Happy New Year! In contrast to my ambivalence about Christmas, I really like the New Year. Not the parties and trying to remember Auld Lang Syne’s words, but the feeling of a new beginning, a new beginning. 2020 was a dumpster fire of a year as our American friends would say, and I imagine most of us are happy to see the back.
This is the time of year when newspaper inserts advise us how to get in shape and be the best that you can be! The bestseller lists are filled with the latest celebrity diet and lifestyle books. Lidl’s aisle is full of exercise machines and juicers.
The problem with all of this, of course, is that very little of it works. You start out with big intentions to ban alcohol and junk food. You could sign up for a gym or buy exercise equipment like the guy I saw at Lidl yesterday struggling to get a £ 200 rowing machine in his cart. Everything is fine for a couple of weeks, but then you bump into the wall. Your bubble buddy invites you over for a drink and cake to party and you think, damn it, I deserve a reward. Or you withdraw from rowing too much and the rowing machine becomes a gem in your bedroom. The guilt and shame then kick in and you feel so self-loathing that you hit the bottle or junk food harder than ever.
A well-known person has a habit of posting unflattering photos of themselves on Twitter. You do this with the knowledge that it will create a stream of abuse from the social media mob. To be so full of self-loathing, I really fear for their sanity. Social media can have its good points, but it’s extremely toxic to people with problems. If you have any self-esteem or body problems, social media will make your problems ten times worse. Instagram has the dubious honor of being the platform that destroys mental health the most. If you’re a fat, blotchy teen at rain-soaked Cullybackey, viewing photos of beautiful teenagers with perfect skin and white teeth in sun-drenched California, it won’t do much for your self-esteem. You used to only compare yourself to other people in your class or school, now you can compare yourself to the world and it is not surprising that so many of us fall short.
I suggest you take an alternative route – aim for the average. Your goal should be: good enough. If you drink 10 glasses of wine a week you can get by with 7. Do you have 2 cookies with your tea? Just try one. Don’t want to register for the Belfast Marathon? No problem, just walk around your local park or forest for half an hour once a day.
The truth is that with small habit changes, you can make big changes in your life. There is a whole book on the subject. The key is to make changes that are sustainable over the long term. Do not try to lose 2 stones in the next month. You will fail and crap will fall. Instead, be realistic and try to lose 2 stones by the summer. Better yet, have no goals at all. Just try to eat better and exercise a little more and you will find that weight loss is a happy by-product.
The most important thing is to be kind to yourself. Singer Damien Dempsey has a great quote that sums it up:
Don’t get ready, there are enough fuckers out there that will do this for you.
Life is hard. The last year has been a complete head wreck for most of us. Do not strive for perfection, only strive for satisfaction. Success in life means looking in the mirror every morning and being okay when the face looks back.
Your mother was right, you can only do your best. If something goes wrong, do what I do. Tell Alexa to play Irene Cara Flash Dance and dance in the kitchen for 5 minutes – I promise you will feel a lot better.
From all of us at Slugger, we wish you an average of 2021. Now all together: “What a feeling. Bein believes. I can have it all, now I’m dancing for my life! “
“Happy New Year 2021” from Roan ℉ ✿urie [on and off] is licensed under CC BY-SA
I help keep the good ship Slugger afloat by running the business and technical matters.