The January Effect in Paris

Scale image

I tried really, really hard this year not to succumb to the January pressure to ‘get fit’ or ‘tone up’ (code for: look better than all my friends in Facebook photos). Objectively, I know that the 67 glasses of champagne, multiple kilos of cheese and three tonnes of apero biscuits I consumed over the Christmas period were going to produce a negative result on the scales at the start of the year. I also know that come March things will likely be back to just about normal, no superhuman juice-based-macrobiotic-no-carb-vegan-lentil-based-cleanse-bonanza required.

And yet, thanks to an unflattering fat-arm photo taken on New Year’s Eve, January has seen me become just a little bit food-and-exercise crazy once again.

After establishing that every gym in a 10-kilometre radius cost about twenty times more than I could afford, I signed up for an affordable boot camp. The class was brutally challenging and left me clutching my Ventolin puffer for about three hours afterwards and with impossibly sore hamstrings for six days. I bought a fitness DVD to do at home, determined that Paris winter wasn’t going to beat me (a truly inspired idea in a studio apartment) and I kept an online food diary which is possibly the most boring and depressing way to spend half an hour. I stressed about birthday parties and big nights out, and became a whole lot less fun to be around.

Today, as the hour of the next boot camp class approached I felt sick. The thought of sprinting around a freezing cold park in between relentless rounds of push-ups and various other non-fun fitness-type activities while someone yelled at me was enough to send me directly to Monoprix to buy a giant jar of nutella and a wardrobe of next-size clothes.

I tried bargaining with myself: ‘Come on, just go today, and if you still hate it, you don’t need to go again.’ Then, some tough love: ‘It’s one hour, suck it up princess!’ Followed by a good dose of guilt: ‘Of course you’re going to cancel, you always give up when things get a little bit tough.’

And then it occurred to me. I had spent more than half a day thinking and worrying and stressing about doing this particular type of exercise. On the other hand, what I actually wanted to do was go for a nice long walk to a new neighbourhood for a couple of hours, get some headspace, see some new sights, and breathe fresh air at a normal pace. Sure, this kind of exercise wouldn’t improve my aerobic fitness, but since I have no intention of ever running more than the ten metres it takes to catch the last metro, that’s probably okay.

Maybe later, if I feel like it, I’ll go to yoga class too. An activity I enjoy, which not only counts as physical activity, it reduces the overall January crazy, all in one go.
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Scale image courtesy of jeff_golden on Flickr.

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