Well, well! Wellness trumps dry January

No dry January or Veganuary for me! This boy knows what contributes to his wellness.

You’ve heard and read all the usual advice on detoxing after the Christmas binge. You may have decided to go dry for the month: you might even have forsworn meat, fish and dairy and joined the Veganuary movement (spoiler alert: I’ve done neither). But such feeble efforts won’t suffice. Now we’ve been told what must be done: embrace wellness and change our lives, root and branch.

Last Saturday’s Times Magazine featured the frankly bizarre regimes of several right-on wellness freaks under the headline, Have you joined the cult of wellness? They have.

They surely have. As the subheading put it: “Once wellness meant not being ill. Now it’s a lifestyle choice and devotees take ever more extreme measures in pursuit of optimum health.”

And how! One, a male model, fills in a daily spreadsheet with details of how long and how well he’s slept, his weight, his hydration (whatever that means) and his urine PH. Another subject has cut down his 10am intake of supplements from 30 to 15. It was a relief to learn that both drink coffee while following these rituals.

Still another takes “an activated charcoal shot between work meetings and apple cider vinegar tablets before meals”. With such abstruse diets, supplements, two trips a day to the gym, special glasses to filter out blue light, a hyperbaric oxygen chamber (what?) and, in one case, a Himalayan salt lamp puffing away at night, their regimes make a boot camp look a soft touch by comparison: the price of achieving “wellness” looks to me like a life of misery.

Indeed, isn’t the subjects’ obsession with wellness, well, somewhat contrary to their wellbeing?

Not in their opinion, I guess: though I’d hate to live their lives as described by Times reporter Jessie Hewitson. But, then, I’m not a fan of crash diets or over-the-top January detoxes.

Please don’t think I’m one of those puritanical types who never overdo the eating or drinking, even at Yuletide. No, our Christmas was marked as usual by family, friendship and frivolity, fulsomely facilitated by fantastic festive fare. Fezziwig, Dickens’s model host of seasonal celebrations would have been proud of us. And, yes, by Twelfth Night, I had cheerfully piled on the avoirdupois.

As a result, the last week or so has been characterised by a fair degree of strong-minded moderation. But that’s all it is: no starving, no misery. And, with plenty of exercise in the daily routine, I’m already nearly back to my pre-December fighting weight. Of course I’m still overweight. I’m as greedy and weak-willed as the next middle-aged male glutton. But I’m proving that one can gradually chip away at the long-term weight issue by being careful and – the only habit I share with those wellness fanatics – using the scales regularly (nearly every day in my case).

I must be honest here. This is my first January as a retired man and I’ve already learnt how much easier it is to be careful about food and booze intake, even planning both thin and dry days, when you’re not holding down a busy job. How can those wellness gurus do all that health stuff and make a living? Do their partners do the same? When I was working, the busier I got, the fatter I became. And as for those working lunches…

So you’ll gather that I’m not having a dry January. Nor a Veganuary, come to that: when I give up meat and fish I’ll do so on principle, thank you very much, not to shed the Xmas pounds. I’m with the columnist for the Roman Catholic paper, The Tablet (I’m sorry I can’t remember her name), whose Thunderer piece in The Times deplored abstinence in the coldest, most miserable month: she advised leaving that till the six weeks of Lent. Well, she would, I guess.

No, I’ll hold out for moderation. I know I won’t entirely succeed. I may not live to be 100: but then, if to do so requires the life of a wellness freak, who’d want to?


  1. Good article. I can relate.
    For your next column (I read yours almost as much as Banks’), you might want to discuss the advantages of a not-too-expensive single malt, and biscuits to enjoy living to a ripe old age.
    Leave that vegan stuff to the fans.


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