Piers, who obviously sits there monitoring his mentions while he waits to become the next Larry King. ‘Don’t think I haven’t worked out you keep needing to tweet about me to get your hit rate up,’ he texts me.’ Can you believe the impertinence of the man? After all I did for him, in helping him out of the door at the Mirror and onto the road to the fame that he always craved …

*** Buy Prelude to Power here at Amazon.

  • Cuse

    Diet advice? Don’t eat as much. It’s painfully simple!

  • Jo

    Dukan diet really works. Lots of fat free yoghurt, cottage cheese, oat bran, water and lean meats but barely a rice cracker.

  • Rob Barker

    I’m on a Carol Vorderman detox at the moment. Once a year for a month. Pretty horrible. Was gonna try a cauliflower curry recipe last night from the book but it was pretty basic and it turns out Nigel Slater’s book Tender had a tremendous Cauliflower and Potato curry in it.

    As someone who loves eating crisps and pop I think the best way to approach healthy eating is to look to Indian food – spicy and tasty and naturally vegetarian, which’ll help take off the pounds.

  • Matthew

    Keep a large stock of dried fruit to snack on. It’s filling and makes it easier to resist chocolate, biscuits, etc.

    Have soup for lunch every day. If you make it yourself you can use filling ingredients like lentils and keep the fat / carbohydrate content low.

    Increase the quantity of vegetables in your meals and reduce starchy / fatty stuff accordingly.

  • Patsy Greaham

    Eat half as much, run twice as long

  • Keith Macmillan

    You beat me by seven minutes in a triathlon a couple of years back, and I am 27 years younger than you. So don’t beat yourself up too much

  • Andrea Webber

    Piers, can you get Alastair’s autograph for me?

  • Chris

    Er, try showing the late Gordon Brown how to get to Westminster and how to serve his constituents properly. That would give you a bit of exercise, especially getting him out of his chair to start with….

  • niru

    1. Don’t worry about Regent’s Canal overtake – last night I was overtaken outside Sadlers Wells and then 15 minutes later on Regents Canal by the same man. A puzzling experience – but the trick is to remember that you’re probably burning more calories at a steady pace for longer.

    2. Switch from drinking the endless cups of tea with milk in it to no milk no sugar.

  • Helen

    If it’s a short term weight loss you want replace a meal (or 2) with a protein drink eat more fruit and veg and plenty of pasta (careful with the cream sauce) to keep the weight off no between meals snacks

  • PR-Anja

    – you cannot loose weight in a week you’ve been drinking alcohol. If you think you must drink, have no beer. Have white wine soda instead but never more than 2 glasses every three days.
    – Eat more things with loads of water in, like watermelon, apples, veg.
    – in case you have favourite guilty pleasures, swop them for lighter options and stick to them. Have a hot cross bun instead of a mars bar. Have fruity ice instead of milk ice. No cream.
    – Make a new habit of drinking water, tea (skimmed milk), drink no juices at all.

    Most people don’t knwow wether they are hungry or just craving for sth. If you only eat when hungry – lucky you. If not: Make a note every hour: “how hungry am I?”
    – Eat satisfying things only.
    – enjoy eating, stop when your are full.
    Good luck

  • sarah dodds

    I have lost just over 65lbs since having my last baby 18 monts ago. No gym membership, no gut churning diet groups. Thus my tips are
    a) do it as a bet. I’m quite competitive, so on my facebook page I asked people not to sponsor me but to bet me I could not do it. If I manage to lose the agreed total, the bet money from them is going to Haiti. If I flunk it and am still a lard arse, I have to pay up the total value of their bets.
    b) I have weekly goals – when I have lost a pound a week I can have chocolate/kebab/curry/fish and chips. (Not altogether – just one)
    c) If I reach my monthly target of 4lb a month I get new clothes. ALthough this might not motivate blokes in the same way…
    d) Wii Fit
    e) Mullerlight yoghurts – the ones with chocolate bits in, (especially the cherry ones). Fat free and you can almost pretend it’s a proper pudding.
    f) Masses of pepsi-max.
    Good luck.

  • Nicola

    I would try perhaps a gluten-free diet i.e. no bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits. If you have to have bread have rye bread. Perhaps a rule of no carbs after 6pm so you don’t end up having late night snacks.
    If you have time, it might be worth seeing if you are sensitive to any type of food by getting an appointment with a nutritionist.

