Joyless January – Survival Hacks

It’s the last day of January! Many of you made it through Joyless January. Congratulations! Many of you fell off the wagon – don’t sweat it. All-out cold turkey is not necessarily a recipe for success. Poco a poco is much more civilized.

Is it me? Or is January a bit of a lackluster shit month? Sorry if this is your birth month – especially since I know lots of cool people born in January. But you January babes got a bad deal. It’s colder and generally grayer than it needs to be. Chances are you’ve been inundated daily with rain or snow. Let’s face it – nobody needs that much precipitation in their life. Also, when you want to celebrate your birthday – the world is on some weird bandwagon.

Joyless January
Joyless January

So hear me out. You’ve come off the decadent high of the Christmas season and have literally Fa-la- la-la-laud your brains out. You ate all the Christmas treats and drank all the Aperol, wine, and Baileys.  January rolls around & you’re a hot bloated mess squeezed into jeans that are now too tight. Your clothes suddenly feel like sausage casing.

You declare war on the pounds and the puffy bloat. You make unfathomable promises to yourself – no bread, no refined sugar, no cheese, no caffeine, and definitely no booze.  You are the person subscribing to the whole new year, new me bullshit. Your body is a temple. 

Does any of this sound vaguely familiar? Well, all of the above is what I signed myself up for this past month. I know crazy, right?

But there was a method to my madness. After spraining my knee at the end of last November – I fell completely out of my sport and exercise routine. No tennis, padel, yoga, pilates, or gym.  I did well to manage some walking. Barely. Skiing was a total bust. But the apres wasn’t. So, I sunk my teeth into all the alpine food (cheese, bread, potatoes, and more cheese!), all the Aperol & all the Jaeger tea. By January, I was mostly recovered from the sprained knee. But now I was having to face the music of my frivolous, sedentary December.

So, I went all in. Total reset for this middle-aged chica.

Let me tell you, it’s been a bit of a journey, and surprisingly not even an entirely joyless one.

What Did I Eat?

I focused on metabolic-boosting foods. No processed foods (no bacon, or sausage). No refined sugars. Lots of lean protein (fish, chicken, eggs, turkey). I did break down once and ate a steak (so good!).  All the leafy green vegetables, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc), and legumes (loads of lentils, white beans, etc). No bread or pasta, and almost no cheese. Let me tell you, life is still better with cheese in it.

I stayed away from rice in favor of quinoa. Rice is actually lower in calories but quinoa is more nutrient-dense and has loads of fiber – which keeps you feeling full. Also, fruit, lots of berries.

Note, I am not purporting to be a nutritionist, dietician, or any form of expert.  This is what made sense to me after a lifetime of trying every diet and fad.  I also used lots of spices – curry, cilantro, cinnamon, mint, garlic, etc (fresh and bottled). As well as loads of lemon and lime infused into my drinks and food.

Bullet Proof
Photo Cred:


With any new eating plan – you have to be prepared. Plus I’m feeding three famished teenage boys. My fridge is always stocked with:

  • Cooked chicken breast
  • Cooked quinoa
  • Cauliflower (riced)
  • Dozens of eggs, including hard-boiled (great snacks)
  • Zoodles (zucchini noodles)
  • Almond milk for smoothies
  • Spinach

I’ve eaten an insane amount of taco bowls, and buddha bowls. Quick and delicious.

Lentil Curry with cauliflower rice
Lentil Curry with Cauliflower Rice
Quinoa, chicken, shrimp with tomatoes, spinach & avocado

What Did I Drink?

  • None of my favorites
  • So much water
  • Tea
  • Smoothies with almond milk (no sugar added)
  • Decaf coffee. Now before you nominate me for sainthood – I gave up caffeine quite a while ago.
Almond milk smoothie with spinach, avocado, and nut butter


Infuse your water with citrus, mint, apples, berries, ginger, etc

Green tea seems to suppress my appetite & is metabolic boosting.

