WHOEVER came up with the idea for New Year’s resolutions in January didn’t think it completely through, at least in terms of timing. If the goal is to, say, shed 25 pounds before the beaches are open for swimming, few will ever get started on that monumental goal in the first week of the coldest month of the year, when it’s -28 C outside and delicious beef stews and soul-warming trays of lasagna and perogies tempt.

During a prolonged cold snap, is there a mere mortal on this earth who can take a pass on a second helping? As for a brisk walk: vastly overrated in the dead of winter, unless one enjoys frostbite on the beak, not to mention frozen, fogged up eye-glasses.

This is why the first week of April is so much better to become resolved to lose weight, quit smoking, drink a whole lot less alcohol (or none at all) or eschew all the other bad habits that help send one packing to an early grave.

Come the beginning of April, most sidewalks are clear and you don’t have to dress like you’ve just bought a one-way ticket to Nunavut. Milder temperatures and fresh air kickstart the urge to start something new and shuck off your former, unhealthy self. In mid-January, all one wants to do is hunker down like a black bear.

Even if one agrees that spring is a more opportune time to give the body a break, it’s probably a good idea not to set the bar too high. If you’re in middle-age, like many people who might be reading this, you will probably have to accept that fact that you will never be able to skate as fast as Olympian medalists Katie Weatherston or Eric Radford, or run like frequent Thunder Bay 10-mile event champion Gilbert Kiptoo.

Reality bites, but we get used to it. The trouble is, there seems to be no in-between: it seems as though one is either ultra-fit (a die-hard minority) or a committed couch potato (the vast majority) who cannot imagine him or herself even being close to being in decent shape.

In the 1960s, many NHL hockey teams expected players at training camp to be able to run a mile without stopping and do 20 continuos pushups. This seems pretty milquetoast today, when hyper-fit types portrayed on endless TV shows scale steep cliffs in a blink of an eye, or dead-lift the equivalent of a medium-sized bruin.

Still, it’s not a bad idea to test yourself. A measly 20 pushups may not seem like much, but could you actually drop down to the floor right now and bang out 20 good ones? Or could you walk at a brisk pace for 30 minutes, without feeling so sore afterward that you can barely sit down?

If you can, you’re not Olympian material, but you’re probably in better shape than you thought. If not, the weather outside has never been finer, if you take the hint.

(Originally published April 5, 2019)

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