January is a month that is synonymous with the word detox. And why not? New year, resolutions, high jinks over the festive period; it makes sense to buckle down and think about making changes – for the better! If we feel better about ourselves, then that’s a good thing right? Of course!
However, I take a different approach during the longest and darkest month of the year. I enjoy a Christmas ale or three, red wine naturally and a wee nip doesn’t go amiss from time to time, but for me going cold turkey on the 1st January simply doesn’t work. I don’t know why. I can’t make sense of it. Eleven year’s ago (and fourteen days) I gave up smoking. I wasn’t much of a smoker, but I enjoyed the social aspects of it. Yeah I was a social smoker, but I could also binge smoke a pack of 20 in an evening for no apparent reason. Not good, not clever. Silly boy!
So on New Year’s eve 2005 I smoked my last cigarette with my smoking buddy (who I used to nab tabs off all the time) and just decided there and then and told him once and for all I was quitting for good. He didn’t believe me, but I did. And the strange thing is I’ve never even considered smoking again. It’s only as write that I have to remind myself that I use to smoke.
The other vice that is top of the list when January comes around is booze. But I have a mellow relationship with alcohol as I drink in moderation. I’m lucky as I seem to metabolise it very quickly with few ill effects (yet) and if I overdo it I simply shut down and go to sleep. Quite a handy mechanism.
And my argument is simple - everything in moderation (cigarettes being the obvious exception). It’s that simple. I don’t live like a monk because I don’t live in a monastery. Maybe one day when times start to slow and if I care enough, yeah it’s an obvious thing to forego. But even if I do go teetotal, there are no guarantees it will enhance performances. Sometimes when we deprive ourselves of the things we enjoy and identify (perhaps unnecessarily?) as vices, demons, temptations we set an expectation of instant gains – and when it’s not met, for whatever reason, disappointment, bitterness or even resentment can take hold.
Happy head, happy legs is a recent phrase I’ve conjured up. So going cold turkey on first day of the year isn’t going to work for me. Phasing a reduction in usual suspects (alcohol, crisps and junk food) and replacing them with healthier options (pineapple juice, nuts and stir fries) has more of a chance of getting me to April’s target race weight. But as the picture above shows from this evening’s dinner, it’s a transitional process and doesn’t happen overnight.
So for those who manage to go completely and utterly cold turkey and maintain it into the Spring without any wobbles, hats off to you! That’s impressive and very motivating. I feel yet another challenge coming on…next year of course!