Mid-winter is a widespread occasion for a sobering look at one’s protuberant belly. Although the aim is less about the Darwinian theme and more about the Ralph Lauren objective – that is, less about diet and more about appearance – healthful eating is always cogent. It’s at least intellectually inspiring. And that of course is the real problem; namely, raising the spirited ambition from chatter to action.
The current book instruction and now accepted starting point for maintaining a racehorse figure is more about popular psychology than classic deprivation. The thrust of the hypotheses is that one must seek to puzzle out what inner sense of consumption and reward governs one’s habits at the trough. It is a persuasive theory when considering that few of us borders on starvation. It is however less forceful at the sideboard when plating the eggs, bacon, toast and preserves.
As convincing as it may be, the alternate suggestion that the sole necessity is portion control – namely, that you can eat whatever you want but just in smaller portions – I personally prefer the specification of a diet sensibly directed to so-called healthy living which historically includes fruit, nuts, vegetables and fish. The other reality is that in the presence of sugary fodder i seldom display restraint. Sweets are for me like gambling, a risk worth taking until all hope is removed. The regrettable consequence of such flutter is more than metaphorically a pig in a poke. In either case the laugh’s on you!
A pig in a poke is a thing that is bought without first being inspected, and thus of unknown authenticity or quality. The idiom is attested in 1555:
I wyll neuer bye the pyg in the poke
Thers many a foule pyg in a feyre cloke
A “poke” is a bag, so the image is of a concealed item being sold.
I have normally sought to relieve my lack of dietary prepotence by sustaining moderate physical activity. This in my particular atmosphere means two things: bicycling or swimming. Anything else is manifestly impossible or demonstrably impertinent at my age. Bicycling has the additional appeal that it affords the option of a tricycle motorized by an electronic gizmo. Until I reach that elevation – or descend to that depth – I am obliged to reacquaint myself with life without carrot cake, life without maple syrup and life without butter. It is a sparse horizon indeed! Nonetheless the arrival of the mid-winter status promotes not only the lessening effect of abstinence but also the vigour of the arrival of Spring! It is time to turn a page!