In the unlikely event that aliens do happen to be observing us in a non-interfering capacity, I bet they’re having a good giggle at us right now. “It’s that time of what they call a ‘year’ again”, they will say “when the entire of what they inexplicably call ‘the West’ (even though their planet is round) undertakes a collective binge and purge”. I don’t wish to trivialise the issue, but there’s no getting around the fact that in December and January, everyone essentially becomes bulimic.
Every television screen, newspaper, magazine, shop window and billboard in Britain currently sports some sort of tantalising gastronomic fare, gleaming invitingly, practically commanding us to consume it. Food and sex become inextricable and interchangeable at this time of year in the World of marketing. The advertising of food goes totally visceral. Guilt and pleasure intermingle in the message – “Go on! It’s Christmas!”. It’s vaguely embarrassing – I have to fight the urge to cover random children’s eyes as they pass a picture of a chocolate pudding.
Everywhere I look, at the moment, makes me dribble a bit in my mouth. I’m turning into Pavlov’s sodding dog.
With depressing inevitability, on the stroke of Midnight on January 1st, the message changes entirely. We are invited to repent our gluttony, to snap into discipline and self-flagellate at the torture alter otherwise known as the gym. We are reminded that there are only a few short months until Summer, when we will be forced by the presently absent sun to expose our naked flab to the critical eye of the public.
We spend anything between one week and one month (if the evidence of my friends is anything to go by) frantically huffing, puffing, sweating, aching, surviving on little but carrot sticks and willpower before declaring “I can submit myself to this regime no longer!” and diving into a bumper pack of cut-price tree decorations.
Well, I’m not having it any more. I will no longer be subject to such blatant manipulation. Because, blog readers, I have come to an important realisation:
Every year, on January 1st I prepare myself mentally for my birthday on April 28th with the promise that by then I will have thrown myself wholeheartedly into a balanced and healthy food and exercise regime which will see me into the forthcoming years (which is ridiculous, because I currently HAVE a balanced and healthy food and exercise regime, it’s just unformulated). I promise myself that my entire patterns of consumption and attitude to fitness will, this year, undergo a seismic change. By my birthday I am always, without exception, fatter than I was on January 1st. And so I say to myself “ok, well, never mind, the regime starts now, cos really this is my New Year, when you think about it” and about a fortnight later the entire thing is abandoned and forgotten.
Upon this abandonment and regime promise amnesia, I start to lose weight. By October, which is a time of year which holds no sentimentality or significance to me whatsoever I am always, without exception, thinner than I was on my birthday.
Although( if the aforementioned evidence is anything to base my opinion of myself on) I am a ridiculous specimen of a human being, I am quite certain I cannot be alone in this.
So, this Christmas, I shall eschew the pressure to pack as many calories as I possibly can into my body before the Great Purge of January begins. I’m sure that by the time my birthday rolls around I’ll be healthier and happier.