People on the radio and television are all talking about diets and exercise, and as I made my back to the gym this morning I expected to see lots of newcomers wearing shiny new gym clothes and trainers. But instead I was met with smiles and greetings of 'Happy New Year' from the well-kent faces of the regulars.
18 months ago, I started a pain management programme through the NHS, and one of the things I had to do was make some long term goals. I remember sitting down with one of the course leaders and he asked me what I'd like to see myself being able to do physically.
I laughed and said, 'Well, I'd love to get back to the gym but I know that's never going to happen.'
He looked at me and asked, 'Why not?'
Was he being serious? We'd only just learned about accepting our limits. He'd been teaching me to hoover half a room one day and finish it the next. He'd told me to sit down while I peeled the tatties. And we'd spoken about getting help from my family with simple things like drying my hair (something I found particularly difficult after the accident). And yet, here he was now asking me why I couldn't go to the gym! I was confused...
He sat with me and we made a plan. I was to start by getting dressed in my workout clothes and drive to the gym. No more. And anyone who struggles with physical pain can understand the logic behind this. Very often, putting on clothes can be enough to trigger pain. The next week I was to do a few minutes exercise, and see how I was feeling. The idea was to find my baseline - the amount of time I could exercise without triggering pain. I left the meeting clutching my plan, although, if I'm honest, I wasn't convinced.
My first week at the gym I did 6 minutes on the bike, and I left feeling fine, but the next day my pain hit a ten. Previously, I would have been angry with myself for triggering my pain, and I'd feel low because I wasn't able to do something as simple as ride a bike for 6 minutes. I would have told myself I'd failed.
But I didn't allow myself to feel this way. I just hadn't found my baseline yet.
The next week I returned, paid my fiver and did 4 minutes. It was costing me more than a pund a minute to cycle, but I didn't care. This was about the long haul. I waited the next day to see if my pain was triggered. It wasn't. I'd found my baseline, and with help from the team at the pain management clinic, I stuck to the 4 minutes for several weeks before increasing it to 5.
That all feels a long time ago now, but I'm still using the idea of small goals. I've increased my time on the bike to 20 minutes and I now run/walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes. The staff at the sports centre have been great and I've started to introduce some of the weight machines - just one at a time!
When I logged out this morning I was chuffed to see just how far I've come...
But one of the best things has been meeting a great bunch of inspirational people. Whenever I feel like giving up, I just think of the man I met who is 89, and who goes because it makes him feel good.
Emma Mooney is a writer of Scottish contemporary fiction and is the author of A Beautiful Game. and Wings to Fly.