One of the very best things about quitting drinking is losing the dreaded Wine Belly.
Here's how I described mine just after I quit, eight months ago:
I have a horrible, muffin topped wine belly. As I sit here in my size 12 (US size 8) skinny jeans, a little roll of flab - like a child's rubber ring in the swimming pool - is hanging over my belt. Lovely. If I lie down in the bath (spoiler alert, do not read this if you are eating lunch), and grab my belly fat with both hands it is - ironically - about the size of a bottle of vino.
(For my full post on Wine Bellies click here)
I wouldn't describe my belly now as a pancake, but it's certainly no more than a gentle hillock. If I grab the belly fat in the bath these days, it's about the size of one of those pathetically small, two gulps and it's gone, bottles of wine they serve with your meal on airlines (I always used to ask for two, obviously).
I got the tape measure out again, and my waist has gone from 36" to 33", my belly from 41" to 37", and my hips from 43" to 39". That's pretty incredible!
I have a favourite belt which, for years, I could - with a bit of breathing in - just about fasten on the first hole. It's now, comfortably, on the 4th hole. And nothing spills over the top of my jeans any more. I'm certainly not wearing crop tops, but nor am I scaring the shoppers if I reach up to a high shelf at the supermarket and accidentally expose my midriff.
This is, obviously, great news in an aesthetic sense, but, according to research published this week, it's also amazing news for your health.
It is, apparently, way better to be obese all over than to be relatively skinny with a beer/wine belly.
The study showed that normal-weight adults who carried fat around their middles had twice the risk of early death than those who were overweight or obese but with normal fat distribution.
The reason belly fat is so dangerous is that it doesn't just sit under the skin and wobble (like the bingo wings or thunder thighs), it wraps itself around your vital organs and massively increases your risk of stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
(For more on this see this article by CNN)
To see if you're at risk just divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. The magic number is under 0.85. Mine used to be 0.87 (BAD), it's now 0.846 (GOOD - just).
So, quit the vino and you'll lose the muffin top and live longer. What's not to like?
Don't fret if you've stopped drinking and haven't yet lost any weight, or the belly. It takes time. Plus, to start with you really need to be kind to yourself, and if that means eating a whole mountain of cake to keep the wine witch at bay, then so be it. One thing at a time. Baby steps.
It will shift eventually, little by little, half a pound or so a week, which will all add up to a huge amount of vanishing lard. In eight months I've lost 17 pounds. That's a whole toddler I'm no longer carrying around with me.
(For more on this see Stop Drinking, Lose Weight?)
Happy, sober and skinny Saturday to you all.