Men are now just as paranoid about their weight as women (about time too, you might think). Christopher Taylor (role model Johnny Depp) tells how he OD'd on men's magazines, got the dieting bug and nearly split up with his girlfriend
It began insignificantly enough. A jest from a work colleague about the size of my arse. Ha and ha. But the seed was sown. I started noticing the Adonii that lived in the pages of the men's style mags I got - chaps like Jonny Depp and Keanu Reeves. I began mirror-related arse examinations, and my girlfriend caught me more than once cupping my own newly developing breasts.

Eventually, I had to admit the terrible truth: I had become lardy. Lard steals upon us like a thief in the night, or so it seems. The reality, of course, is that a fairly stressful job, lack of exercise and a lust for chocolate had meant a steady transformation from my usually sylph-like self to a gut bucket.

When I announced my diet plan to my girlfriend she laughed, but quickly realised that when two people live, love and eat together, there is no possibility of only one of them dieting.

"You're fine the way you are," she said. "I'm fat," I replied. "You're soft and cuddly," she said. But she didn't fool me and I laid it on the line: I wanted major commitment from her in support of this righteous life choice. She scowled, I scowled, we left it at that.

For the next few weeks I lived a shadowy existence. At work, it was noted sarcastically by my colleagues when I refused those mid-morning crisps, but opted instead for a quick Kiwi fruit. After work, I suffered the ignominy of plumping for a diet tonic while the boys at the bar squinted at me funny over the creamy heads of their beer.

It was when I discovered my loving partner putting real cream in a sauce that I met my own Waterloo. I'd suspected foul play for some time and found it hard to believe that the calorific content of one surprisingly tasty chocolate dessert didn't get above double figures. When I challenged her about her nefarious activities, it wasn't long before she owned up.

"I just think it's stupid that a grown man can be so fooled by advertising."

"What do you mean?"

"Nobody looks like they do in the magazines," she said. "Don't you get it? Going on a diet doesn't mean you too will get to be photographed on expansive golden beaches surrounded by the Beautiful People and all the trappings of success."

I looked at her. "And your point is...?"

"None of it is real! Real people don't look like the people in the magazines. Even the people in magazines don't look like the people in magazines; that's why they have stylists and hair designers and make-up people."

"But you can't generate a six-pack stomach with a clever photo angle and a bit of make-up," I retorted.

"No, you do that by working out five times a day with a personal trainer, just so that you can be suitably rippling for the portion of a second it takes to snap the photograph that ends up in the magazine and befuddles people like you into thinking you're not good enough."

There was a long silence as I absentmindedly fondled my stomach.

"Mmmm," I said, enigmatically.

"I love you," she said. "If you turn all vain and obsessive I don't know what I'll feel."

"But I can't fit into my trousers any more!"

"Well if you want to lose some weight, you don't need to diet, just stop eating crap and get some exercise," she said. And then she smiled. "And we can start in the bedroom."

Since that conversation I have entered into a rigorous, yet pleasing, exercise regime, with a great deal of pro-active help from my own beloved personal trainer. We are eating normally and miraculously I'm losing weight and toning up all at once. Now, with my girlfriend's help, I'm finally winning my Battle of the Bulge. And I've stopped reading those ludicrous style magazines.