Emma Bartley’s ongoing struggle to fit into her jeans. This week: is it seriously possible to flatten your stomach by blowing up balloons without dying of humiliation?
Can't believe I am already writing four weeks to OMG – just one month to go until I am skinnier than all my friends! Of course, the reason time has flown is because I haven't really been doing the diet properly.
To recap, I take a cold bath every morning, drink black coffee instead of breakfast, and then try to move around for at least half an hour. Food-wise we are trying to get down to no more than 120g of carbs a day, as this is the key to the diet – but it's also the hardest to achieve and I'm probably managing it one in every three days. So if I am skinnier than all my friends in four weeks, that's only because my skinniest friend is five months pregnant.
This week, I thought we'd focus on exercise, because despite his "back away from the yams, girls!" writing style Venice A. Fulton is not really a Hollywood gossip columnist but actually a bloke called Paul from North London who does a bit of personal training. So while I cringed as the press release trumpeted "14 pages of citations" backing up the book's claims about fruit and liquid carbs, one thing I do trust Venice on is training.
Most surprisingly, the OMG approach to exercise is not simply "kill yourself on the treadmill three to four times a week". Perhaps from pushing people to do just this, Venice has realised that most of us don't enjoy intensive exercise, and so it's not terribly sustainable. Instead, he's pushing increased activity. Movement of any kind requires energy, so if you go for a long walk you are likely to burn more calories than if you went for a short run.
So after the bath and the coffee, but before you've had any food, OMG-ers are supposed to make time for a period of movement, or pom. Because you haven't had breakfast and the "tank" is empty, your body will burn fat to do this, says Venice.
Ideally, the movement should use lots of muscles (walking, running, rowing, swimming) rather than just a few (skipping, stomach crunches) – but I do cycling (somewhere in between the two) because that's how I like to get to work.
The other periods of movement should be before you eat, a process Venice calls hunt and wait. If you move for 15-30 minutes before a meal (say, walking to buy your lunch), insulin will help your muscles to store the calories you consume, rather than storing them as fat. Supposedly if you wait for another 15-30 minutes this boosts some kind of enzyme that helps that process along, but I'm not going to lie: I am not good at waiting when I haven't eaten for maybe 16 hours and there is food in front of me.
There is some conventional exercise recommended: doing weights, to maintain muscle. Unusually, OMG recommends doing very few reps of heavy weights, just three times a month. Once every ten days, you hit the gym and do no more than 10 reps of different exercises at the maximum weight you can manage for each one - ideally with a personal trainer.
That's the minimum, and if you want to add circuits, Pilates, yoga or other exercise classes into the mix, go for your life. But I've been short of time lately so have replaced my usual twice-weekly spinning classes with weekly weights sessions.
What I haven't been able to work up to, so far, is blowing up balloons. "If a super-flat tummy appeals to you, spend some time doing this," says Venice, who explains that the transversus muscle in the stomach is the one that keeps a stomach flat. Standing up in loose clothing, dedicated OMG-ers blow up their balloons 10-20 times every night before bed for the first week, then 40 times (in two sessions, three minutes apart) every other night after that.
In two weeks, I've done this once transversus muscle because it was my husband's birthday, and I actually had some balloons to blow up. He was 36 and not 6, so getting balloons for him was a huge concession to Venice. Even in the privacy of my own home, I feel totally stupid doing this. But it is part of the plan, and I am supposed to be testing it out on your behalf, so I'm going to make this week my warm-up week, then report back with three weeks to OMG. If I get a flatter tummy at the end of it, there really will be cause to get the balloons out.
Four weeks to OMG