Dr Ciara Kelly: 'I'm going from zero hours exercise to 100 days of walking'
I realise it's probably already too late to be wishing people a happy new year - but I'm slow about stuff like that and to me the whole start of January remains a time of note in terms of taking stock of your life and one where I like to think about how I'd like to start the year as I mean to continue it.
For the past five years January for me has mostly passed in a blur called Operation Transformation which kicks off on our tellies again on Tuesday night. And this year I feel somewhat fraudulent sitting behind that desk as over the past few weeks I have done absolutely zero exercise and have eaten mince pies to beat the band.
Now I don't subscribe to the notion that ministers for health can't be overweight or that doctors can't smoke and still do their jobs properly. The truth is you can know your stuff and give very good advice without necessarily following it yourself. But Operation Transformation is a little bit different.
The leaders who sign up for the show lay themselves bare for the country to see. They put themselves through all sorts of challenges in order to achieve a sense of control over their lives, their eating and their fitness. And to be honest I don't think it's good enough that I sit behind the desk lecturing them when I have taken my eye off the ball from a health and fitness perspective myself.
And so on New Year's Eve this year I made a new year's resolution for myself to put that back on my agenda. I have been using every excuse in the book about being busy and having 'a lot on' to avoid doing any exercise but that ended on the first of January.
I committed on social media and basically made a pact with anyone who would listen, to doing 100 days of walking. That is from the first day of 2018 I would walk every day for at least 30 minutes. Come hail, rain or shine. In sickness or in health. Whether I feel like it or not - for the first 100 days of the year and I will post pictures of it so people can see that I'm doing it and so I will be rightly humiliated if I were to bottle out of it.
I picked 100 days as it's a nice round number and I'm secretly hoping that if I do walk absolutely every day for the 100 days until April 10 that it will become a way of life and I will continue to do so afterwards albeit without posting a photo every time I head out! I'm also hoping that getting a walk in absolutely every day will focus my mind a little on being healthy so it may have a knock-on effect on what I eat, what I drink and how I feel.
I'm also a massive numbers geek so I think not wanting to break the run of days will motivate me - in a way that other unmeasurable resolutions wouldn't. And I decided that walking for 30 minutes should be doable irrespective of how I'm feeling or how busy I am on any given day and so that is a minimum standard - of course I can do more at various times - but I can never do less.
And I'm hoping that some of you might join me in spirit if not physically! I'm using the hashtag #100daysofwalking and today is #day7 - so only 93 to go. But you can start today or indeed tomorrow if needs be - just commit and whatever day you start becomes #day1
The thing about walking is it's suitable for everyone. Young, old, fit, unfit, arthritic, overweight - you name it you can walk - even if it's slow, even if it's hard, even if it's not very far.
And the benefits of walking are huge in terms of fitness, mobility, agility, mood, heart health, bone health, weight and improved sleep. As well as lowering your risk of diabetes, anxiety and even cancer. It's like magic beans! And is the perfect starting point for anyone wanting to make a positive change for health.
The other joy is if you do hit your 10,000 steps a day for 100 days it means you have taken one million steps in the first hundred days of the year - and if that isn't a great start to 2018 I don't know what is. So get on board. Start now and use #100daysofwalking to lead you towards a healthier you!
Ciara presents Lunchtime Live weekdays on Newstalk radio from 12-2
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