Day one: 1st January 8.30am.
Determined, I crunch through the frosty grass to the shed where my husband has put the exercise bike.
“Peddling will warm you up.” he calls cheerfully from the bedroom window, then gets back into bed with a hot cup of tea.
It is nice in the shed. Or it can be. The sun angles onto the pine walls as I peruse the resolutions I’d pinned the day before:
- Lose two stone. Do not lose six pounds in two weeks then nothing in the third then give up. Eat more vegetables. Make everyone else eat more vegetables.
- Do more exercise. Walk, don’t drive. Use exercise bike every day for at least half an hour, come rain or shine. Look for second hand rowing machine. Don’t let the family laughing get you down.
- Be more creative and frugal. Adapt charity shop clothes or make own with massive stash of hoarded fabric in attic. (Do NOT buy a size too small because you’re in denial.)
- Declutter. Start with attic. (Maybe exercise bike could then move indoors.)
- Drink less wine and less tea.
- Read more intellectual stuff.
- Be more positive.
- Be more patient.
- Have faith.
- Laugh more.
- Stop biting nails.
At the bottom of the page is a scanned in honest photograph of myself in all my podgy glory; plump cheeked, muffin-topped, oozing, wearing my husband’s wedding ring because mine won’t fit (and his no longer fits him either).
OK so the biting nails one has been on my resolutions list since I was twelve, but one year I’ll manage it.
My daughter must have sneaked in sometime on New Year’s Eve, because between the typescript and the photograph, she has scrawled “Believe in yourself. You are awesome! XXX”
After half an hour of pedalling, I get down from the bike and try to work out the optimum time I can spend in the freezing shed, getting my breathing back to a rate which wouldn’t have smug-guts laughing his dressing-gown off but not cooling down so much I’ll get hypothermia.
Day two: 2nd January 8.30am
Fifteen minutes into pedalling: It’s boring out here, even with the smugness of self-satisfaction to keep me company. I’ll have to download some audio books or podcasts and listen to them while I cycle (that could tick off the intellectual reading resolution too). Maybe I could get some posters on the walls. Maybe I could get my son to make some kind of film that could be projected on the wall so I could pretend I was cycling somewhere exciting. Smug-guts is in the kitchen making bacon sandwiches. Every time. Every single time I try to lose weight he finds an insatiable urge for bacon, belly-pork, roast duck… How can you eat salad in the face of that?
Day three: 3rd January 7pm
It’s really not the same after a day at work. I can pretend I’m slamming down on the emails with each pedal, but doesn’t really work. It’s dark too. The big battery operated lantern doesn’t really fill the corners. Spiders are sniggering I expect. I got on the scales this morning. I hadn’t lost any weight. Still, my hair was wet. It’s amazing how heavy wet hair is.
Day four: Look it was a bad day at the office OK?
Day five: 4th January 7pm
Those spiders have brought their mates in to snigger, I swear. Mind you it’s hot in here this evening. Next door had too much paper and cardboard after Christmas and the recycling van wouldn’t take it. He’s too lazy to take it to the dump and he’s made a bonfire on the other side of the fence. Isn’t there a law about when you’re allowed to light bonfires? Is it before or after 7pm? Something about washing on the line. There certainly ought to be a law about lighting them near a fence in a small garden next to another small garden with a shed in it. The smoke is getting to me and it’s boring out here anyway. I’m going in to see how my son is getting on with that video.
Well that’s an evening we’re never going to forget. It was a nice shed. I wonder if the insurance will pay out for the melted exercise bike too. I could buy a nice new outfit with that money. The firefighters were nice though. Good to see a man in action. Men. Admittedly they were more interesting in flirting with my daughter than me but then she’d made them all a cuppa once the fire was out.
Walking back to the house I pick up a scrap of scorched paper from the grass. It has a picture of a woman on it. The kind you can cuddle. Above her are the words:
Be more positive.
Be more patient.
Stop biting nails.
Beneath, written in teenage scrawl: “Believe in yourself. You are awesome! XXX”
I take a glass of wine from beloved and smile. I think I can succeed with those resolutions.
Well, maybe except the one about biting nails.
Words and photograph copyright 2017 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission