The Dad Pad Diet

Starting weight: 14 stone 7lbs

Weight lost so far: 8lbs

Target weight: 13stone 3lbs

Did you know that women have to do about 20 per cent more exercise to get the same health benefits as men?

The findings, from a study conducted at the University of Missouri in the US, revealed that blokes have an advantage when it comes to how much effort they need to put in to lose weight.

Scientists believe that differences in muscle mass and hormones might be the reason for this discrepancy.

So shedding a mere one and a half stone should be easy for a 42-year-old father of two, right? Wrong!

Since my bid to shed my dad pad which began in January I have lost just 8lbs. Not bad. But at this rate it may be time to start buying in the Christmas mince pies again by the time I reach my target.

Given that I'm still 10lbs over my recommended weight, with those love handles still clearly visible, it's unlikely that I'm going to be flaunting a Brad Pitt style body on the beach this summer.

I'm not alone in having put on the lbs since becoming a dad five years ago. A recent survey found that six out of 10 fathers are overweight and unfit, putting themselves at increased risk of heart disease.

In the early weeks of my 'diet' making simple changes to my diet, like cutting out fatty and sugary snacks enabled me to lose around 4lbs.

Then, a month ago, aiming to lose more, I decided to follow the trend for fast exercise. This is where you do intensive bursts of exercises lasting only a few minutes. Studies suggest they can have the same benefits as longer, slower paced workouts and save time – something most parents have precious little of.

I did try to follow a few moves from a celebrity backed DVD of intense mini-workouts along these lines. The bloke-ish embarrassment I had purchasing this product was enough to make me want to die of shame. And then I promptly did my back in trying to do perform the exercises in the living room, meaning I could barely move for days.

Afterwards, I decided to go back to basics with something more sensible - walking.

I'm making the most of those early starts familiar to parents, dropping my two year old off at nursery at 8am, then making sure I walk for an hour, before starting work at 9am.

One study found that walking was actually better at reducing the risk of heart disease than running. And simply taking more steps does seem to have helped burn off some of the flab too. My next step is to get a pedometer so I can make sure I'm taking at least 10,000 a day as the government advises.

I have fared better in my belly busting efforts when it comes to food and drink. I've been keeping a daily food diary of what I've been consuming.

One of the things that it revealed was how much bread I have been eating. Carbs like this are associated with weight gain and so I've been trying to cut down on one of my biggest weaknesses - the late night cheese sandwich.

I've also been trying a version of the 5:2 Diet – aiming for two days a week where I 'fast' – or at least only eat around 600 calories. One of my entries for a day like this reads...

Breakfast: Porridge made with water

Morning Snack: A handful of blueberries.

Lunch: Half a tin of baked beans on toast.

Dinner: Chicken stir fry with veg, without the usual noodles.

It's a hit and miss business and I don't always make it. But counting the calories alone, does make me more aware of what's in the food I'm eating and how likely I am to go over the recommended allowance of 2500 calories a day.

But I'm worried that when it comes to whittling away more of my waist I may have reached something of a plateau.

A US researcher, Dr Kevin Hall, has found that it does indeed get tougher to lose weight the closer we get to our targets.

So the bad news is that I'm going to have to work even harder to lose what remains of my dad pad.

It's time for drastic action. I was hoping that this wasn't going to have to be necessary. But there's no use putting it off any longer. Alcoholic drinks are stuffed with calories. So I am going to cut out the booze, completely, for a month.

The very idea is enough to drive me to drink...