What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Hello, I’m Robyn. You may remember me from sticking tampons up my nose, solving advertising and losing 13% of my body fat through a controversial extreme diet.
Historically I have been the sort of idiot who thinks cigarettes and lattes constitute a “nutritious breakfast” (because CALCIUM), but now I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle. So won’t you join me, gentle reader, on the adventure I like to call ROBYN WILDER AND THE TEMPLE OF THE BODY?
PART ONE: STRESS AND GINSTERSThe week I finish my very low calorie diet , I am full of ambition. I will do strength, cardio, spin and Pilates! At the gym! FOUR TIMES A WEEK! I will learn a new healthy packed lunch recipe every fortnight! I will bite the bullet and sign up for that tribal style bellydance course I’ve been lusting after/terrified of for years! It’s going to be awesome! And sweaty! Basically I’ll be Shakira at the end of it!
Then my mother falls seriously ill and I basically have to take December off to look after her. My mother’s illness is urgent and upsetting, and there’s a lot to do.
She lives alone and I’m her only offspring in the country, so it’s up to me to take five weeks off work and roll up my sleeves. Even more helpfully, my mother lives in the Shire, I don’t drive and, for various reasons, I can’t stay at her place while I look after her – so I spend my days completing a five-hour rail London-Shire-London round trip, and hanging out in hospitals (on the plus side, I get to read all of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. No, I’m still not sure what it’s about. Everyone does a lot of yoga and slices up loads of daikon radishes, though, I can tell you that).
To be honest, my healthy eating plan goes out of the window – because suddenly I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t sit in one place for more than a minute. Save for one freezing afternoon, when I am relegated to a rail replacement bus while my mother, in pain, texts me from her hospital bed and I’m still two hours from seeing her.
I will admit, then, to tearfully gnawing on the corner of a Ginsters chicken and mushroom slice. But generally, choking food down is like trying to swallow rocks.
After a week of this I start to unclench. My mother, while still ill, is at least stable and being cared for in hospital. My appetite returns, so I cook something hearty and comforting, but relatively low-calorie and light on the stomach:
Philadelphia bacon-wrapped chicken with cauliflower mash (Serves 2, around 500 calories per serving - apologies to vegetarians, and to competent cooks – I’m going to imagine here that you’re at my level of cooking skills, which is, essentially, can’t.
Slit open a couple of chicken breast fillets, and smear a couple of teaspoons of Philadelphia Extra Light onto them, and season.
Wrap each fillet in two rashers of bacon, brown them in a frying pan for a couple of minutes on each side, then bake on a foil-covered tray in a medium-high oven for 20 minutes.
While that’s all happening, chop up an entire cauliflower then overboil it for around 10 minutes in a saucepan. Drain it, plop your squashy cauliflower back in the pan, add two tablespoons of Philadelphia Extra Light and one teaspoon of ground garlic, and mash until creamy.
I AM NOT A FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER, but trust me – it’s delicious. Comforting, low-carb (if you’re into that sort of thing), and the cauliflower mash is a revelation – creamy and moreish like mashed potato, but less like an anvil in your colon at the end of the evening.
Wine, rest and nice food give me enough perspective to realise that, even though I’m looking after my mother, my own life doesn’t have to grind to a halt. So I sign back up for the gym and finally commit to the tribal bellydancing course, even though I’m petrified.
Tribal bellydance is supposed to look graceful and exotic, like a combination of traditional Indian dance, Salsa, and Vogueing:
I suspect my efforts will be more along the lines of this:
Tune in next time to find out how Robyn did, and follow her on Twitter @orbyn as she further enhances her life with cheese and bacon.