THE thing about a creeping spread is it's exactly that: stealthy and gradual. It's not like you wake up one morning and overnight have suddenly gained a stone-and-a-half.

It sneaks up on you, a pound here and there. But then you do wake up one day and you are a stone-and-a-half heavier. And the dread kicks in.

The good news is that since that epiphany I have managed to shed around half a stone. But if we are thinking icebergs, that is akin to chipping away just enough cubes for a small G&T. There's a long way to go.

Last month I marked my 20 years' service with The Herald. I had a nice presentation – via a video call – with my editor and the MD, reminiscing on funny anecdotes and the myriad stories I have covered over the past two decades. It was all rather lovely.

Beforehand, I thought fondly of 23-year-old me skipping into the newspaper offices all those years ago and decided to channel that energy. I wore a smart dress for the first time in months.

Pulling on my favourite frock, though, what became apparent was this formerly floaty number now clung steadfastly to my hips and thighs. It looked like one of those bandage dresses that football WAGs wore circa 2006. Or The Incredible Hulk when he is about to burst angrily out of his clothes.

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When your erstwhile most flattering dress is straining at the seams, it is the sartorial equivalent of someone throwing a bucket of cold water in your face.

This was a Friday afternoon. On Monday morning, so began an overhaul of my lifestyle choices (I refuse to use the word "diet", but that's a whole other column).

The upshot: cutting down on junk food and trying to move more. The first three days were rough. My body screamed for its 11am KitKat and whimpered when 3pm passed with no trio of custard creams or a mug of sugary tea.

Soon, though, that voice grew quieter. Maybe it was weak from hunger. Maybe it was in a huff. Maybe it was resigned to the fact this was happening.

I'm not some evangelical health guru munching on kale and banging on about ketones. I stick to the rule of 80/20: eat well 80 per cent of the time, with the proviso that the world won't end if I gently fall off the wagon the other 20%.

So far, it seems to be working. The key is to hold myself accountable. I've dug out an old notebook and started jotting down everything I eat. It has a shiny red cover and gives me an air of Michael Aspel on This Is Your Life as I tote it around, scribbling entries.

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This is my life. One where I'm comfortable in my skin – whatever size – but far from at ease with the stark visualisation of my vital organs groaning under a blubbery layer of fat. It scares me.

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