The Christmas tree has been taken down and mulled wine has been replaced with Pinot Grigio (no dry Jan for me) as the Mondayest of all months is upon us: January.
I feel like there are two types of people: those who love the beginning of a new year, Monday mornings and any opportunity for a fresh start, and then there is the rest of us. The former are full of energy and are already implementing their new year resolutions. The rest of us feel we must do the same out of fear that if we don’t make the first week of January full of productivity and success, the year will be doomed for failure.
In reality, this is ridiculous. The concept of a year or a week was created by humans as a way to measure time. But we seem to think this time frame somehow correlates to success. The first day of January is literally the day after 31st December but the ritual of New Year’s Eve celebrations makes it feel monumental, as though big changes are afoot. But really, it is no different than going from 15th to 16th of the month (aside from the hangover).
Setting goals or making resolutions can be a good way to focus on the things we want to achieve. And these are called new year’s resolutions because we have the entire 365 days to try and implement them. Yet we feel the pressure from the January lovers to instantly try and achieve them, as they set their alarms for a 6am morning workout as soon as the new year begins.
The gyms are at their fullest in the first week of January, but come mid February, many have swapped their gym gear for cosy pjs and a G&T. I’m all for living a healthier lifestyle, but why does this have to be taken to such extremes and be the focus of attention in January.
In the summer, I tend to drink more water and crave more fresh fruit and veg, which also tastes a lot better as they are in season. In the winter I want cosy casseroles and cheesy pasta (okay, I always want anything which has cheese on it) to keep me warm. What I don’t think is healthy is depriving yourself of any carbs for the first five days of the year and then eating a pizza and feeling racked with guilt. It’s cold. You are on episode 8 of YOU. Deliveroo is clearly a more sensible option than leaving your house in the rain to buy food to cook. Duh.
This whole January diet culture relies on the idea that your body is in turmoil after eating 492924 calories a day for the entire 31 days of December, and your blood is 50% Baileys and 50% hot chocolate. And while the latter may have some truth in it, I don’t think we need to punish ourselves for a few extra treats. My diet from 25th-28th may not have been the best, but I don’t believe I massively over-indulged for the whole of December. It’s different for everyone, but one extreme to the next doesn’t seem like the most healthy or sustainable option.
In terms of other resolutions or goals, there is no rule which says you have to begin them on 2nd January (because we all know that New Year’s Day is for a hungover Dominos and Netflix session). In October last year, I had a sudden surge of motivation. I am one of those people who works better under pressure; the feeling of it’s now or never motivates me. My history A Level essays were written the weekend before they were due in, not because I got hooked on Grey’s Anatomy (well not entirely, anyway), but when I had a shorter time frame, I had complete focus to sit down at my laptop and bash out 10,000 words. (Actually it was probably more like 13,000 as I’ve always had too much to say, but I’d do it in a small font in the hope the examiners wouldn’t notice that I was way over the word count.)
Those of us who aren’t full of motivation at 9am on a Monday morning but are at 4pm on a Thursday shouldn’t feel the pressure to start everything in January. And I guarantee that some people who did start as soon as 2019 kicked off, will have given up before April. We are all different and we don’t have to conform to a huge lifestyle change at the start of the year to ensure success.
To all of you who live for the start of the year, I hope you are in your element and make the most of this time. And as for the rest of us, live in the moment and don’t be too hard on yourself. It is only January after all. There are still 11 months to be the best you can be. And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.