IT was about 2 years ago that Sporting Declaration arrived at a harsh reality.
During a medical appointment, the doctor asked me to hop on the scales.
With a sense of dread, I looked down and noticed a number that confirmed my worst fears: 90 kilograms.
Who ate all the pies?
To put this in context, when I was married 15 years earlier, I was about 70 kg.
Somehow I had stacked on 20kg since walking down the aisle.
Once I had a 34-inch waist. Now I was bursting out of 38-inch trousers.
Initially I tried to convince myself that it was a natural part of the ageing process.
And besides, there are plenty of halfbacks and hookers in the NRL who are short-arses like this columnist and tipped the scales at around the same mark.
The difference, of course, is that these guys are lean and muscled up after years of weight training.
Yours truly was just a fat slob with skinfolds like Jesse the elephant.
The worst bit was that of the 20kg extra baggage I had accumulated, almost half of it had been stacked on in the space of a year.
Having cycled to work for a decade, I started to get lazy.
I was still riding to work, but barely breaking sweat.
If the weather looked dodgy, I’d drive or cadge a lift.
Meanwhile, I continued to eat (and drink) without giving a second thought to what I was consuming, or when.
Looking down at those doctor’s scales was the wake-up call I needed.
In hindsight, it gave me willpower. And where there’s a will, there’s usually a way.
I decided to resume playing cricket after an eight-year hiatus, which provided invaluable motivation, although I was still sadly out of shape.
I hooked into my cycling again and lost four or five kilos.
But then I plateaued. I was flogging myself on the bike five days a week, but my flubber simply refused to shift.
For more than a year, I hovered around the same weight.
I got the flu and lost a couple of kilos, then put it back on over Christmas. After last year’s festive season, I was about 85 kilos.
And then, a couple of months back, I got an iPhone and discovered the ‘‘My Fitness Pal’’ app.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say this little (free) gizmo has transformed my life.
Basically the app is a calorie counter.
And it is just so easy to use.
You set up a profile, register your current weight and your ‘‘ideal’’ weight, and it calculates a daily calorie intake that will allow you to get there.
After every meal or snack, I call up the app, list what I’ve eaten, and my phone does the math.
I also add any exercise, such as cycling or walking the dog, and it deducts calories.
It takes about 30 seconds.
My workmates have been sledging me about being ‘‘on a diet’’, but I don’t really think that is the case.
I’m not eating celery sticks, tofu and mung beans.
I’m basically eating the same food I have always eaten – in smaller portions – but for the first time in my life I’m keeping track of it.
I have become accountable.
I liken it to someone going shopping at the supermarket.
If you know you have only $200 in your wallet, it’s in your interests to at least keep a rough count to ensure you stay within the budget.
But if you arrive at the supermarket with your credit card and just fill your trolley, you might get a nasty shock at the checkout.
Another way to look at it is if you were to go out for a game of golf and not keep score, you would remember your birdies and pars but disregard the quadruple bogeys. The scorecard keeps you honest.
If I wanted to, I could use the My Fitness Pal app far more precisely.
It breaks down the nutrient details of everything you eat and highlights areas where you have exceeded the recommended daily intake.
I’m too lazy to weigh my food but the app is so user-friendly I reckon any guesswork is reasonably accurate.
It plots a weekly calorie-intake graph and a weight chart.
I certainly don’t stay under my limit religiously. I’m not terribly disciplined. A few beers on a Saturday night is guaranteed to bust the bank.
But it tells me I’ve logged in 45 days in a row. It has become a routine.
I assume there are other similar apps out there that are just as good.
I’ll stick with this one. It’s got me down to 73 kilos – 12 of which I’ve lost since Christmas. Just a few more to go.
And all without Warney-style shakes, the Atkins diet, lemon detox or liposuction.
Just a bit of commonsense, regular exercise ... and a free phone app to provide the direction that I was obviously lacking.
Hopefully that has provided you with some food for thought.
Follow Robert Dillon on Twitter at @robertdillon174