MADAME GUILLOTINE: On health and wellbeing. And monkey nuts.

I'm on a diet and it's driving me mad - but a little bit of help has gone a long way.

by Avril Millar
Last Updated: 17 Sep 2013

Well, it’s been a challenging fortnight. Quite why I hadn’t anticipated that is beyond me. Still, it’s nice to know I can still surprise myself I guess.

The challenges have fallen into two areas: people and – of all things – food.

Let’s start with food, if only because it is in the last few days that I realised what an impact this was having. I am on a diet.

Along with, apparently, over 60% of the female population. I am on a diet for many reasons but there’s no point in kidding myself – or you – that it is not actually mainly vanity. I have this notion, which may be proved wrong, that my little book might get some measure of success in attracting attention. Which may lead to an interview somewhere obscure. Which may in turn lead to a photograph of me taken in a way that I can’t control – as in not gently back-lit and taken by a photographer both skilled in photoshop and standing on a chair to get my most flattering angle.

So there was nothing else for it. Fat had to go. And, given that I had left this rather late in the day, it had to go fast. So I am on a  medically supervised, ridiculously strict diet which started relatively easy in that my body is sufficiently used to sporadic attempts at cutting back to be sufficiently nonplussed at this latest one as to assume that it would end pretty sharpish like all the rest.

But no. I persevered, and it has got harder to the point of torture.  And as I got lighter, my temper rose and rose until even I thought I was being unreasonable. I have lost my patience with anyone and everyone and everything. My cat all but left home after I shouted so loudly at my iphone for having poor reception that the neighbours came to ask if everything was all right.

And the cause (apart from wanting to eat my own arm)? Potassium deficiency. So, the upside of a medically supervised diet is that at least you get to find out why it’s horrendous.

So they supplemented me on more soluble potassium and my temper returned to its normal general grumpiness to the relief of all concerned. I’m still hungry though.

BUT, it brought home in an admittedly brutal way just how important our health is to general performance and mental well-being. So, at the risk of preaching, I would like to suggest that you get your mineral and blood levels checked and that you look at what you eat so that you fuel yourself properly. A few weeks of stress and scrappy eating and for all you know your critical faculties will be letting you down.

I’ll finish on people. For a whole host of reasons I have in the last fortnight been exposed to the most extraordinary generosity and kindness of people. People have volunteered help to promote, sell, market my book with absolutely no benefit to themselves. They have given of contacts, time and talent without my even asking. I am humbled and grateful beyond words.

And it threw into sharp relief those few people who do not find it easy – or sometimes even possible – to help others selflessly. Which reminded me of a story. How do you catch a monkey in the jungle?

You put a bell jar  partially filled with peanuts at on the jungle floor. The monkey finds the jar, spies the nuts, puts his hand in through the narrow top and grabs some. When he tries to pull his hand out, the fist holding the nuts is now too wide to pull out. So he has a choice; hold onto the nuts and stay there (and probably be captured or die)  or let go of his prize and get away. And they stay. Unable to let go of what they have, they sacrifice their greatest prize of all.

Just a thought.

There is enough of everything for everyone - even food.

- Avril is a public speaker, writer, business advisor and more recently author of the book, The Kama Sutra of Work: Why work is the new sex and how to make sure you're getting enough.

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