John Arnold: Don’t mock, but I’ve begun the 100-Day exercise challenge...

John Arnold has vowedd to shed some pounds and improve his general fitness by undertaking a 100-day exercise challenge
John Arnold: Don’t mock, but I’ve begun the 100-Day exercise challenge...

STRIDING OUT: John Arnold says farmers do walk a lot, but he feels he needs to do more meaningful, vigorous exercise

A VERY Happy New Year to all readers at home and abroad.

The closing of any year and the dawning of a new one marks the passage of time, and that inescapable reality that time and tide wait for no man - or woman either for that matter!

That old saying is, I suppose, meant just to gently remind us that it’s up to everyone to make things happen in our lives.

In other words, procrastination (putting off ’til tomorrow what can be done today) is not a realistic option for anyone.

Don’t get me wrong now, I’m as guilty as the next person of postponing bits of work and writing. I know that during the long, hot days of the summer, I should have cleaned out the hayshed to prepare for the autumn housing of animals. Yet it was November before I actually completed the task - and the weanlings anxious to be in from the wet and the cold.

Some people are just brilliant - so meticulous and ordered with everything in place and a place for everything. Not me, unfortunately, things do be tri na cheile with me often.

Like last Monday, in order to do some repair work I needed the step-ladder. High up nor low down could I find the yoke.

I was advised to ‘retrace my steps -when and where had you it last?’ -wise words well spoken, and sure enough it came to me. We were using it above at the Village Hall to change a bulb and I left it in the back of a neighbour’s Jeep - at least it’s safe there!

Another thing I’d not be great at would be New Year resolutions. Making them, not a bother, but keeping them, wisha God help us, only brutal.

One ‘resolution’ I have resolutely kept however causes me no problems whatsoever. Maybe it’s because I myself am not any way skilled in the terpsichorean arts, in other words I can’t put one foot in front of the other on a dance floor, so the idea of sitting, staring and watching others dance never appealed to me.

When Dancing With The Stars first appeared on Irish television maybe five or six years ago, I swore an oath that I would never subject myself to such hideous mental torture, and several years on I’m glad to confirm I’ve not watched one episode.

It’s not with pride or arrogance or a ‘holier than thou’ attitude that I keep my resolve intact. Swinging scantily clad girls all over the place -ah, leave me alone will ye! No interest and less patience, I suppose - but sure it takes all kinds to make up this world we live in.

At this season of goodwill, less eating and measuring waistlines, I needed some impetus or injection of willpower to make me take action.

It’s nearly two years since a doctor in the City of Cork removed a substantial swelling from my wallet in return for much sought after medical advice. The message was clear then - and clearer now - that ‘you’ll have to reduce your body mass’.

So this New Year I’ve adopted a different strategy - one I read of somewhere. Instead of being fixated with standing on the bathroom scales in my birthday suit a couple of times a week, watching the needle wildly fluctuating between 14 and 15 stone, I’ve put away the scales altogether.

You see, on Monday last I started the 100 Days challenge. Trying to get at least half an hour’s exercise each day for 100 days is no small challenge.

Someone said to me recently, ‘Sure, in farming you’re walking miles every day’. A true enough statement and I accept if I got one of the Fit Bit things to record my daily steps, I would indeed get a high reading.

Those casual or working steps are grand as far as they go, but I know I need more. To make exercise really meaningful, it has to be fairy vigorous.

Lads, my level of unfitness became crystal clear to me on Monday night! Thirty minutes of walking - up to Bartlemy Cross and back - was my starting point and I was puffing after it to be honest.

So, from Monday, January 2 until Wednesday, April 12 - the second last day of Passover - is 100 days. That’s the target set for this New Year in order to shed some pounds and improve my general fitness.

For years maybe I convinced myself that I had ‘heavy bone’ and heavy muscle too - excuses to legitimise inactivity of a physical nature. Talk (and writing also) is cheap, but action needs to be taken and I have to start somewhere.

I often wonder, when one doesn’t drink or smoke does it kind of grant extra liberties to be taken in food consumption? Not being a nutritional expert, and not having studied such lofty matters, I must plead ignorance on that count.

When I outlined my ‘new me fitness regime’ to a friend at the weekend, he was wondering about my appetite? His thinking was the more I walk and exercise, the bigger an appetite I’ll have.

The jury is out on that dietary issue - at least for a few weeks. Easy for him to talk knowingly on the matter and he as thin as a whippet - the likes of him wouldn’t put on weight if they ate the quarter sessions three times a day!

This ‘friend’ also tried to explain the concept of ‘middle age spread’ to me, saying it was only natural that, with advancing years, putting on weight is inevitable and ‘no point trying to hold back the sea’.

His theory was that exercise and keeping back from the table are a pure waste of time and energy which could be spent in more productive pastimes.

‘Like what?’ says I - hoping he wouldn’t reply ‘Watching Dancing With The Stars’! but no, he said I’d meet interesting people if I joined a gym or did yoga. Not really lacking in terms of ‘interesting people’, we parted as I set off on Day No.2 of 100.

The second night was a bit easier, but not much. Then they say no pain, no gain.

I’m not expecting miracles or turning into a svelte, movie star type, but hope springs eternal and I’m determined to give it a go - once more.

As our thoughts of 2022 fade into the pages of ‘The Past’, I just want to wish everyone I know a Very Happy New Year.

If 2022 was good for you, then may this year be even better

If 2022 was a sad or tough year, my hope for 2023 is that it will bring better times; more joy, peace, friendship and happiness.

To all those we lost in 2022 - thanks for helping us along the path of life.

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