  • s chapman

    Solution – you and Piers Morgan go into a boxing ring and knock 7 bells out of each other.
    You both complete the necessary weight loss you both require and the rest of us have a laugh and hopefully you both take ages to recover and keep off the air waves for a good long while !

  • Carly

    Consider it to be ‘more of the right things’ rather than less of the bad.

    Keeping yourself hydrated works as your body often confuses hunger with thirst so you’ll get less pangs mid-morning.

    I’m on a vegetarian low-GI diet which keeps my fat intake low, green principles high and energy maintained! That’s not to say I don’t have the odd bad day, but I don’t beat myself up about it; I just move on and don’t give up and demolish the nearest packet of biscuits in solace.

    But remember this is all pointless without exercise… I’m training for the GNR again this year too!

  • Nicola

    Also your bmi(body mass index) is 26.7 which is just overweight. Heathy BMI is 18.5-24.9 BMI is not the best measure as it does not take into account muscle mass but also be aware that some people spend their lives at 25/26/27BMI and are absolutely healthy.

  • Ralph

    fifteen stones and on steroids?! OMG. i can’t imagine how disproportionate the size of your body is to the size of your balls…

  • Jacquie R

    I find formal diets tedious and inconvenient, but my own simple method has always worked when my clothes suddenly seem to have shrunk a couple of sizes.

    For the first day or two I eat mainly fruit and salad and I immediately FEEL skinny, which is a great motivator. Believe me, Alastair, the pain of the deprivation is so made up for by the feeling of heroism and fairy lightness. Probably not a good idea to run a marathon (or eat one) on those days, but brisk walking away from Piers Morgan is excellent.

    After that kickstart, I eat normal quantities of food but cut down seriously on fats and sugar until my clothes have regained their size.

    If I still think (for it is an illusion) I’m hungry after or between meals, I drink water or chew gum. The latter may not be rather bovine, but ex smokers will understand the loneliness of the empty mouth.

    NB chocoholics, although of no help in your case, AC. The calories of six jaffa cakes equals those of three glasses of wine – a reasonable substitute when you want the feel-good factor without the hangover.

  • Graham Jones

    For those who are interested, a friend in Fife told me that Gordon Brown has been involved with a lot of work in his constituency; schools, charities and businesses. He was in the Daily Record last week promoting music projects in local schools, so is still very much alive.
    He’s been inundated with offers from universities, which is where his heart really lies – in education. Two Ivy League colleges are after his services, Harvard and Yale, as a travelling Proffessor, with his old University in Edinburgh also keen to have him on board.
    It’s something of a back-handed compliment that he is missed in Westminster, it shows up the lack of substance in the current government, and that people are beginning to realise what they have lost. He was far from perfect, but he got the job done. With Gordon, you always knew he was on the side of the people, and that’s who he’s with now – his own kith and kin in Fife.

  • Trickie Dickie

    Amputation works everytime and you never put one once back on.
    One leg for a man your size is about 1.5 stone. An arm about 0.5 stone so work out how much you need to lose and contact a good surgeon or a friend in the local Knackers yard.
    Does have some side effects mind you so be sure you have thought it through first.

  • Kate Selwood

    I have recently lost two and a half stone. I kept a food diary and wrote down everything I ate each day with a view to restricting my calorie intake to around 1200 per day. This worked for me – I didn’t cut anything out of my diet (life’s too short to give up the things you like) but I just cut back. I also started doing pilates plus a brisk 30 minute walk twice a day (school run) and this combined with the food diary helped me achieve the result I wanted. Good luck!

  • kathy

    Diets don’t work long term. Whenever I’ve tried to diet I just constantly want to eat. Don’t deny yourself anything you fancy, just eat a bit less of it than you would normally. Use a smaller plate for your main meal and go for a nice walk after dinner. The pounds will drop off without pain. Then the problem is not getting too complacent about the new,slimmer you and deciding you can afford to have a bit more now. It takes about a month to get used to the new eating regime (not diet) and you find yourself adjusting to eating less.Well it’s worked for me three times now and as soon as I finish this cream cake I’m going to start again.

  • Amie

    53?! Well u still look pretty good for 53 IMO x

  • kathy

    Re Gordon Brown, I think people should now leave him alone. There is an element of cruelty creeping in which is very unpleasant.

