First proper day of the new year. You’re off the sofa, the hangover is gone and you’re determined to make you a better you this year.
I see you. First day back in work, leftovers from Christmas/New Year fighting for space in the fridge alongside all the kale, yoghurt and blueberries you could pack in there.
You’ve spent a week or so sitting on your arse eating and drinking all the delicious things, without a hint of green, save the sprouts you left on your plate. Or if you’re in hospitality or retail, working your guts out with barely enough energy to function for the festive period, coming home to whatever you can be arsed eating, and crawling into bed. And now you have plans for carb free breakfasts, smoothies, and hitting the gym hard.
You feel guilty. You feel heavy. Sluggish. Tired. You need your energy back.
Some of you will be ready to read this now.
For others of you, give it a week or so, bookmark it, and come back.
Because if you are going hard and heavy, in the whole goal making, planning, 1100 calories a day, five hour long workouts a week, you are almost certainly setting yourself up to fail.
By Friday, you’re already feeling the tired of being back at work to the normal routine, to denying yourself enough food to function, and dreaming of pizza and wine because Bev in accounts is doing your head in already.
Or maybe you’ll manage another week, what with all the diet led emails appearing in your inbox, all the Weight Watchers and Slimming World adverts on your telly, and all the PTs promising you happiness after you lose the weight that you feel you need to lose.
They’re designed to make you feel bad. They’re designed to make you feel like you’re just not good enough, you must have that six pack, be able to run 16 miles a day, and look like a supermodel in your bikini come June.
Maybe you’ll make it. Maybe you will go on a diet, lose all the weight you feel guilty for having, because the people on the telly tell you that being skinny and pretty is everything, and it might be everything you dream of.
But it’s OK if you don’t. It really really is.
It’s OK if you fail after two days on some crash diet juice plan, that you’re actually designed to fail at some point, because they’ll then be able to sell you more.
It’s OK if you go to the gym twice, and then don’t ever go again, even though you’ll tell yourself you will, and you’ll keep paying for it, well, because. How else do you think gyms keep membership so cheap?
If you do anything this year, I want to help you be just a little kinder to yourself. Just a teeny tiny bit.
I used to be that person. Promises to go on a diet, designed to fail, actually fail, go back to being me. So I cut out the middle man. I stopped the whole diet bit. I listened to my body – turns out, my body loves exercise. But if it didn’t, well then, no problem. Because it’s actually OK to be you. To just exist. To just seek happiness in other things rather than looking like everyone else’s idea of perfect.
But I get it.
You’ve had a pretty lazy Christmas break. You’ve not done much, your usual gym classes haven’t been on, you’ve not even walked to the bus stop to head to work and the most energetic thing you’ve done was take a chocolate from the tub to your face. So maybe you put a couple of pounds on. Maybe. Once you get back into your normal routine, normal food, normal walk to the bus stop, normal gym class, guess what? That weight will go again. Maybe you’ve missed salads and stir fries and yes, vegetables. Simple, put them back into your diet. No need to down gallons of green gak. Add a smoothie if you fancy it. If you’re craving it, chances are your body is missing them and it will not hurt one bit to have one a day or something.
Eat an apple. Dance in your kitchen. Try a new class.
If you do want to hit the gym more often, or for the first time, again, take it easy on yourself. If you’ve had a couple of weeks off, your body is going to feel that first session. If you’ve never done it before, or are trying a new gym, a new place can feel daunting, especially if you’re like me, and spend a lot of time in the weights section. Gyms can be full of bench boys taking up space, but your workout, your time and space is just as important as theirs.
So if it’s intimidating, seek friends. Seek people like you. Find a friend who lives near you and go with them. Hell, if you live near me and want to come with me, let me know. My resting bitch face is the reason why nobody bothers me. Most gyms will have a Facebook page, so you can ask on there (gyms, here’s a hint, get a gym buddy system set up for newbies), if you run or want to, find a group – there are lots on Facebook – (Run Mummy Run is still one of the best, whether you’re a mum or not) people you can talk to who understand, who get it.
And if you do fuck up, if you do stop, if you don’t find what you want to do, then that’s fine. It’s OK. Some people love it, others don’t. Maybe whatever it is, just isn’t for you.
Goal setting, whether personal, professional, or physical, can be fantastic. They can give you focus, something to aim for. It’s something I do regularly, because it drives me. It doesn’t drive everyone.
If you do set goals, make them ambitious, but realistic. Going from zero to marathon runner in six months is doable (I probably wouldn’t recommend it), but only you know if it’s achievable for you. Set smaller goals. Maybe a 5km run in three months, then a 10km run in six months?
If you want to lose weight, great. Work out what you’re consuming now, and take it down a notch, or increase your activity. Don’t halve your calories and expect to hit the gym six times a week and not fall over.
Find other goals. Tired of the job? Baby steps. Get the CV redone, get the feelers out for something new. Maybe while you’re searching, find a course or two to do. Something to focus your mind and give you an extra to add to that CV.
Want to travel? Plan, save, book.
If you don’t? Then just be you. You’re pretty awesome.No really, you are. Just ask anyone who loves you.
New year, new you?
Nah. I’ll stick with being me, ta.