That’s it, I give up. I can’t do it. I’ve tried, truly. But no matter how much I tell myself it’s okay, that I just need to look on the bright side, the simple fact of life, every year, is that winter is a bit rubbish. To me, it’s the very definition of meh. Not brutal, not even a real challenge in the satisfying way, just a bore of a chore to get through.
he snuggly novelty of lying on the sofa watching movies because it’s lashing a grey, gruesome gale outside, wears off with the last of the mini Mars in the Celebrations box.
The rest of January, February and, let’s be honest, most of March, is like fishing your hand through the crinkle of empty Twix wrappers to find there’s only the Bounty left. And you can’t be bothered going to the shops to buy something better, so you eat them all anyway.
Every year I forget how much I hate January, and every year I have to pick myself up halfway in, and work out a strategy for getting through the rest. And without fail, every year I arrive at the same, boring conclusion; I just need some exercise. I say boring, because it should be obvious by now.
I’m a complete sucker for the big, bold promises of the new year, the magic wand of the latest fad or trend that will TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE. But it always comes back to the same, reliably dull old thing. If I move my body a bit more, if I physically shake off this fug growing like mould around my human form and soul, I will feel better, even when my lethargic mind wants to keep me where I am.
I finally bit the bullet this week and got myself back on my indoor bike. I had just put the kids to bed and was en route to the biscuits I keep hidden at the back of the kitchen cupboard, far away from pesky little hands, when I reluctantly had a word with myself. I don’t believe in guilting myself into exercise, it was more that I knew I wanted to feel better.
So, I squeezed into some Lycra, ignoring the pinch around my Christmas pudding belly, and started pedalling. That’s all I did. Pedal. I didn’t exert myself, I didn’t set a target in my head, I just pedalled. I even tried really hard to not break out in a sweat, but I’m unfit so it happened anyway. I use an online training platform, Zwift, where you can ride virtually with anyone else in the world who’s online at the same time.
Don’t ask me what my username is. I stay anonymous on there for a reason. I don’t need to win a sprint from my home office to validate my self-worth. And why is it only ever guys who try to beat me in sport anyway? I digress. I spent a meagre 20 minutes on there. I didn’t try to ride faster than any other avatar, I ignored the taunts to ‘narrow the gap’ on those front, I just kept moving my legs.
And guess what? I felt better for it. You knew that bit was coming though, didn’t you? Annoying, isn’t it?
Against my better wishes, I found myself sprinting for the finish line and marginally out of breath by the end.
When I climbed off, I was no fitter than when I started. I hadn’t even laid down the first pebble of a foundation of a new year’s habit, but I had done something, and I felt infinitely better because of it. Incidentally, I did go straight to the biscuits once I’d finished. I hadn’t ‘earned’ them as such, but I did savour the delayed gratification. Even though my evening ended the same way, I was proud of the Lycra diversion.
Who knows, I might even take the same route to the biscuit tin tonight. What is it they say? It’s not about the final destination, it’s all about the journey to get there.
Follow Orla on Twitter/Instagram @SportsOrla
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