[Delwar Hossain / Iconfinder]

I am trying to buy myself a dress on the net, which should be easy – millions of people do it – but I can’t find my waistline, let alone measure it. It says on the site that I should measure myself at the narrowest point. I feel like one of those people screaming on the u-tube that they’ve been discriminated against. What do you mean the narrowest point? Suppose there is no narrow point?

But there are good news connected with this bit of misfortune: I have now taken to exercising. After years of trying different kinds of exercises I know what not to do. Never do sit-ups. It’s ok for those of us who have highly functional abdominals. For those who don’t it is frustrating and leads to back pain. The thing to do is to lift weights. Small weights.

Pull in your tummy while lifting the weights. Or pull in your tummy while lifting your physio ball. The physio ball is a large inflated plastic ball. Even sitting on it while pulling in your tummy can lead to excellent results. Really. The only problem I can think of connected with the physio ball is its size. It’s too big to stick in the closet, it’s even too big to stick in the bathroom. It doesn’t go through the bathroom door, unfortunately. So what we do is let it lie around in the living room.

The ball rolls to a spot it prefers and lies there until one of my son’s friends comes along and tries to break his skull by jumping on top of the ball as if it was a mattress. The ball responds by moving slightly to the left or the right and the boy is left lying in a heap on the carpet.

But, going back to the exercises recommended when trying to fit into a dress ordered online. I do recommend doing ‘the plank’ as well as push-ups. Oh, and also this exercise I’ve found in Jane Fonda’s exercise book, which requires standing on one’s hands and knees and then lifting one knee, taking it closer to the abdomen and then all the way back. It makes me feel Jane Fondaish, I can’t explain.

The good thing about returning to some kind of exercise routine is that I am now aware of my tummy muscles. Having used them, even a little bit, they now speak out and demand more of the same. After initiating these exercise sessions it is easier to continue with them than I had thought.

Women used to have it easier way back in the time of the girdle. A girdle is a constant reminder of one’s middle part. You can’t not remember it. Wearing a girdle you would be negotiating with yourself constantly: “I think if I pull my tummy in even more there would probably be room for one more bite of this glorious lemon pie. On the other hand, better not. I might suffocate.”

A well known tactic would have been pretending to faint in order to be allowed to go to one’s room and release oneself from the girdle. But there is no real release from the girdle, you see. The girdle is still with us, I still have to fit into a size that has a reasonable number of Xs if I am to buy anything remotely pretty. It’s a virtual girdle, that’s what it is!