A couple of people have asked me the last two days if I made any new years resolutions. I replied that no, I had not, but explained our bad, good, learnt, hopes tradition so said I had made 5 hopes for the coming year instead.
I’ve never really done new year resolutions. I am not much of a one for self denial and would far rather wrap up a year feeling positive and self congratulatory about what I have achieved in the previous 12 months than doing the hatchet job on myself and finding all sorts of lacking areas to strive to put right in the year ahead.
I did however once decide to do 12 positive things over the coming year and start each month with a pledge of ‘this month I will ….’ in a health improving manner. I only committed to each for the month and then hoped it would become habit forming and continue or I would at least see the benefit in the change, but if not then I could let it go after the month ended knowing I had met the goal I’d set myself. I don’t recall all of them but I know one was to eat more fruit and vegetables – historically I had been almost exclusively carb or protein based in my diet so I set out to find more fruit and veg dishes that I liked. I tried things I had never tried before, gave another go to things I had already decided I didn’t like and found some new favourites. It led to growing more fruit and veg in the garden and then to the allotment and I guess in some small way to where we are now.
The second month I decided to drink more water. For every cup of tea I made I drank a glass of water while the kettle boiled. Before I went to bed each night I would drink a glass of water. In theory it would lessen the volume of both tea and wine I would drink was the idea. I’m not sure it did that but to this day I still have a pint glass of water as my last drink of the day. Probably still not the recommended amount of water per day but better than I used to be.
Another month long commitment that year was to get more exercise. I tried running but I am not built for running. I am busty and asthmatic and it just hurt my knees. I did more walking – walking to work but pounding pavements was not for me. Then I started swimming, doing lengths while the kids had their weekly swimming lessons. I found myself signing up for a swimathon – fundraising for charity and agreeing to swim 2.5km in 2 hours. Ady and the kids came and cheered me along, I got a medal and raised several hundred pounds for charity. I improved my stamina if not my speed and then signed up to swim the channel – 12 weeks, 22 miles in installments. In my local swimming pool that was 1073 lengths, so I would go and swim for an hour or more each week (sometimes twice) for the 12 week period. I’ve not swum much since (it took months before the faint whiff of chlorine left my hair!) but I am certainly fitter and more exercised now than I was back then.
So, no new years resolutions for me this year. They don’t work. You are unlikely to give up smoking, or drinking, or stick to a diet or drop a dress size or run a marathon based on a whimsical promise made during the darkest, bleakest time of the year. But new year revolutions – a single positive change, for a nice finite period… maybe worth a go?