Elle Magazine - I am Madem-ois-Elle

"I'M LYING FACE D0WN in a puddle, art motivate me lo move faster. Not a chance, pal. I feel murderous. My face is smothered in sadistically sharp sand, a barnacle just scratched my right nipple. 'Don't let me die like this,’ I whisper lo a passing seagull. I've lost the plot. I mean, I must have - I paid for this shit!

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Arms flabby from not enough exercise, 'The Thickening' has begun. If you're under 35 and your hormones are hopefully still behaving themselves, you might ask: what's that? The Thickening is the widening of the waist, arms, bum and tum, which happens when hormones begin to wreak havoc on our bodies as we edge towards 40, 50 and beyond.

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Back in the old days, all I had to do to lose a few pounds was give up pints and go dancing. Boom! Half a stone gone, as if by magic. These days, I have to go on one of those irradiation diets: no rice, no bread, no sugar, no wine, no fun - no thanks. 'There has to be a quicker way to fight The Thickening,' I think to myself at dinner, unable to talk on account of being asphyxiated by Spanx.

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There is another way, and it's called a seven day boot camp. I dare you, if you think you're hard enough. A week in Scotland on a restrictive diet, doing 10 hours of exercise each day with 20 women you've never met before. What could possibly go wrong I think, as I throw my heavy luggage into the back of a large white van at Dumfries train station? The train from London to Carlisle felt like a treat - no kids, yay! - but as we snake up the driveway through the picturesque gardens of the impressive-looking house that is to be our home for the next seven nights, I brick it. What have I done?

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First up, pep talks on weight loss, the gist of which is: if you're daft enough to bring contraband into The Camp, don't expect to lose weight. I am hungry (but not starving like I am the day after I've had too much wine), blood-sugar levels are kept steady by regular fuel in the form of teeny snacks. In the middle of the week, just as you think you're about to lose your mind from the detox and heavy exercise, you get to order a cappuccino at a bar that doubles up as a zip-wire base. See what they did there? It must be the caffeine high, because why else would I zip wire down an enormous fucking mountain? I hate heights and now have to swim across a muddy river and build a fire from scratch? Just call me Huckleberry Finn. Seriously, who am I?

Oh, I could go on and on about the small amounts of food and the hideous sit-ups after dinner (thanks, guys). Instead, I'll leave you with this, when, on day seven, you discover your upper arms no longer jiggle, your stomach is flatter and you've lost a dress size, You will feel ready for anything. Ready for anything? Yes, anything... Weddings, divorces, big birthdays, pre-baby clothes or even IVF treatment. Sound familiar? I crawled cry-laughing through a puddle with half a beach up my bum with a woman just like you."

Stacey Duguid, Elle Magazine Dec 2017

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