  • Kitty

    Well it seems like you already have the exercise bit covered and as someone earlier has said, diets don’t work in the long run. Your best bet is to cut down on alcohol… amazing how many calories one can knock back with a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, a few beers with the lads whilst watching the footie…

    Cut out the alcohol for a month and see what happens!

  • Paul Carswell

    I am 5′ 11 and weighed 16 1/2 stone last september. By December I had lost lost 3 and a half stone in 3 months on a thing called Lighterlife. I have maintained my new weight at 13 stone since then. I was always sceptical about diets.
    However, the biggest change ( apart from the weight loss, feeling better and being more energised about exercise), is the change in my attitude and understanding about foods ( eg what foods maintain my body ( and mind) in good nick). Doesn’t mean I don’t let my hair down every now and again – but I’ve learned a balance now that I didn’t have before.
    Worth a look – they do a shorter programme for smaller weight loss targets. Do it now before you get breathless tying your shoelaces! 🙂

  • Tim

    I wish Gordon Brown would get his backside into the Commons and give the coalition a bit of stick. The Labour Party is giving them such an easy time it’s a joke. Brown should have stayed on until the leadership election was over, as the Party is wallowing and the coalition is getting away with absolute murder.

    Where’s the bloody passion? Where’s the anger at what they’re talking about doing? Who is going to actually OPPOSE this government?

    Get your act together, Labour.

  • kathy

    Kitty, I may be wrong but I think I read somewhere that Alastair does not drink any more.

  • Robert Jackson

    We know you can’t cut out the alcohol related empty calories. ‘cos you don’t do them!

    But perhaps you can look back to the start of your path to sobriety and the cravings for a drink. Try using the same ways to cut out the naughty but nice that are keeping on the pounds.


    Cream buns.

    No – it doesn’t work for me either. The chocolate wins every time. But not the wretched alcohol. Not for now. Take pride in that and don’t get too steamed up about the odd inch round your waist.

  • Laura

    Great to have your blog back again! Re. weight loss: sympathise with your condition. Best foods to maintain weightloss without losing energy are grilled chicken, poached fish, baked beans,green veg, spinach, tomotoes. I find little changes helpful, such as eating a bowl of cereal when you’re craving crisps or substituting gluten free pasta in place of durum wheat which can be hard to digest, so you don’t really feel like you’re on a diet. To avoid irritation of digestive system, avoid things like citrus fruits or foods that take more energy to break down like celery, potato skins, etc. I’m a chocoholic and still managed to lose 3 stone in 8 months but eat a bar a day! 3 essentials: green tea burns 2 calories per cup, peppermint eases digestive complaints like colitis, as does ginger.

  • Sophie

    I managed to lose 25% of my body weight whilst in hospital having emergency surgery to remove my colon due to severe ulcerative colitis. Maybe you could try that?

  • Janete


    I think you’re right about cruelty towards Gordon Brown. I see it as a continuation of the appalling character assassination we witnessed during the election campaign. I still can’t believe the media got away with deliberately cleaning up the Duffy tape in order to damage him. The first playback of the tape on BBC was completely inaudible – in fact they had to attach subtitles to suggest what they thought he had said. Somebody, at Sky or the BBC, authorised the technical work necessary to reveal the contents of this private conversation.

    Those commenting on his absence now merely want to put the boot in again. It’s shameful.

    AC – only thing that works for me is just to cut out sweets, puddings and between meal snacks. Otherwise eat normally. If you must snack, eat only fruit. As soon as I try to follow any other kind of diet, I just crave food more.

  • Graham Jones


    Gordon’s done the right thing by the party, by staying out the way till there’s a new leader. He would be criicised no matter what he did, but he knows the party need the time and space to hold a leadership debate, without him hanging around. Besides, he’s earned the right to spend time in Fife with his own people. They know him best, and he wants to repay their loyalty.
    Anyway, it’s not the Labour party that’s not robust, it’s the hapless media. Besides, it may not be too long before No.2 resignation, judging by Groveling Gove’s night of apologies. This story hasn’t finished either, as the government could be faced with compensating the building firms who have lost out. All because Gove couldn’t get a few facts right. At this rate, the coalition will be in tatters by Christmas. So leave Gordy alone, as Harriet and Co are doing fine. Ed Balls will gain from this, as he was the one who pushed this issue, and got the speaker to demand an apology be made. It’s a good night for Labour.

  • Gayle Court

    No carbs after midday Alastair, that’ll do it.

