The problem with being a septuagenarian is that, like a high-mileage car, you have to keep going back to experts for check-ups.

This week I have to face the heart specialist for a routine biannual visit.

Luckily, I've managed to get through the decades with no problems in the pump department.

However, I did promise my specialist two years ago that, yes, I would exercise more, cut down on certain foods and drink less in an effort to keep my working bits in good order.


With only four days before my appointment, I thought I'd better make good on my promises.

I've also been galvanised into action by a fellow hack who recently failed the specialist's treadmill test.

"One minute, I thought I was fit and well, the next thing I knew I was being rushed into hospital and having major surgery to clear my arteries," he said. "Now I'm stuffed full of plastic tubes and have had to give up butter, cheese and alcohol."

"So ..." I whispered pensively, thinking about my own fondness for these items, "what is there to live for?"

My friend replaced butter with an oily spread, which he half-heartedly assured me tasted like the real thing.

Driven by his trauma, I decided as part of my four-day fitness programme to follow his dietary recommendations.

I've temporarily curtailed my addiction to French runny cheese, replacing the hedonistic nectar with a tasteless, low fat cottage cheese. As a dietary item, this certainly works for me - after a few cautious mouthfuls, I've abandoned it rather than keep stuffing my mouth full of something akin to shaving foam.

The butter substitute - like axle grease - is cholesterol-free. It's made up of mysterious ingredients such as Gamma Oryzanol and Beta Carotene.

I tried consuming it over two days, improving the flavour by first adding a spoonful of butter to the oil, then achieving the perfect taste by adjusting the ratio to 100 per cent butter and no oil.

This has left me with the exercise problem to deal with.

With only days to slim down before facing the dreaded treadmill, I decided to put in some intense time watching the info-commercials on television.

I'm very impressed with a gadget you kneel on and spin back and forth to lose your love handles. Watching the commercial non-stop around the clock has left me fighting fit and ready to face the music.