I’m at an exclusive address in the city, lying on a white leather couch with what amounts to a fancy vacuum-cleaner sucking up the fat on my stomach, and I’m flicking through magazines that seem to be reporting from a planet almost exclusively occupied by women who are (a) dumped by their footballer boyfriends (usually for their best friends); (b) struggling with weight loss; (c) celebrating weight loss; or (d) wondering whether their aforementioned weight loss could be excessive. I turn the page to see a bikini selfie accompanied by sample quote: “I was advised to get my breast implants removed but that would involve eight weeks away from the gym, and I just can’t do that.” I nearly cried at that one.
And, yes, the irony that I myself am undergoing a fat-reducing treatment while reading about all this does not escape me.
Which brings me back to why I’m lying on a white leather couch in the first place. Fear not, the bikini selfie is not going to happen; my quest is more about taking stock. If my weight has gone up, then the month of August (and any body anxiety that comes with it), is the time I use to bring it back down.
Everyone has their own motivation – mine is that I want my clothes (be it a bikini, tummy-restraining swimsuit, or kaftan) to fit. I focus on healthy eating, test new treatments, talk to the gym people, and, hopefully, seeing my body return to factory settings, as they say. To which end, here are a few of my favourite new quick-fixes.
Two weeks before going away: LipoContrast (the fancy vacuum-cleaner treatment I mentioned above) targets “difficult areas” such as pot bellies, love handles and the bits holding us back from a career as a catwalk model, by freezing the fat cells until lethal crystals form inside them (cue scary evil laughter). The idea of freezing fat cells is not a new one but this new machine promises faster results because it’s the first to alternate freezing fat cells with heating them up. The treatment, which costs £800, requires one to two sessions, but the effects are seen almost immediately, as opposed to the months the “old” machines took.
The treatment itself doesn’t hurt but for 48 hours afterwards expect some evil-looking bruising (as if you had been given a love bite by an alien slug). I dropped an inch instantly, lost the bloating, and can look forward to more fat-cell death over the next three weeks. Obviously, if you eat badly, the fat won’t stay away forever – our fat cells are very good at expanding in size, and quickly. This treatment is an adjunct to whatever else you’re doing, rather than a substitute, but a really good boost, nonetheless.
One week before: devised by a private members gym in Chelsea and tested on 22 of its glossy, good-looking clients, the “KX 7-day Total Body Detox” plan is a food-delivery service available in London. So far all of the glamorous guinea pigs have lost an average of two to three kilos of weight in a week, and three per cent of their body fat.
What I like about the programme is the passion that’s gone in to putting it together, evident in conversations I had with the three men behind it – nutritionist Glen Matten, head chef Alessandro Verdenelli and fitness manager Gideon Remfry – who all clearly love food, and eating.
The plan is based on combining the right amount of calorie restriction and fasting with a diet that is rich in phyto-nutrients, and with just enough exercise of the right sort. You’re measured with calipers, scales, tape measures, and then for the first three days you follow a strict menu of green juices (a base of kale, celery, apple, rocket, watercress, ginger and lovage leaves, adapted with various supplements according to the time of day), plus a soup and a supper – a delicious tofu stir-fry that filled a whole dinner plate was last night’s offering – all of which are sent to your home or office each day. Combine it with a special exercise routine to boost the detox process – 10 minutes on the exercise bike at a low level, then sit in the sauna for 10 minutes (still wearing your gym kit) and repeat it three times, keeping a bottle of water to hand to stay hydrated.
The downside is that it costs a hefty £860 for the seven days, so you might want something a little cheaper (Dr Alejandro Junger’s seven- or 21-day Clean detox costs from US$199, and consists of shakes, supplements, and cooking your own food).
One day to go: for an instant slimming effect, tanning expert James Read suggests giving your self-tan a more contoured look. After you’ve washed off the self-tan (most require 12 hours, or overnight, to develop), he advises using his Bronzing Spray Instant (£24.50) to highlight areas of the body where the sun would naturally hit, which will give a more defined appearance. As he says, “If you can’t tone it, tan it!”.
I also love Charlotte Tilbury’s new Supermodel Body (£45), which, like Spanx (a body-shaping underwear brand) in a bottle, firms and adds a gentle sheen at the same time.
Now, where’s that iPhone? Bikini selfie season, here we come.