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Opinion: As January drew to a close, so did hundreds of New Year’s diets

My modest goal for this year is to get a body like Cristiano Ronaldo… but January’s good intentions seem a long way off.

Ger Lowry

NEW YEAR. New intentions, new diet, a whole new lifestyle. Each year begins with a wave of optimism, an opportunity to put right the wrongs of the previous year. My modest goal is to have the body of Cristiano Ronaldo, training for eight hours a day while continuing with my day job in the remaining waking hours.

The method of achieving this does not concern me too much, it is all about visualising the end result – me, striding along a beach in slow motion, sporting a deep mahogany tan and a jaw-dropping six-pack. It doesn’t even deter me that my skin tone in real life only ever deviates between a brilliant white and an angry shade of red.

Waning willpower 

As January drew to a close, so too did hundreds of New Year’s diets around the country. We can be so committed when it comes to thinking of legitimate reasons to abandon the plan. There was the runny nose in early January, no doubt the result of acute malnourishment. Or the feeling of fatigue in the early evening after foregoing the traditional 3pm snack box.

Confectionary brands are all too aware that early February is the perfect time to take advantage of our vulnerable state. Posters of chocolate treats are splattered across most bus shelters at this time of year, demonstrating that advertisers are ruthless folk who feel it is best to strike while the iron is hungry.

Outsourcing the decision-making 

My personal dream has not been forgotten just yet. A major point in my favour is that I have outsourced much of the decision-making regarding the type of food I should be eating. My wife is the brains of the operation when it comes to the healthy eating plans. During my days as a single man, my weekly shopping list was a little more predictable. If you asked me what curly kale was, my best guess would be that he was an up-and-coming rapper from the wrong side of the tracks in Tullamore.

We have recently moved into a new house and are going through the nesting phase. For me, nesting started and ended with the installation of satellite television. My better half had a few additional ideas in mind for us. As a result, I am now the proud co-owner of some very useful implements to keep us healthy.

First of all we have the cookbooks. Yes, I am using the plural form of the word cookbook to describe some of my possessions. Wherever I am in the house, there is usually a cookbook within arm’s reach. That is quite the boast, even taking into account the modest size of our house and the impressive length of my wingspan. Some of the diets might be considered fads, but they are usually based around the same principle – stop shoving junk food into your gob.

Getting to grips with popular diets 

The first book I encountered promoted the “caveman diet”. In my mind the caveman is a hunter and gatherer. In the past I have stumbled home from the pub, having proudly avoided the temptation of the chip shop. But when I arrive back to the house I become the caveman, scavenging around the kitchen for something –anything – to eat. This was when I discovered the delights of standing in front of the open fridge, swaying slightly while enjoying forkfuls of coleslaw straight from the tub.

Another popular diet these days is called 5:2. I’m not sure exactly what it means. My best guess is that you should have a maximum of five biscuits with your tea after dinner. The only time it is acceptable to go back for more is if there are only two biscuits left in the pack after the initial five have been consumed. At that stage common sense should prevail, it’s hardly worth putting away a pack of biscuits with only two left.

The cookbooks are only one step in the process. It was decided that we need something to measure the bottom line, for want of a more sensitive term. So a futuristic looking bathroom scales was suitably placed in the bathroom, right in front of the sink so that I stub my toe whenever I go to turn on a tap. This scales thinks highly of himself. Not only does he measure fractions of a pound, but he also has the audacity to claim that he can tell me my exact body fat percentage as well. The mirror above the sink probably gave him a rough estimate when he moved in.

You have probably got the sense that I am wary of this new gadget, and for good reason. Not to be outdone by a machine, I have devised a creative way to get the best out of its powers. As long as I keep stubbing my toe, it is a message that all is well. Any alternative scenario would suggest that my “six-pack” has reached the sink before my big toe has had a chance to touch the scales. If this happens I will need to consult my cookbooks.

So, with all the basic knowledge contained in the cookbooks, and my scientific approach to measuring my progress, I’m pretty confident that the summer objective is merely a formality.

Ger Lowry loves creative writing, which is not always appropriate in his day job as a pensions administrator.

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Ger Lowry

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