The pain of broken resolutions and how I fixed it.

Despite the pain of last year’s memories, I dutifully made new year’s resolutions. I gave it some thought over a reheated turkey dinner, and was ready for the turn of a new decade armed with two new resolutions to kick it off.

Fast forwards a few weeks. It’s January 27th and I’m already questioning why I bothered, so you can guess how well they have gone.

I understand that, in theory, the dawn of a new year is the perfect time to shed some old habits and start afresh. Except, we don’t really feel that fresh, do we? It’s a month when we have accumulated an extra layer of blubber over Christmas. And as we also need to wear an extra layer of clothing to keep out the chill, we end up looking and moving like a walrus, but a little more pallid. We’re not really detoxed and feeling primed for a resolute battle with temptation.

And it’s wet, cold, and dark. Ahead of us is an equally grim month, with the added annoyance of pink heart-shaped balloons making an appearance. At times when we are failing, we cannot turn our faces to the sun, and feel invigorated by its warmth on our skin.

So do it to ourselves? Why try to convince ourselves that lettuce is better than fish pie, that lycra betters heavy knits, and gym is better than gin?

Last year, I tried ‘moving more’. That worked brilliantly until I was heckled for my running style in the park, and ended up face-down-arse-up in leopard-print leggings searching for an ear pod-thingy underneath a treadmill, with people taking a wide berth, audibly sniggering and avoiding eye-contact in case I ask them to help. Looking back, I hope one or two bit their lip so hard in their attempts not to laugh-out-loud, that it bled.

This year, I thought that I had planned two, doable and measurable targets.

1. Stop eating biscuits and cookies.

I felt that giving up another vegetable was counter-productive and actually, too easy. Sweetcorn was the latest to go and I haven’t suffered a single craving, so where’s the challenge in that?

I was doing well until January 9th. I had been at a meeting all day, and had driven home to another gathering of the more social kind where you’re there voluntarily and there’s snacks. The snacks happened to be home made shortcake biscuits with actual beads of proper sugar on top. Because I was tired and thus not thinking straight, and because I was chatting distractedly, and because I’m a ‘once I pop, I can’t stop,’ kind of girl, I had eaten four and driven half-way home before the realisation of what I had done hit me. I smacked the steering wheel and cursed Maggie for not stopping me. ‘I went for a wee,’ wasn’t an excuse I felt prepared to accept. Still, I had gone 9 days and that was something to be commended. On January 10th I was back on the wagon, although I do have a cookie waiting patiently in the fridge. Watch this space.

2. Stop scrolling through social media on the toilet.

This was an initiative brought by me for me after reading an alarming stat about how much time women spend on social media and shopping on the toilet. Now, a friend of mine unashamedly does this on the bog as often as possible as she claims it’s the only time she gets sufficient peace from her parter and her children to do so. It’s her ‘me time’. But for me, it’s usually just procrastination and time wasting. I gave up scrolling before getting out of bed two years ago and it was a surprisingly effective means to greater efficiency in the mornings. While it lasted.

Anyway this lasted until January 4th. This was a happy accident however, as the first post I saw was one announcing the engagement of a friend. It was the only one I saw on that occasion as I felt the need to ring Maggie to tell her from the seat, even though I was actually out of the downstairs lav and stood next to her by the time she answered.

So it turns out that hard-lined resolutions just aren’t for me. My mind is far too full of pondered reads, legitimate opinions, lengthy to-do’s mixed and irrational fears to bother with virtuous ‘I musts’ and sinful failures. Take the incident where I ended up typing Melton Mowbray instead of Market Harborough into the sat nav last Sunday. If I’d had resolutions to worry about on top of everything else, I may not have noticed until I was circling the town centre searching for a Travellodge that wasn’t there.

On the food front, I ordered my wedding dress at a time when I ached too much to eat and so I genuinely must be mindful to only eat with caution. Nevertheless, giving up certain food groups is too hard for my weak sense of will power; and like the forbidden fruit, it perversely makes them even more desirable.

The trouble is, I like a challenge and my broken resolutions left me feeling deflated. Albeit a bit bloated sometimes.

Then, today, a eureka moment whilst listening to Radio 4 on my morning stroll with Betty and her pooh bags. I heard a quote that went something along the lines of ‘bring your whole self to every situation’. In other words, we should only modify our behaviours according to situations, not our personalities, our thoughts and our opinions. As someone who feels inadequately qualified to converse in polite company on pretty much anything but ponies, makeup, teens and farms; someone who shrinks in unfamiliar company, and who finds meeting new people painful, it struck a chord. I can’t count the number of times I think, ‘I wish I had said’, or ‘I should have told them…’ or even, ‘that’s not me; why did I say that?’

So this is my newest resolution: I shall endeavor to bring all of me to every situation. In light of this, I am now bringing all of me to the resolution drafting. I am acknowledging that a hard-line stance is unkind, and setting up the ‘whole me’ to fail.

Instead, I am trying to increase my fruit and veg intake whilst simultaneously trying to eat more seasonably. I am trying to increase my water intake. I’m also trying to only eat meat that’s from a certifiable, British source, and preferably local rather than rat’n’cat bakes dipped in acid. If I must eat chocolate, which often happens, it must be fair trade. Cakes and donuts – I’m salivating now – must be home made. On the scrolling front, I’ve a wedding to plan and job to hold down so maybe that’s something to worry about at a later date.

As the year progresses, I will be taking a softer approach to this resolutioning and goal setting. And with this softer approach in mind, feel more empowered already. You see, now I can’t really fail.

It seems I’ve bossed my new year’s resolution already, folks.


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