  • Jac

    You run, cycle and have a busy life just like me.
    Sailing and laughter are your two missing ingredients. Add those and those extra pounds will dissolve.

    btw just finished Maya. Thank you for that. I loved it!

  • Tiffany Brinks III

    Just before retiring in January, I spent my last few bits of extra cash on a trainer. For various health reasons, I had been told by my doctor to lose 2 stone. The trainer had me keep a diet diary for two weeks and then did a calculation of my calorie intake. She gave me a target of 1200 calories a day and suggested the GI diet (low on sugars of any kind — even those in carbs).

    I used to swim a mile a day but no longer had easy access to a gym after retirement. So the weight loss has been solely related to this new diet. So far I have lost 22 lbs. Good luck with getting your extra pounds off, diets do seem to work even when you are an OAP like me.

  • alanmcgregor

    Alastair – like most things, its really easy: Try to serious limit your food intake after say 5 or 6pm. It works, especially if you combine it with running, etc. Of course, the difficult part is sticking to it.

    I found sticking hard to this regime for the business week and allowing myself to go back to normal eating at weekends (but not go crazy) worked well. Psychologically if you are struggling through the week, you know that you just have to make the weekend to have some ‘fun’..

    Good luck – I am going back to this regime on SEP 1 so will see how we get on.

  • Red


    I think you may have answered the question yourself. Go low carbs but don’t take unplanned significant exercise. If you want to run/cycle for more than 20 minutes, make sure the previous one or two meals are reasonably hearty. Also, half a pint of fruit juice half an hour before the exercise is helpful. Worked for me – lost two stone in one year.

  • BlairSupporter

    Alastair – drink loads of water, even just before bed and cut out butter. Use triangular cheese spreads instead. It worked for me. I lost over 70 packs of butter in just over a year. Apart from that you can eat most things in moderation. Have a large baked potato – HUGE one – for lunch with beans/tuna ect. As for booze – I don’t think it’s a good idea, apart from a glass or two of wine a week.

  • twiga07


    I got a reply back from BBC about their election coverage. If you are interested, I’ll forward it to you.

  • Matt

    Diet advice: if it’s green or if it f**cks, eat it. Everything else, avoid. I got this advice from the man who trains just about every movie star filming in Britain.

    And have you not learned your lesson about remarking on women’s bums???

  • fam4th

    Imbibe Barry Sears’ research on eating in the zone, it’s especially useful for athletes..and please keep writing your blog. I live in the US and reading it is like taking in a gulp of fresh air each time (I do agree with Fiona though about Iraq and Jeremy Clarkson..still, who’s perfect?)

  • Bill

    The Tory Diet ie cut down between 25 to 40% and use the money you save to prop up the food intake of those even fatter than yourself. Go jogging with Lib Dems as they will wish to put some distance between themselves and the more unsavoury elements of the Tory regime,Good Luck!

  • jackmack

    Well! Tony Blair’s right hand man, the Iago to Blair’s Othello, Prince Hal to his Falstaff, power behind the No 10 throne, writing blogs about being thought too ‘girly’, worried about his diet, his weight, eating too many fruit cakes, etc…yes fruit cakes, that just about says it all…!

  • Barry D

    Now that it appears the ideas for weight loss, diet regimes,and exercise hints have been exhausted, I’m sorry don’t mean to be a black cloud on matters but can we get back to the really serious issues ? This Government has inflicted catastrophic damage on schools and the future of children in this country. They did not have a mandate do this and have unbelievably even for the LibDems conned them into some sort of human shield to take the flak. The electorate will not forget this and at the next election, the LibDems will be wiped out. That is unless of course the cards of consituencies are shuffled in the Tories favour.

  • Angie

    Alastair, I was at the Trim Festival and I thought you looked very trim!! (Really enjoyed the night and I thought you were great!!) Seriously though, you’re someone who is very health conscious (in that you’re a runner, and obviously conscious of what you look like – not a bad thing!), that makes you someone who is unlikely to put on too much weight because you’ll be watching what you eat and amount of exercise that you’ll be doing. No need to panic (not that you were ever in that state) yet, you’re ok (as they you used to say in the US in the 70’s).

  • Anonymous

    Hi Alastair – did you lose it and keep it off?
    Have you considered hypnotherapy? – not as weird as it sounds.

  • Rokhsanafiaz

    Easy – just eat less. 

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