Chris Grayling

                                                                                  Six Pack At Sixty- Nine (Originally Sixty-Six!)

Anyone who’s known me for most of my life would (I hope) describe me as ‘fit’. Not, I hasten to add, in the sexually attractive sense of the word, but rather as a way of describing my athletic prowess and appearance. I’ve always been slim as well as being a regular runner and gym goer. Even in my early sixties I was enviably in shape, despite the wine I drank with most meals and a long-standing shortbread addiction. And now I’m not a smoker any longer either, which is something I should be proud of I suppose: if you choose to ignore the idiocy that was required for me to take it up in the first place. But have I to confess – I’ve never had a six-pack. 

I suppose that it would have been relatively easy to gain this holy grail of physical endowment when I was a young man. I played a lot of sport and was at least a stone lighter than I was as I started the seventh decade of life. I’ve no idea what my body fat percentage was in my teens and twenties, but it must have been low. Working as a teacher and having kids must have also helped. 

But, by the time I was into my forties I figured it was too late: I’d look longingly at the mid-sections of fitness models and, when I joined the gym at Edenbridge, and the PT showed me his six-pack I thought ‘No fucking way.’ He informed me it was 90% down to his diet and that put the tin lid on it for me - there was no way I was giving up biscuits and cakes just for a muscular stomach. Like most of us, I only went to the gym so that I could carry on abusing my body and still look fit. 

Before the idea (Theresa might call it an obsession) of getting a six-pack came to me a few years ago I think I need to fill you in on some of my weight measurements from throughout my life. When I was in my teens, for example, I remember my weight being 68 kg; in my twenties and thirties it had mysteriously jumped up to 73 kg, and a few years ago I was tipping the scales at a bout 78 kg. I’ve no idea how adding the 10 kg happened, but I wasn’t much worried – it was nice not being ‘skinny’ and I had no intention of going back. We’ve probably all known some aging idiot who, because of a fear of a heart attack or similar, has lost weight and in the process turned himself into a nine-stone-weakling. That wasn’t for me.         

And then, when I was sixty-six, I had an idea for a book ‘Six-Pack at Sixty-Six’. There were caveats of course – chief among which was not turning myself into the skeletal chap I’ve described above. I asked myself, ‘How hard could it be?’ After all, I’m the man with the iron will so if anyone can do it then I could. 

And so, it began. The book is a record of how I tried to reach my target. On the face of it it seems simple enough, but it proved otherwise. I even had to change the title…

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