Brian Montieth: My weight gain is pasta joke – it’s time to get fit

Walking can be a great way to get fit
Walking can be a great way to get fit
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Goodness, it’s ­already January 9 – I’ve aged another year in a time when Scottish life ­expectancy is falling. What lies ahead in 2019 when the Brexit clock is counting down – and taking the reputation of our ­politicians with it?

Some things are dependable in life. My Michelin Man waistline remains the same; my bucket list grows longer – and Nicola Sturgeon is still threatening another independence referendum. Will it be any different in 2020?

Well I hope to have returned to a 40in waist and the gift of a new Fitbit might just help me do it. Suddenly a new wardrobe (that I already possess but I have rarely graced) will open up to me. Those business suits I bought three years ago that wink at me when I have an important meeting. Those screamingly loud pink Marco Polo shorts I bought two summers ago have yet to attend a barbecue. The tight fitting T-shirts that are only ­permissible under a shirt worn loose.

It all has to change, and walking is what’s going to do it I am telling myself. I get lots of swimming in the summer that helps me shed a few pounds, but like our long-haired white cat Monty, I fatten up in the winter months when the most exercise I get is walking through airports between terminals. I need to develop a better fitness-driven routine and more walking and rediscovering my bicycle are the first ports of call I hope to make this month.

It’s not that I don’t eat healthily; I cook all that we eat at home from fresh, there are plenty of vegetables and pulses – but I admit to too much dairy and an affection for potatoes of all descriptions and variations. But beyond having more exercise and ­cutting back on the cheese, cream and potatoes (often in combination) I know what the real problem is – my portion control!

I like a glass of wine with my meal, and I don’t believe that is a bad thing. But have you seen how the size of wine glasses has ballooned over the last decade or more? When I first started quaffing, a small Paris glass was the norm. Sure it had to be topped up more often but I’ve no doubt that these goldfish bowls that pass for wine glasses – and look great on a dinner table – have helped my consumption rise. Then there is the crockery. When I was a kid or even a teenager I would eat like a horse but burn it all off. Plate sizes were modest to say the least and I would often have a second helping – especially at school dinners, where we used to have roast potato eating competitions or fight over the skin on the custard jug!

I had a milk round in the morning and a paper round after school – then it became paper rounds at either end of the day – climbing three storeys of tenements to deliver The Scotsman or Evening News. I was as lean as the proverbial butcher’s dog (I never saw one at McAlpines, my butchers!).

But then something happened – I learned to drive and plate sizes started to increase. Now, like wine glasses my plates are massive and the bowls could take the Scottish fishing fleet (what’s left of it). I blame pasta; I never knew pasta in my mum’s house – except macaroni cheese (which never qualified as pasta, we just thought of it as a Scottish dish). But when spag bol and especially tagliatelli carbonara arrived, the pasta bowl replaced the soup plate and then started getting bigger and bigger.

It has to stop. I have to park my big bowls and humongous wine goblets. I need more self-discipline and its happening this year. I promise – honest, it’s more likely than Nicola Sturgeon refusing to have another referendum. Watch this space to find out.