January Guilt

I love the fact that something can happen recurrently and each time it happens we are surprised. This happens with English weather. Every year there are leaves on the railway lines in autumn, then snow, causing cancellations or delays. Every year the railway companies are astonished.

This happened to me within the last week. No, not leaves or snow preventing me functioning normally; surprised about repeated reality. January guilt had struck my sports club, causing confusion and disarray. Yes, it happens every year and no, I should not have been caught out.

Normally we do static cycle training on a Saturday morning; class only half-full usually, so we don’t usually bother booking. Last week the place was absolutely wall-to-wall with people, but unfortunately not so with bicycles. Although on the reserve list, we appeared to be about number 35 and 36, so, having decided against bike sharing, we gave up and went to the gym.

The gym was fairly solidly packed with people; also packed with fairly solid people. If club-level January guilt gets any worse, the gym will become so full that it won’t be possible to exercise at all. Otherwise they’ll need to have an instructor standing at the front shouting ‘jump’ so we all leap together or ‘kick left’; a bit like sardines in a Zumba class. This would have the added advantage of making the place so hot and sweaty that it would act like a built-in sauna. Presumably the smell would be awful enough to put people off eating for days afterwards, so doubly helpful for weight loss.

Not that I object everybody else indulging in January guilt. I myself am a fully paid-up member. So far, to prove this, I have bought a bike and lost two pounds. Low-calorie me did cause a problem when we went to a restaurant recently. Nothing on the menu stuck out as an obvious healthy option (ok, it was an Italian restaurant). In fact the only obvious low-calorie option was the menu itself which I assumed, as it was made of paper, would have been high in fibre also.

It would have been really useful if they had listed the calories on the menu, somewhere to one side to avoid confusion with the prices (calories probably big numbers!). Having thought about it, I felt that many people might not want a menu with calories on, yet it would be very unsubtle to have to ask for a calorie listed version.

‘May I have the one with all of the… cough… extra information?’

‘Certainly, Madam. You mean the Fuller Figures version, I presume?’

Instead of having to ask, the other option would be to be automatically weighed and height scanned on walking across the doormat. Once your body mass index had been calculated, you would be handed a normal menu (BMI less than 25), with calories listed (BMI 25 to 30). If you had a BMI of greater than 30, you would be handed one with only celery listed; grated, chopped, Julienne or on toast. Not subtle, but a reminder that January guilt was still in full flow.

The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that we repeatedly make the same one. I’m not entirely sure when it’s respectable to give up on one’s resolutions, which unfortunately means that when I finish writing this, I’ll feel compelled to go off the gym, if I can get in. Presumably there is a sort of natural wastage, an attrition rate, a bit like radioactivity, so that a certain number of resolutions get dropped naturally as time goes on. I imagine it’s only the SAS of the resolution front who manage to get through to the end of the year unbroken. My main aim now is to get through January without breaking my resolutions, so at least 1/12 of the year has been respectably faced. If I make it through the whole year, after awarding myself honourary SAS status, I will have to think of a new resolution. The way I feel now, my new resolution will be to make no resolutions at all.

The children have no such problems with January guilt and have just turned out solid gold performances in a squash tournament, both winning their sections. Now, that’s the best sort of January gilt.



Alison Gardiner 2014


About alisongardiner1

Writer of YA series of books. Broadcaster/podcaster Litopia After Dark.
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