Joeblade

Fat January

January is the most miserable month of the year. It’s dark when you leave for work and it’s dark when you leave for home. It’s properly cold, and not the bullshit December cold where it never drops below 13C, but serious, gale-force windchill cold with sleet, rain, and snow. You don’t have any money because you got your last salary on December 20th and you’ve already spent it because you’re terrible at managing your own finances. There’s nothing to look forward to in January except the end of January.

Despite all of that, despite being literally in the middle of winter, at the coldest, most joyless time of the year, people keep choosing January to be their month of giving up all of their happiest things: good food, alcohol, and fat. People join gyms and go jogging. They stop eating junk food and swear off chocolate and make all these solemn vows to treat their body as a temple, punishing themselves for the three days in December they spent drinking champagne for breakfast and eating Christmas cake for dinner. They detox and purge themselves in grotesque, self-flagellating spectacles of piety, some giving up food entirely and instead consuming weird, alien protein shakes and powdered food products such as ‘Joylent’, which gives you everything the body needs at the cost of a crippling, souring, gnawing hunger.

The worst of it all is ‘Dry January’; if terrible Christmas music is the sound of December then the sound of January is people in the office saying they’re “doing Dry January”, which involves pledging to not drink any alcohol for the whole of January and also to tell five people a day that you’re ‘doing Dry January’, and to constantly moan about how you really feel like a drink but you can’t because you’re ‘doing Dry January’.

Fuck ‘doing Dry January’; I’m doing ‘Fat January’. The goal of Fat January is to have gained a solid 12 kilos of weight by February 1st, and not as muscle but as warm, creamy, insulating fat. This is no time to be dieting or worrying about my complexion, it’s the dead of winter: the body cries out for heavy food, blankets and books. The only cooking I’m doing involves goulash, bolognese and chilli, anything that can be simply chucked in an oven for an hour and used as a delivery mechanism for pasta, baked potatoes, cheese and soured cream. I’m keeping one jar of peanut butter and one jar of Nutella by each end of my sofa and right next to my bed and I carry a spoon around my neck on a chain at all times.

I’m mainlining hot, dark chocolate and drinking whisky every evening as the wind batters my crappy, single-glazed sash windows. As the rain lashes down I’m watching back-to-back episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a box of chocolates to one side and a glass of wine to the other. I wear a thick jumper and glance out at mournful joggers battling the elements in Thinsulateā„¢ wrappings as I pop sugared almonds in my mouth by the fistful and waste my hours playing PokĆ©mon Blue.

Throughout Fat January I remain as motionless as possible to avoid accidental exercise. I won’t be going on any bracing countryside walks; everything’s grey and desolate and the entire ground is a frozen trip hazard. Staying warm is critical: I bury myself under as many blankets as my body can support and don’t lose any calories through shivering. Four and a half weeks of this and it’s February, and the weather starts to warm and the days get a bit brighter, and I can crawl from my cocoon of over-indulgence and suffocating duvets fatter, slower and with a sickly, spotty pallor but fundamentally, I think, a winner.

By Paul Haine, in