Saturday 21 September 2019

Dr Ciara Kelly - 'Just because you haven't managed Dry January is not a reason to go back on the piss six times a week'

Dr Ciara Kelly. Photo: David Conachy
Dr Ciara Kelly. Photo: David Conachy
Renegotiate your exercise regime, but don’t give up on getting fit

Ciara Kelly

Bloody hell, was it just me or did January fly?

It seems like only yesterday we were all fired up with 'new year, new you' and envisaging the beach bodies we'd have by Easter, and now it's heading into February and our enthusiasm has started to wane big time. So for many of us our new workout clothes are lying in the bottom of our drawer like a colourful reproach and only the direct debit proves our gym membership ever existed.

The third and fourth weeks of January are when the vast majority of us fall away from our new year resolutions as we realise that the 'old year, old us' was not some unfortunate mistake but was rather us doing what we find easiest - which in most people's case is generally nothing.

Very often the aspirational new you - you think you are going to become - doesn't materialise because it was over ambitious and unsustainable. Often a poor fit with how you actually live your life and the amount of change necessary to achieve it was simply unmanageable. And because the extreme regime you adopted on January 1 has failed - you decide 'feck that!' and slip back into the exact same old habits.

But here is a novel idea! What about trying a little moderation? So you didn't manage to finish dry January? That's not a reason to go back on the piss six times a week. How about you decide instead not to drink four nights a week and limit your drinking to two or three drinks on the nights that you do?

So you cracked and bought a packet of fags? How about you throw them in the bin and go out and buy some ecigarettes instead?

So you've failed to give up chocolate? That doesn't mean you need to turn around and eat a family pack of Dairy Milk. Maybe allowing yourself a Maltesers bunny of a Friday evening is actually OK and possibly easier to stick to in the long-term than swearing off all chocolate for evermore!

My personal failure is I swore I'd go back to running this January after injury and surgery knocked my routine out last year. I planned to get fit as a flea. Oh, I have all the gear. Runners with soles like miniature mattresses, black lycra trousers that wouldn't look out of place on a cat burglar and day-glo tops that could have passed muster at a disco in 1983. I even have a yoke to strap my iphone to my left bicep and an unflattering hat with a light on the front to illuminate my path or perhaps perform an impromptu smear test while out on my run. But none of it is making any difference.

None of it is enough to force me out the door to run. I did manage a couple of half-hearted jogs during January but a fairly heavy work schedule coupled with some rapidly dwindling willpower means my running is simply not happening. I don't even have the enthusiasm to wriggle into my tights-like trousers.

So I have decided to regroup. If running four times a week seems to be beyond me at the minute for whatever reason, I need to renegotiate with myself what I'm actually willing to do. Putting on all the gear appears to be a stumbling block for me at the minute - so I'm going to remove that obstacle. I may need a load of kit for running, but I need nothing but a pair of runners for a brisk walk - so that's where I'm at.

Instead of striving for the currently unachievable and failing, I've decided to lower my sights but actually succeed. So I'm switching to walking. I can wear anything while walking once I've got runners so can better fit it into my working day. And a brisk walk is almost as good as a run in aerobic terms and it's lower impact of your joints. Boom!

It's a compromise between what I aimed for on January 1 and doing nothing whatsoever - which is where I'm currently at - and it just might be something I can keep up for longer than three weeks!

Have a look at your own new year resolutions and see if you're not maintaining them, and ask yourself if there's an alternative to giving them up altogether. Some half way house between 'new year, new you' and 'same old, same old'. Maybe like me, you're just more tortoise than hare.


Sunday Independent

Editors Choice

Also in Life