Portugese custard tarts.

Consider the Portuguese custard tart. My old nemesis. The local bakery makes a particularly fine example of this hugely fattening little bastard and it’s all I can do to avoid driving down there as soon as the doors open in the morning to inhale one with a flat white. But I don’t. Not every day anyway, because I done been cured of my wicked ways.

Time was when I’d knock back a little baked custard treat after a toasted ham and cheese croissant and another cup of java. Or maybe a hot buttered blueberry muffin. (The bad boys they served up at the Trop in Sydney were a particular fave). Time was when I was morbidly obese.

Now the bakery treats are a once-a-week indulgence, and even then they have to be paid for with some brutal cardio and weight training. Not just them of course, but the couple of wines I do enjoy of an evening, and the carbs, oh god the lovely, lovely carbs …

Because I don’t diet. I can’t.

Simple as that, I can’t stick to the things. I tried once with the CSIRO diet, back when I was a somewhat bigger unit, thinking it might make me all thinky as well as fit, but it pretty much just made me miserable. As dieting, real dieting as opposed to simple portion control or just not eating ton's o' crap, seems to for everyone.

That’s why I carve out a couple of hours a day about four days a week to hit the gym or run the hill where I live, or even ride the bike (yes, I have one) down to the local pool. For me the pain and inconvenience of an hour or two’s exercise has always been infinitely preferable to the 24/7 misery of wishing you could eat something more than rice cakes and celery.

Better to have that wine and cheese in moderation and run it off than never to have had it in the first place.

I got to thinking about this on the weekend because I have a couple friends living in Diet Hell at the moment and they are not happy. Every meal is a trial. Every outing a torture of sorts as they wrench themselves into knots to avoid temptation.

It’s a misery and a punishment.

But some people swear by dieting. It's a huge industry, and I’m kind of curious as to why. I can’t get past the fact that it’s an always-on state. Unlike exercise which comes and goes, and which has the narcotic attraction of feeding your endorphin addiction after a while, being hungry – like, forever hungry – bites hard.

So why, my dieting friends? Why do you do this to yourself when you could just have that piece of cake anyway, after a sesh on the treadmill or cross trainer?