Five weeks ago, I picked up a diet book that promised to make me skinnier than all my friends. The style of Six Weeks to OMG was irritating but the advice within it – reducing carbohydrate intake, several periods of gentle exercise throughout the day – were really common sense for people who, like me, are carrying a few spare pounds of body fat and would prefer not to be.
Common sense, however, I had. It's not as if I didn't know that eating less/moving more would make me a neat size 12 rather than a ceaseless waistband-adjuster. What really attracted me to the OMG diet were the gimmicks: its promise that black coffee, skipping breakfast, cold baths and avoiding fructose would magic me not just slim but "skinny".
In the time I've been following the diet, I've lost 2kg, or about 4lb. That seems fair to me considering how much I've cheated. But in the meantime something has happened to all my friends. Venice A Fulton's OMG book has not, as suggested by the quotes on the front, gained the status of "the new Dukan diet". Instead of being tried out and talked about everywhere from the watercooler to the Palace (Carole Middleton was said to have "done" Dukan in the run-up to the royal wedding), Six Weeks to OMG still elicits blank looks when I explain to friends why I can't drink with them. (Oh, OK. Go on then. Just the one...)
This is not because its ads were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, which worried that they were targeting vulnerable young women, the publishers say their campaign had finished anyway. It's because the real new fad diet involves skipping not just breakfast but all food, a couple of days a week.
It's galling to say the least, getting into an increasingly cold bath each day, knowing that I've backed the wrong horse. I'm jealous of the simplicity of what the fasters have to do – either eat normally, or have very restricted calories if they're fasting – and get fed up of the fussiness of having to eat three meals at slightly odd times. I'm not jealous that my fasting friends are skinnier than me, but they are.
I suspect however that Venice would probably point out that there is crossover between his theory and the fasting idea. He urges OMG-ers to eat their evening meals at least three hours before bed to harness the growth hormones that don't work if you're full, the same hormones that many fasters claim extend their lives. Then he leaves out breakfast to create a conveniently timed fast of about 15 or 16 hours each day. The clever fasters operate in a similar way, working from lunchtime one day to lunchtime the next, thus sleeping through the longest part of their fast.
At this point, though, I have started to hate Venice. I'm just so bored of his diet, not to mention his "coffee: yay! soda: boo!" rhetoric. And whatever has happened to my body, I don't think even the most text-addicted teenager would describe it as "OMG".
Yet it hasn't just been a fad for me. I will take certain things to heart: eating fewer carbs in general, taking long walks rather than short runs, black coffee rather than lattes (what can I say, I've got a taste for it). If you can't face fasting – and it's really not a Size 13 idea, this whole going without food thing – it might be a good halfway house. Just don't be disappointed if you can't sustain all the different requirements, and all your friends end up skinnier than you.
One week to OMG