How hot yoga and my hot fella have helped me keep my weight down...
A year on from her diet, how is our writing getting on?
A year ago, I decided to put the fork down. I was sick of trying to hide the flab threatening to spill over the waist of my jeans.
A few embarrassing snaps on Facebook after a weekend away with a gang of friends helped me to make my mind up.
In every picture, I was either holding a bottle of beer in my hand or stuffing my face.
I looked horrendous in my too-tight mini skirt and ankle boots that showed off my chubby legs.
When I came home, I signed up for a 10-week charity diet with three pals. The four of us had a lot in common – we were all single girls with busy jobs and a hectic social life. Our idea of exercise was dancing in Langton's in Kilkenny in between downing shots at the weekend.
We reckoned that committing to a charity weight loss plan was a good idea – it was in aid of the Susie Long Hospice Fund – and we would be publicly humiliated if we didn't follow it through.
We put in a massive effort and it paid off. I lost 18lbs – bringing my weight from 11st 6lbs to 10st 2lbs. The girls also dropped the weight with each of them losing an average of 10lbs.
We helped each other through the tough times, meeting up to complain when we were missing our favourite take-always. Instead of hitting the local pub after a long day at work, we signed up for hot yoga. We sweated out the calories by doing yoga moves in 40-degree heat.
Every evening, there was some kind of physical activity. We went swimming and walking – and did anything to avoid being sucked onto the couch.
There's nothing worse than a Coronation Street omnibus to bring on a bout of the munchies.
We ate low GI foods – and made sure to "cancel" out any treats such as chocolate by translating the calories into walks. Curly Wurlys were our favourite – as they only took 20 minutes to walk off.
We knew every trick in the book and chomped our way through grapefruits – convinced they would speed up our metabolism.
The tricky bit about weight loss, as anyone whose ever dieted knows, is keeping it off.
So, dear readers, you're probably wondering if the four of us managed to keep the weight off? Are we still devoted yoga goers who never let a bar of Cadbury's pass our lips?
The truth is we've had a 50pc success rate. Two of us have managed to, more or less, stay the same weight after the diet – and two of us have not. But the four of us are a long way off reformed. Slowly but surely, we've all slipped back into many of our old ways. And for the past few months, we've been more likely to bump into each other in the local pub than in yoga class.
The past year has brought its ups and downs weight-wise. It's very tricky to stay the same weight all of the time but one tip from our dietician, Tom Brennan, stayed with me throughout the year. He told us to weigh ourselves regularly – warning that alarm bells should go off when we're three pounds off our ideal weight. It's better to tackle it early on than to allow it to spiral. That's why checking your weight once a week is a good idea.
I faced my fear this week and stood on the scales. I was surprised to see that I'm almost the same as 12 months ago – and have only put on one pound. A couple of things have saved me.
First off, I felt my weight creeping up over Christmas. Every time I reached for the box of Roses or Milk Tray – or worse again – a glass of wine, I did some damage. If you're not weighing yourself, clothes are a good tell-tale sign. As soon as I felt my jeans getting tight, I knew I had to change my eating habits once again.
For the month of January, I cut back on the booze and the weight fell off again. One thing the diet taught me was to recognise my weaknesses. Mine is a night out – as the more alcohol I drink, the more likely I am to eat crap food. This is a double whammy when it comes to weight gain as beer contains a huge amount of calories.
The second thing that has saved me is I now have a boyfriend. Without getting into too much detail, let's just say there are more fun ways to burn off fat than working out in a boring gym. After just a few weeks into the relationship, a few friends remarked that I looked in better shape.
There's also an added incentive to stay slim . . . the new man looks after his body and has a "six-pack". When it comes to Irish men, the only six-pack they normally come with, is stored in his fridge. His efforts to keep his abs toned shamed me into doing the same.
While I've managed to hold my own weight-wise, I'm glad that the wobble over Christmas gave me "the fear" again. It reminded me how quickly I can pile on the pounds. If I'm not vigilant, I might balloon.
I think keeping an eye on my weight is something I need to do for the rest of my life. I'll never be a calorie-counting obsessive who is afraid to eat a slice of her own birthday cake. But I have to bear in mind that this dieting lark is all about basic mathematics. If I want to eat bigger portions, I need to be prepared to work it off afterwards.