I’d been overweight so long that it felt like it was just the shape I was meant to be. But then, a few months ago, my friend Rachel gave me her old Wii-Fit device, complete with balance board. I’ve never been into computer games but even I know that the Wii is no longer fashionable, and there’s much more up-to-date technology to help people exercise, but the thing was, Rachel herself had lost so much weight that I thought it was worth a shot.
Rachel was, if anything, even fatter than me when we met at a Weightwatchers’ meeting a few years back. I join every January when they waive the joining fee - and I usually drop out by mid February. But that year we managed to keep each other motivated until well into the summer before we both finally gave up and called in at the chippy on the way home from one of the meetings. Neither of us ever went back.
But then, in the last few months of last year, Rachel started losing weight. I mean really losing weight - not just the few pounds now and then which we normally achieved. It was miraculous. She was about half her previous weight by Christmas, and she looked great at the New Year’s Eve party we both went to. She was wearing a sparkly dress that showed off her new slender body perfectly. I’d never seen anyone lose excess flab so quickly. She didn’t even have lots of loose skin, like people who’ve lost lots of fat often end up with. She just looked gorgeous and slim and sexy. I was dead jealous.
Beside the buffet table, where I was just grabbing myself some sausage rolls and a piece of black forest gateau, I asked her what her secret was, but she just smiled and tapped the side of her nose mysteriously.
As the new year wore on, however, I didn’t see her for months – it was almost as if she was avoiding me, and when I spoke to mutual friends they told me she was doing the same to them.
‘Maybe she’s met a man,’ suggested one, with a knowing smile. And perhaps that was it. Falling in love can make people drop their friends, at least for a while. It’s happened to me before with other friends. Or maybe she no longer wanted to associate herself with fatties like me – she’d moved on to the beautiful people? Maybe, once the glamour wore off, she’d start seeing her old friends again, and if not, well, she’d’ve lost more than a bit of excess fat, wouldn’t she?
Still, I had to admit, I did miss her. She’d always been up for a laugh – and it was nice having someone who was facing the same struggle with her weight as I was. Though that wasn’t true any more, of course.
I have to admit I was really curious to know what had helped her transform from chubster to hottie so quickly.
Anyway, a few weeks before Halloween, on my birthday, she turned up on my doorstep wearing a long grey coat that looked too big for her, and a pashmina over her head. It was quite chilly but this seemed a bit over-the-top to me. I mean, it’s not as if we live in Alaska. Her face – what I could see of it - looked thin and drawn, and there were dark shadows beneath her eyes. Her cheekbones were very prominent and her lips were pale and dry. She looked like she had the flu.
‘You asked what my secret was,’ she said, standing on the doorstep. ‘And it’s this.’ She placed the Wii console and balance board on the floor at my feet and handed me two bags of accessories: remote controls, nunchuks, discs. I had to put the chocolate hobnob I was holding into my pocket so I could take the bags.
‘What is it?’ I asked her. ‘Are you coming in for a cuppa?’
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