It’s the time of year when we become acutely aware of the terribly unhealthy lives we’re leading. Is it worth resolving to change this in the New Year, or are we better off rejecting these potentially harmful fixations and just focussing on doing what makes us happy?
Only the other day I found myself perusing the shelves of Planet Organic genuinely debating how many different variations of milk alternatives I could lug home when I noticed the swathes of fellow shoppers, their unfamiliarity with the store betrayed by the barely concealed looks of disdain whilst eyeing up the overpriced packets of ‘kale crisps’. “It even smells healthy in here”, I heard someone say, accusatively.
The beginning of each year must be an absolute godsend for health food shops and fitness brands, even if many never see through their good intentions. Having overindulged over the Christmas period, I’m sure most people have momentarily entertained the idea of joining a gym – but what about those with the wherewithal to actually take it all seriously before ending up obsessed? You need only visit the ‘explore’ page of Instagram to witness the reams of health bloggers extolling the virtues of zero carb diets and constant high-octane workouts, manifested in shots of enviably toned bodies clad in expensive lycra.
Unsurprisingly, the most popular resolution every year is to lose weight and this Christmas, many will have received at least one of the ‘Lean in 15’ books by Joe Wicks, personal trainer turned bestselling author and man responsible for a 25% increase in UK sales of tenderstem broccoli. And whilst there’s nothing wrong with eating healthily and exercising regularly with the aim of becoming a little more svelte, it’s no coincidence that the rise of social media has been mirrored by a peak of both men and women being diagnosed with eating disorders.
The New Year presents a good excuse to regenerate, granted, but I’m going to try to do this whilst leaving the more restrictive resolutions in the past and seeking more of what makes me genuinely happy. A healthy lifestyle can be something that waxes and wanes perpetually throughout our lives and although it may be true that ‘cleaner eating’ promotes a better mindset, New Year’s resolutions of this ilk surely only pit ourselves against each other and ultimately lead to dissatisfaction. Instead, let’s reassess what we want to get out of life and weigh up what our regrets would be if we died tomorrow (a morbid thought, but actually quite sobering??). I suppose this is why so many people take this opportunity to either get married or break up, quit their job or knuckle down, travel or settle. Now ignore the voices chastising you for not getting your ‘9-a-day’ and throw away those kale crisps – no one actually likes them.
Words by Tilda Bywater