It was Willie Rushton who did it. For years at my radio advertising job, one of the directors would call me “the thin Willie Rushton”, referring to my resemblance to the cartoonist, comedian, co-founder of Private Eye magazine, and an old friend and working colleague of the director. Or, at least, he was. Rushton died in 1996, aged 59, of a heart attack.
I was always flattered by the comparison. And I had to agree, the resemblance was a little on the uncanny side. We were both cartoonists, and I have based a lot of what I do on reading old issues of Private Eye.
The comparisons continued, but less of the “thin” — and I am 14 years away from 59. I decided something must be done.
Diets have challenged me in the past. My will is weak, but this time I managed to give myself an actual aim: not to die at 59 like Willie. And I decided to try for ketosis.
Still a controversial approach, ketosis (and correct me if I am wrong) sees the individual replacing as many carbs as they can with fats and protein. No flour, no rice, no pasta, no bread, no sugar, no sweeteners, no alcohol, no potatoes, no sweet fruit. Eggs, butter, dairy, meat, nuts (not peanuts or cashews), olive oil, coconut oil, cheese and lots of heavy dark greens, kale, spinach, cabbage, leek, sprouts making up half of what you eat (though you can cook them in butter and with bacon). The theory is that high protein and high fat fills you and reduces your appetite over time. You may take in as many calories as before, but you will burn it off far easier than you can carbs just by sitting around, but also with light exercise that you will now have the energy for. It also reduces tiredness. It is not without dangers, however, but I realised my current state was dangerous enough.
So it meant no Easter eggs, I haven’t had a proper drink in a month, and no bagels, nothing from Bread Ahead, no jaffa cakes. Because once you do, apparently, it resets your biological response back and you have to start the process again.
But it does seem to be working for me. I am currently down 18 pounds, or 8 kilos, in the last month. I still have a long way to go until my BMI is any way like normal — basically, I have to do that another three times — I have a target for the end of the year. But, despite being an intenerate snacker, I find myself on two meals a day now without hunger, and I rarely snack (if I do, it’s pecans and macadamia nuts). I feel more energetic. And yesterday I cycled longer than I have cycled in years and feel fine. The aches I had in my knees and back standing up have gone or are reduced within two days.
I have never been able to stick this long to a diet before, and while there are massive temptations, I have resisted so far. I think of Willie Rushton and put down the ginger cake. This actually happened. Now, this is me — it may not be transferable to you. But diet food consisting of bacon, cheese, and scrambled egg is a different world. Although there is only so much cheese you can eat without a cracker to place it upon.
This is, of course, only one man’s experience, but since I finally found something that is working, I thought I would share it.
What has this to do with comics? While many of us are happy with our bodies, some of us are heavier than we would like to be. It often comes with the job. I am still living a relatively sedentary life, with occasional bouts of exercise and a history of diets that have failed at the first strudel.
So I thought I’d share. I hope it helps someone. You may now go back about your business. And on the 31st of December, if all goes well, I will have a booze and bagel bonanza.
Yes, Willie also smoked a pipe, and he also lost a lot of weight before he died, but you can prove anything with facts. Let me delude myself into a healthier body.