January. The month where we turn into nasty, spiteful, hate-filled, judgemental and downright horrible people. Not towards others but towards ourselves and all in the persuit of creating our better self.
I’m so exhausted from all the self-hatred. I grew up with my mum constantly berating herself. She was always saying she was too fat for this that or the other. She couldn’t wear anything sleeveless because the tops of her arms were too big and she only wore dark colours and v-necks because they were slimming and she never, ever got her legs out in case anyone caught sight of her varicose veins (which are absolutely not visible to the naked eye). In short she dressed to hide her perceived ‘bad bits’ and never to accentuate her very real ‘good bits’. Growing up with someone who thinks like that and talks like that rubs off on your own perception of yourself and not in a good way.
Years ago during a particularly low point, I saw a therapist who got me to bring in a photograph of myself as a kid. I chose one of me in my school uniform, I was probably about five or six and was standing by the curtains in our dining room. I had a comedy ginger bowl-cut hair do and the biggest blue eyes staring out of the most innocent looking little face. My therapist asked me to look at that photo of myself and tell that little girl all the horrible things I felt about myself – tell her how she wasn’t as good as others, how she wasn’t clever or pretty or funny. How she didn’t deserve to be happy. How she was too fat to do anything.
I just couldn’t do it. That little girl wasn’t any of those awful things. It really made me realise that actually what was holding me back and making me miserable were my own negative thoughts. So why when it comes to new year’s resolutions, when we strive for something that could be so positive do we shroud it in negativity?
I’m fat and for health reasons I want to be fitter. It would be easy to tell myself a whole load of negative things but they’re not true. I’m just fat. I’ve just consumed more than I’ve burnt. That’s it and that’s OK. I want to put healthier foods into my body and I want to move more and burn more energy and that’s okay too and it’s also OK to strive to be healthier whilst also being happy with who you are in the same way that it’s OK to want to learn to play the guitar without loathing yourself because you currently don’t know a single chord. But with the positive mental attitude and all the will in the world to make the change, how do you actually follow through?
Jennifer Bulcock called us this week, she’s a nutrition consultant and fitness coach who works with clients in Leeds and she said: “The problem with having a new year’s resolution is that you’re starting something and things that have a start point have an end point.” True. With cupboards full of mince pies and uneaten chocolates it’s easy to say ‘I’ll eat this all this week and start my diet next week’ something that Jen reckons is the opposite of a healthy lifestyle: “If you want to succeed, don’t control yourself with food, control the environment that you’re in. You should be able to eat all foods but if at this point some of the leftover Christmas food is too tempting, get rid of it – donate it to a food bank, crumble it up and feed it to the birds, take it into work. By controlling your environment you don’t feel that you have to get your money’s worth by eating a load of it and then not eating anything for days because you feel guilty and then eating loads of chocolate again because you’re hungry. You end up in this endless cycle where you’re trapped in your own diet prison”.
So that cemented it for me. This year I’m trying moderation. I’m not going to cut carbs or dairy but equally I’m not putting a box of biscuits into my online shop as I know I’ll guzzle the lot in one sitting. I’m going to try moderation. It’s got to be worth a shot, right? Hopefully I’ll be more successful that I’ve been in my ongoing battle in encouraging my mum to wear a pastel-coloured tshirt.
A night away from it all
The best Christmas present I received by a country mile this year was from my husband and it cost £36 but is worth thousands.
He’s booked me a night in the Travelodge in the city centre, the one off Swinegate. No, I’ve not got a strange fetish for budget hotels, I’m just exhausted and need a night off of the treadmill that is the daily grind.
I have nothing to complain about, I’ve got a family that I adore, a job that I love and friends who will always have my back but from time to time it all just gets a bit stressful. It can be hard to relax at home knowing that there’s a pile of washing that needs doing.
I can’t veg out in front of the telly without thinking that I really ought to get up and make dinner.
I also can count on one hand the number of nights of unbroken sleep I’ve had in the last two and a half years. So my present is a night away from it all. All by myself.
I don’t need anywhere swish, I just need somewhere where I can go to Marks & Spencer and get myself a picnic tea, check into my room and spend the evening watching Emmerdale and reruns of whatever is on Dave.
Then I’ll get a full night’s sleep in a bed to myself and the following morning I’m after a long hot shower I’ll get in my car and drive the 15-minute journey home to my own house to spend some quality time with the ones I love.
If anyone dares to set the fire alarm off at 2am I’ll be furious.
A moment of calm in January
I know everyone says January is a bit of a rubbish month what with the dark days and no one having any spare cash, but I quite like it.
After the hustle and bustle of Christmas I think it’s quite refreshing to have a moment of calm.
With a city like ours, having zero budget doesn’t mean staying in either – there’s plenty of free stuff to do.
I’ve made a list of three things I want to do before payday and first up it’s The Tetley – no idea why I’ve never been, I love art and this is right up my street.
Secondly Left Bank Leeds does a free afternoon tea on the second Wednesday of each month – free cake is an out-and-out winner (obviously I’ll be consuming it in moderation) and then finally I’d like to do a trip to Leeds City Museum which is stacked full of local history.
Not a bad way of spending nothing!
Caroline Verdon is one half of the breakfast show at Radio Aire.
You can hear Caroline and Ant between 6-10am every weekday morning.