Your resolutions are not only boring, they’re unhealthy for us all

January 9th, 2014 by

We get it. Your self control is wonderful. Whilst the rest of us drag our turkey legs (these are our actual legs now) across kitchen floor, pine needles piercing cornea as we reach for the 3 for 1 bottles of wine, the rest of you have achieved triathlons in your lunch break simultaneously catching up on work emails. Bravo, you’re the best.

Also, thank you for duct taping your shoes to your iPod, or however you achieve that CONSTANT online update of the miles you ran singing Who Runs The World. If you could just instagram your body or muscles in tank top every five seconds to show us how ‘dedicated’ to January you are, that would be great. Tell me more about yoga this week, no, seriously.

Even my regular fast food outlets have emailed to suggest I swap the burgers for the salads. Newspapers share their space equally between political disasters and diet features. Facebook’s sponsored stories show us weight loss techniques as frequently as I see photos of your babies taking shits.

England’s relationship with food is an unhealthy one. Not because we spent two weeks eating and drinking with our families and loved ones, but because we feel a purging guilt and shame as soon as we’ve done it. No one really puts on weight over Christmas, not if we’re truly honest with ourselves. No one was shredding open gifts with jaws and eating those too. No one ever celebrated the festive period and then couldn’t actually, really, put their clothes back on after. For those of us fortunate enough to have loved ones that we spent joyous time with, we ate and we drank because (Mediterranean alert:) food and drink are native to love. So please, tell your vanity to back the fuck up.

I’m not suggesting you’re a complete bore (I am), but the problem with new year’s resolutions and health purges is they create an unrealistic strain on your psyche as well as the self-worth of those around you. Often you have already set yourself up for fail before you’ve begun because for incentive to succeed it must be born of instinct, not tradition. We have seen it so many times; the fierce uplifting mantra that dissipates in a few weeks or days leaving a mess of “why must I fuck up every year?”

The thing about years is that none of them are “good” or “bad”. Some of the best things to have happened took place in the same few months as the worst things we’ve ever experienced. The sincerely wonderful things we’ve felt and achieved soon take a backseat to the less palatable moments as we are asked to measure up the year. “2008 was a bad year,” we say, and just as quickly the lovely moments and days we shared with friends, or recognised something valuable about who we are, have paled to this flawed evaluation system we are told to use.

If I’m honest, it’s not just about you. Your almost obsessive documentation of how much everything has to change it NEEDS TO CHANGE, CHANGE IMMEDIATELY, CHANGE may be upsetting the people around you. Loved ones didn’t stop dying, hearts didn’t stop being broken and lives didn’t stop feeling horrid because a date passed and you know someone who threw a party. Chances are many of the people you know – certainly your wider community on social networking – are still having a pretty hard time. There are many people you know who can’t find work, those who lie awake at night panicking about whether they have earned enough to pay their rent and are teetering worrying close to not having a home at all. Living expenses are high, work is low, and we still live in a world where it’s ‘lawful’ to kill a black man if you’re the police. If you know someone with depression (more people than you think) winter and the festive/post festive period is by far the bleakest time of year. The dark days will have been taking their toll for several months now. For the people who have carried their pain from the last few months into 2014 (because that’s how life works, fyi) spending more time at the gym, or swapping booze for jasmine tea won’t even come close to appearing on their list of things to give a shit about. Oh, and on top of it all you just called them fat. Go you.

It’s wonderful to have a burst of energy and embrace bettering you and your life, and if it so happens that January is that time for you then this is brilliant and good luck. But don’t force it and remember for many just getting out of bed and into the shower was as great an achievement and required more energy than it did to go on a run, or try a new eating regime of juiced water and dust.

Social networking is a great place to share your achievements and have them celebrated or acknowledged by the people you know. It is incredibly important that we can praise ourselves, recognise and share our own achievements in a world that spends so long telling us we’re not smart or hot enough. I’m all about promoting you and how fabulous you are (women in particular are told not to do this yet absolutely must) but we must be careful not to take a predefined and often harassing system of gym bodies, salads, and unreachable goals to feel this about ourselves, or intimidate others to want the same.

Women and men are pressed daily to look different, feel different, be different, furthered by the guilt and shame that we are expected to feel when we say “You know what, I’m cool looking like this, thanks.”

January sucks, it really does. And sometimes when things suck it’s nice to go to the pub and get tipsy with friends, make loads of food and watch Netflix without the judgement of status updates. Have fun getting fit if you fancy it, but don’t force yourself or the rest of us to enjoy January the same. Chances are I won’t be looking at your pro-active January obsessive brags because I have a lot of 3 for 1 bottles of wine to get through this month, and I won’t be getting any food deliveries until the burgers are back. You know what, I’m cool looking like this, thanks.