This is Boris Johnson demonstrating his strength by doing press ups in his office. Nothing odd about that in these Covid times. Had the Prime Minister dropped to the floor, mid-interview, last year we might have wondered what was going on, but now this random display of fitness is perfectly normal.
Boris is keen to show that he is, in his words “as fit as a butcher’s dog”, partly to dispel any doubts as to whether he has fully recovered from his stay in intensive care, partly because he accepts that the reason the virus hit him so hard is because he was overweight.
The PM has had a Damascene conversion: he used to subscribe to the fat and fit school of thought, and now he’s going to war on fat, starting with his own and moving swiftly on to tackling the country’s obesity crisis. But also, Boris is 56, the age at which men realise something has to change.
Generally there’ll be a catalyst for this: maybe a photograph of them in a short-legged wetsuit, or a weigh-in for a riding holiday (anything over 15st and you have to pay for a backup horse). Or they get ill. Whichever way, it’s the moment they start to take their BMI seriously.
(Note: some big men feel the call in their forties. For example, Radio X DJ Chris Moyles, who was spotted out and about this week wearing skinny jeans and generally looking five stone thinner than he was back in the day. We can’t vouch for how healthy he is, mind you.)
However, this is still only half the battle won. Man rules for losing weight are weird and inconsistent and the real challenge is to change their attitude. This is why Boris is ideally placed for the job; he knows exactly what men think on this subject, because he was one of them four months ago. For example:
- Running around a tennis court cancels out a roast lunch. Pre Boris Breakthrough, men assumed that a run a day, plus some other activity now and then, gave them permission to eat what they liked.
- Meat doesn’t count. PBB man thinking was that buns, biscuits, chips, bread, and cream made them fat. But salamis, cheese, curries, sausages, pork pies, scotch eggs and so on, all perfectly fine.
- Fish is a bit of a waste of time and only to be eaten as a last resort.
- Hard cheese is fine. It’s the creamy ones that pile on the pounds.
- A barbecue featuring three kinds of meat is the definition of healthy eating. It’s grilled.
- Booze doesn’t really count. If anything, it revs up the system and burns calories.
- Giving up drink on Monday nights makes a massive difference.
- Some forms of keeping fit are just too keen. Note: Boris reassured an interviewer this week that he wouldn’t be “bouncing around with a skipping rope”, which suggests that there may be work to be done on this one.
- Buying the right kit is a step too far. Real men run in their swimming trunks and play tennis with a wooden racquet.
- So long as your fat is firm (fit) it doesn’t matter what weight you are.
Oh it was all so different then.
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