So, back to that smoothie. Gone are the leftover breakfasts of my past. Now we make a blended drink containing almond milk, goji berries, nuts, white mulberries, chia seeds, yoghurt, muesli, fresh fruits and other things from aisles of the supermarket I never knew existed (shopping is a lot more expensive these days). We used to eat this all from a bowl; it looked like wallpaper paste mixed with tobacco. “Mix it in!” urged Sumin. “I’m doing it!” I told her. “My spoon is stuck!” We switched to the blender because we were spending an hour a morning chewing.
The blender gets a lot of use now. I seem to be forever dismantling and washing it. Sometimes for lunch we’ll have a spinach, mango, avocado and banana smoothie, always remembering to add the banana as the time we forgot it was like drinking guacamole.
Yazoo to kefir
We have a lot of fresh fruit. And greens with every meal (alarming amounts of broccoli) although I drew the line at the green powdered drink Sumin used to make me; like drinking cold algae from a pond. Only marginally worse was the Chinese medicine we tried for a bit (hot algae). I also drink a lot of yoghurt drinks; you know you’ve finally grown up when you’ve switched from Yazoo to Kefir.
We still have treats, but mostly when we eat out. We both enjoy stuffing fistfuls of poppadoms inside us over a white tablecloth now and then, and we’ll get a 99 with a flake for £2.50 when we pass Vincenzo’s ice-cream van. At home we’re more disciplined. There are Magnums in the freezer, but they’re mini ones; when I ask, “Do you think I should have one?” Sumin replies, “Up to you” – which means no.
We have chocolate, but now it’s dark. So very dark. We went up to 90 per cent cocoa last week (labelled “Supreme”), but even Sumin found this extreme. One small square in the mouth (“Let it dissolve on your tongue,” Sumin says. “It’ll feel like you’re having loads.” Hmm…) immediately sucked all the moisture from our heads.
We went down to 85 per cent (labelled “Robust”) to spoil ourselves. I think I prefer a small amount of strong chocolate to a large amount of milk chocolate now. Milk chocolate is so wishy-washy, like sickly, childish waves of latte against the refined joy of a lovely sleek espresso. This is what I tell myself.
We tend to cook together. My diet is much more varied now I’m a two-pot man. Sumin is a fabulous cook and has introduced me to Korean dishes like bulgogi and kimchi. Whenever we cook together, we can’t help but say, “We should open a restaurant serving just this dish!” but I doubt we’ll ever act on it.
Oh, and water. Have you heard of it? I hadn’t. I drink it now. I used to drink Coke. We have some Coke Zero Sugar Zero Caffeine in the fridge. “Does this even still count as Coke?” I asked sadly the first time it went in the trolley, but it tastes just the same, alarmingly. I find the fewer fizzy drinks I have the less I want them. It’s the same with everything, really: the more I eat the good stuff the less I want, or even remember, the bad stuff. I said no to Domino’s Pizza the other day (no to myself, as I was the one who suggested it) because “I’ll just feel ill after the first slice.” “Wow,” said Sumin. “That doesn’t sound like you.” No, it doesn’t, thank goodness for that. I still read the pizza menu for fun, though.
Stepping it up
And then the exercise. I now walk between 8,000 and 10,000 steps a day. “Ten thousand? Seems like nonsense,” I’d suggest. “An arbitrary figure made up by some marketing company, probably!” Surely my preferred zero steps was just as useful. I started smashing out the daily stepathon but my back didn’t like it at all, so I took myself off to a chiropractor.
“You’ll never guess what she said,” I gleefully told Sumin. “She said I’m doing too many steps! I should cut down and do some stretching instead, apparently.” “Hmm, I see,” said Sumin.
I immediately cut my steps down by half. “How’s your stretching going?” Sumin asked a week later. “Yeah, fine,” I said. She knows. “Have you done any?” “No, but I’m definitely thinking about it!” After a brief discussion I started doing 10,000 steps again, spread through the day rather than a lump sum. Now, a year on, I quite enjoy it. Our walk after dinner instead of watching telly is therapeutic. We discuss the problems of the day and why I’ve caused most of them and then we hurry back so Sumin doesn’t miss Love Island. Walking also helps me sleep.
I really struggled to sleep at all after I quit boozing. I tried everything – no phone in bed, melatonin pills, sickly damp lavender pillow mist. So Sumin booked me in for hypnosis, which had helped her in the past. I was sceptical, as I filled out all the forms. Why are these forms all so detailed now? (“What was your Year 7 maths teacher’s mother’s maiden name? How many horses have you ever seen?”) I went for a massage and they wanted my entire NHS medical file before they rubbed me.
Anyway, I lay back and was told to imagine I was floating down a river – tricky to do when you’re lying on a table in what’s very much an office – but, what do you know, it actually worked. After two sessions I could sleep through the night. No more pills.
I take vitamins now. Due to my past drinking, I have a dodgy pancreas. I don’t absorb nutrients as well as I should, so Sumin gives me a lot of supplements. My bedside table has a tattered copy of an Adrian Mole book and a glass of water from last week on it; Sumin’s looks like she’s running a pharmacy.