Ah, January….my least favorite time of year.
Why do I despise January? Well, it is a little quieter than the holidays, which actually I don’t mind so much. But it’s generally cold and dark—ick, not very much time outside, and it’s a big social letdown from all the fun events that December generally brings. But what really gripes me, is that in January-every January, without fail, my entire life, it seems as if all of a sudden the whole wide world has gotten together and decided to take full responsibility for everyone else’s health and well being, (whew…finally!) but because, evidently we are sloth, we now must be guilted and cajoled into action. All around us, magazines, news organizations and media outlets are screaming at us that January is the time to Repent! from all of your misdeeds of holiday over indulgences-and the past year in general- and to resolve to shape up, once and for all! And we need to hurry! And get to the gym! Or on the program! And take off those ‘5 holiday pounds’! Because before you know it, you’ll wake up, and it will be 50lbs! And to top it all off, all of these weight/diet/exercise pronouncements seem to have exclamation points attached to them! As if they are exclusive orders sent down from the almighty diet god! Or a blinking red alert from Fox News! (Take your pick…)
Don’t get me wrong, I truly understand the urge to take stock of life in general at the beginning of a new year; it is, after all a very well defined beginning. And, I see nothing wrong ancd actually advocate the well- intentioned and thought-out personal decision at any time of the year to strive to become healthier-physically, emotionally, spiritually or otherwise. What I take such grand offense to is the fear mongering that seems to come along with the Big January Scare and the very bossy pushiness of it all. It’s as if it’s become completely cultural at this point; we as women are all just normally expected to be on the BIG JANUARY DIET. (DO men feel this pressure? I’d be interested to know.) And this, I am sure is why so many people fail at this popular resolution, year after year after year… And it just makes me want scream ‘YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!’ to all the offending parties and then eat a big piece of chocolate cake right out there on a lazy lawn chair in front of my gym, despite them all.(!!!)
Why should January always be the designated beat up on yourself month?! Here’s what I suggest. Resolve, if you really must resolve something, to take January in stride. Take a deep breath or maybe a yoga class and above all DO NOT PANIC. If you DO intend to act, act in the pursuit of health for godssakes, NOT in the name of January or resolution time, etc, etc. Vow, if you will, to UN-OBSESS about The January Scare. Don’t entertain discussions of new January diets or exercise programs with friends; this only proliferates this overexposed issue and really isn’t very helpful for the Girl Power Sisterhood Support System that we are all working so diligently to create. And here’s something else to chew on : what all those ‘average weight gained around the holidays’ articles don’t tell you, is that in January most people get on off that November–to-December social party train and go back to life as normal, and any residual gain generally rights itself within a month or two. So there.
And one last thing, to Oprah, because I know she’s a huge fan of Fierce Women Dish: It’s okay! You’re okay! You are human, even though many times you are forced up there on the superhuman pedestal by those of us that put up there. You are going to be healthy and all right; this I know for sure. And, I don’t feel quite so bad, because I do know that you, personally, did NOT fall prey to the Big January Scare, even though your magazine certainly did. To meet your deadlines for January, I am sure you were working on everything back sometime in October or November….waaaaaay before the big scare, and that makes me oh-so-happy.