The Coleman column
The journey to a better version of you is best begun when your head is in the right place – and be nice to yourself on the way, writes Rowan
Ah January, the sensible month. The month of accountability and accounting for those of us who are self employed and badly organised. And it’s often the month for giving things up and turning a new page. If I had a pound for every time my mum greeted the new year with the rallying cry of ‘I’m starting a new regime’ I’d have £82.
But I’m not a fan of giving up anything much. Certainly not totally. One thing I’ve learnt through experience and a countless number of failed diets, is that setting yourself up to fail inevitably results in, well failing.
We can’t suddenly be perfect overnight without going through some kind of radical personality transformation, and as I’m not keen on the idea of becoming a Stepford Wife kind of woman I think it’s healthier not to try.
Why? Because change takes time. I’ve been overweight for a really long time. My twins are six and I’m still carrying the baby weight. I’ve been depressed about this for a really long time too, a depression that peaked on a girls’ holiday last June. I just felt so ugly. And yes I know that beauty comes from within and my body is a reflection of my life and motherhood, and that is true, but I still felt rubbish about myself.
So in July I began to make small changes. I joined a healthy eating programme. I engaged the services of a personal trainer. I took up Nordic walking. And in the months since I’ve become healthier, fitter and a fair bit slimmer. And I feel good. But throughout the whole ongoing process I’ve been careful to set myself small obtainable goals, and if I fall off the wagon I’ve accepted it as a part of changing, not an excuse to give up.
Why am I telling you this? Because as far as I’m concerned there is nothing more dangerous than waiting for one day, month or time of year to make a change in your life. Because if you fail you have a whole year ahead to feel like a failure before you try again.
So have a drink I say, if you want one. Don’t waste the leftover Christmas cake. If you want to give up smoking or lose weight or go back to college, remember it’s taken you a while to learn the habits you want to break and it might take time to relearn good ones. There is no deadline, there is no right time. The only time to embark on something like personal improvement is when your head is in the right place and you are prepared to allow yourself to fail as many times as it takes on the road to success.
‘I’ve been careful to set myself small obtainable goals – if I fall off the wagon it’s part of changing ’