IF ANYBODY wrote a book called Successful New Year’s Resolutions, it would be a very slim volume indeed. This thought occurred to me when some friends came over for coffee. Every single one of them was slimming, especially the one who brought a Tupperware box full of cake with her: “Because I’m on the 4:3 diet and I mustn’t have it in the house.”
I had eaten half the cake before I got around to asking what the 4:3 diet is (apparently, you fast for four days every week and eat what you like the other three. Luckily for me, it was Day 4). But although I did her a favour by clearing out her Tupperware, they all hate me now because, through mouthfuls of cake, I told them: “You may as well eat what you like because all your diets are going to fail. They always do, because New Year is a rubbish time to make resolutions.”
I’m right, though, aren’t I? I know I’m right because tomorrow has been officially dubbed “Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day”. This is due to the sobering fact that 17 January is traditionally as far as most people get before they totally cave in and eat a whole Tupperware box full of cake.
Let’s face it, even if you get past the Fateful 17th, how long are you going to keep going with a decision that was made simply because the calendar changed?
If you didn’t want to do what you’re doing enough to do it on 31 December – or indeed, any of the preceding 364 days – what sort of January magic are you expecting to help you do it now?
In the northern hemisphere, there is no worse time of year to turn over a new leaf, especially as that new leaf almost always includes healthier eating and exercise.
First of all, you just spent the whole of December stuffing yourself with highly calorific food and drink, so you’re going from one extreme to the other – never an easy task.
Then there’s the weather. January is a dark, dank, miserable month, but instead of cheering ourselves up by staying cosy and happily maintaining the winter weight that our ancestors prized for keeping them alive, we make ourselves even more depressed.
We try to exist on meagre crispbreads and out-of-season salads, and punish ourselves by running around outside in the freezing cold. It’s not just illogical, it’s madness.
But it gets worse. Imagine if you actually manage to get past 17 January. Imagine if you deny yourself every possible pleasure until February or March. What happens then? Easter, that’s what; the greatest chocolate holiday of them all.
Right now, you can deprive and scourge yourself all you like, but it will avail you nothing. Come Easter, your willpower will falter and you will succumb to the siren call of the Dairy Milk mega-egg. A couple of those – because you won’t be able to stop at one – and your dream of a beach-ready body will be just as far away as it is today. So, what’s the point? Why not be gentle with yourself until then?
There’s nothing wrong with changing your habits, but timing is everything. You’ll be so much happier if you allow yourself to capitulate whenever you’re faced with suet, and then thoroughly enjoy whatever the Easter Bunny brings.
After that, when spring is in the air, you can take stock of your bloated bulk, and think: “Yes! I’m disgusting! But look, there’s yummy, fresh, seasonal fruit and veg in the shops and the sun is shining. You know what? I actually want to go for a jog!”
If you really must change something now, make it a small, harmless something that won’t matter if it falls by the wayside, and don’t beat yourself up about it when it does.
Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day shows us that there’s very little point in being resolute in January. In the harsh depths of winter, we need something easy and soothing to replace those draconian New Year’s resolutions. New Year’s slight inclinations, perhaps?
Go on, give yourself permission to give up. You know I only have your best interests at heart, because after all, it means less cake for me.