Ha! They call it Joyless January for a reason

Keeping Busy

That’s never a chore for me.  I went back to tennis, padel, yoga, and pilates! Not the gym yet. If I can get the knee totally sorted, I would like to start running again. Facebook reminded me today that I ran a half marathon  12 years ago. Twelve years! That seems like a lifetime ago. Bit ironic. Considering, my reason to get back to running is for the express purpose of participating in an annual run through the Champagne region in France. Anyway, I’m digressing…..!

I switched wine dates to coffee dates and lunch & dinner dates to breakfast dates. I food prepped a lot and played around in the kitchen. Luckily, I like my own cooking. I made delicious lentil curries, turkey chilies, and a wide variety of fish dishes. I enjoyed having to be more inventive in the kitchen way more than I anticipated and impressed myself with some of my random recipes.  Spain is one of those great countries where farm-to-table and sea-to-table can be an easy everyday occurrence. I also don’t live in a city, so no Uber eats and convenience food.

This month I also learned to knit. Badly, I might add. My youngest son has taken it up for a project and I’m trying to be helpful. I don’t think I’m being that helpful.

The Take-away From it All

I can’t tell you if I’ve lost a bunch of weight. Probably some. I don’t weigh myself though. Ever. The scales and I broke up years ago. My clothes aren’t tight and they aren’t falling off me either. It’s also only been a month.

Working out for me has always been about staying strong and fit enough to keep up with my kids. Also because I actually enjoy it. The fight to be thin left me about a decade ago. I generally always eat clean but this last month has been a whole next level of dedication. It’s not that hard, I think I’ll stick to the eating bit. It feels good.

I’m sleeping better and I’m less puffy. My sinuses (my Achilles) are much clearer. I have more energy and my skin seems brighter.

I’ve also started taking collagen. Man, I feel like I’m a 105 writing that. Gawd. I really am middle-aged.  Anyway, the benefits of all that can be best explained by doing your own research. Or by hitting up my friend Stacy, who is a Wellness & Nutritional Consultant.

If you are interested in exploring ways to eat metabolic-rich foods. I recommend this site: Dr. Mark Hyman,  an MD that believes good health is centered around what we eat i.e. food as medicine. He has some good recipes on his site as well. I like his philosophy that food nourishes us on so many levels. Food is a powerful healing agent and our first defense against disease prevention.  Most of us know this but we don’t necessarily put it into practice.

This last month has been a good reminder. At the end of the day (for me) – everything with a little moderation is still all good. It’s the excess, and overindulgence that blurs the lines and causes us to make bad choices. I’ve also found that I don’t crave most of the foods I’ve eliminated and I don’t have any sharp swings in hunger. Keep in mind – I’m someone who really adores food and wine and believe that a life without cheese is some sad dystopian world not really worth living in.  But maybe, after this month, I can find a way to live with less of it.

I’ll keep you all posted.

Love, Kate x

End of Joyless January
Make-up free and no filter. Less puffy me.

P.S. Hit me up if you want some quick and delicious meal ideas.

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11 thoughts on “Joyless January – Survival Hacks

  1. You already know, I love your writing! Thanks for sharing this and always telling the truth….you look amazing and please let’s have some cheese together soon 😘

  2. Oh Kate… you’re really too much!!! Loved reading this one and you’re just an amazing entertainer. You write with amazing energy that comes through the screen and most important so damn honest! What a privilege it is for us to have someone like you in our community. Xxx

    1. Oh Mercedes!

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m so lucky to have such great support within our community. 😘

  3. Have always admired your grit & determination Kate! Great read and sensible advice. Thank you

  4. Great read Kate. As always, you have a gift with words and writing engaging posts! The January wallop certainly hit a little harder this year with us heading back into yet another lockdown and being pummelled by snowmageddon 2022- it’s now February and we are still digging out from all this snow. Would love to get your favourite recipes. I’ll send you a note. Keep your posts coming, I look forward to receiving new ones and always enjoy reading them!

    1. Thank you Cheryl! Missing you Guilfoyles here in España. Can’t believe Jack is 17 today. Craaaaazy! I still marvel at Canada’s inability to manage COVID. Glad it’s opening up again. Finally! Have you subscribed? FB is an unreliable stream. 😘

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