Hands up if you made any New Year’s resolutions.
Keep them up if you haven’t broken them yet, because you’re clearly a stronger man than me and all i promised was that i wasn’t going to pass out on the toilet again with a chocolate orange melting in the pocket of my dressing gown.
It’s said that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” – never is this more depressingly true than midway through the month of February. It’s easy to commit to the idea of a punishing diet when you’re collapsed on the couch on December 27th, worrying about whether death by gout will take you down before dad has to use his new power washer to break up a solid mass of mince pie blocking your colon. It’s nothing to swear off the drink on January 2nd, when it feels like somebody has been dragging your liver behind a truck, but the idea becomes less attractive the longer you’ve been back at work. Your liver still looks like an Eastenders villain, but you need the prospect of sweet boozy oblivion to prevent you from throttling your boss with a length of network cable. Don’t even get me started on the gym, which seems like a good idea until you realise that the combination of dreadful music and shirtless meatheads everywhere means that you’ve just paid £400 for a season ticket to the worst nightclub in Spain.
If you don’t want to spend the rest of 2015 feeling like an abject failure, I recommend that you give yourself a do-over and reset your resolutions to something a touch more manageable. Think of it as an investment in your self-confidence. If you can get through 2015 without drinking snakebite every lunchtime or having a bacon heart attack you might stand a better chance of making 2016 your year as a teetotal vegan with more muscles than the rugby club shower.
You promised on January 1st: never to smoke cigarettes again.
Progress in the last month: four smokeless days climbing the walls, barking at family members like a Rottweiler with toothache and enduring vivid hallucinations of 20 Benson crawling across the ceiling like the baby from Trainspotting. Broke down one afternoon, found yourself eating handfuls of nicotine gum and hunting a dirty contact buzz by sucking in the fetid smog that hovers around pub ashtrays.
A more realistic target: aim to switch to an e-cigarette. Either get the supermarket kind, which smashes your addiction to nicotine by costing as much as a packet of fags but breaking after a few hours, or the fancy pro-vaper model from the internet. It destroys the social pleasure of smoking by forcing people to avoid you in case they get another 40 minute lecture about why you went for a pineapple-sprout 12mg blend over one that tastes like bubblegum and causes brain damage in lab rats.
You promised on January 1st: to start that arts & crafts project you dreamed up as a way to prove that years of telly and lager haven’t killed off the creative spirit of your younger self.
Progress in the last month: bought a book on knitting/sewing/flower arranging from Amazon, registered accounts on Etsy and Pinterest and started telling people about all the cool stuff you’re going to make (them buy). Also purchased some bafflingly expensive craft materials and spent an hour unwrapping a single ball of wool.
A more realistic target: start with drawing moustaches on people in magazines, step up to colouring books and biro desk doodles after a week or two. Instead of upcycling a wedding dress and pricing it at £900 on Etsy, cut the sleeves off a few T shirts and make a puppet out of an old sock.
You promised on January 1st: to read Moby Dick, War and Peace or some other cultural doorstop with more intellectual cred than the Dan Brown novels and TV listings magazines that are your only regular contact with the written word.
Progress in the last month: you bought at least one novel, read five pages before falling asleep and this article is the only thing you’ve read since that isn’t the instructions on a packet of Super Noodles.
A more realistic target: the secret is that nobody really reads War and Peace because it’s impossible to remember everybody’s names. Moby Dick is available as a pretty decent audiobook, and it’s easy to remember the characters because one has a peg leg and another is a whale.
You promised on January 1st: to begin a raw-food, paleo, red carpet detox or some other pseudo-diet made up by Californian hippy con artists.
Progress in the last month: three days of forcing down kale, two moderately satisfying dinners of poached chicken and a lot of sliced carrots. Followed by a weekend of wholemeal pasta without parmesan (salted with your tears) before erupting in grease-starved fury on Monday lunchtime. You ate two Big Macs with extra bacon and a milkshake that you bribed the staff to beef up with runoff from one of the fryers.
A more realistic target: don’t fry food at home, drastically cut down on ready meals and save money by eating a lot of vegetables. If you buy an exercise bike, and work out exactly how many miles you have to cycle to burn off a single Twix, you’ll see them for the evil caramel-laced bastards they truly are.
You promised on January 1st: to do something vaguely unusual, arduous and probably embarrassing for charity.
Progress in the last month: told everybody at work, registered an annoying website to guilt people into giving you cash and vaguely thought about going for a run to get in shape. The sense of smug self-satisfaction lead you to reward yourself with an 800 calorie bacon sandwich.
A more realistic target: either reschedule your event to take advantage of some wacky corporate charity month later in the year (“Bono-ctober”), or start forging the evidence of your naked run across the Kalahari by going to the sand dunes, sucking in your gut for the camera and borrowing a nativity play donkey to add in some convincing local colour.
You promised on January 1st: to go to the gym every day, because that’s the only way you’ll get value from the ‘premium’ gym membership, £90 gym shoes and the impulse purchase of a dustbin full of protein powder.
Progress in the last month: an induction session followed by 20 minutes on a cross trainer. A 30 minute weights workout the next day, then four days feeling like you’ve been interrogated by the CIA. You’ve realised that protein powder tastes like ice cream with sand in it, and that you never want to hear ‘Rhythm Is A Dancer’ again as long as you live.
A more realistic target: get healthier by osmosis by forcing yourself to go to the gym every day, but leaving it optional as to whether you actually do any exercise. Either you get guilted into working out just to pass the time, or the long hours you spend drinking dubious XXTREME energy drinks and watching Sky News in the recovery room will lead somebody to offer you weightlifting tips, a bespoke action plan for that vibrating toilet chair thing, or possibly just some discount steroids.