It’s that time again! Time to undo all the damage done over the past three months, where since Halloween we’ve done nothing but overeat, overindulge, and overspend. But that’s all about to change because the New Year is here. And this year we’re going to stick to those resolutions, lose that weight, write that novel, and pay down that credit card debt.
And for about a month or two we will. We’ll drop a few pounds, write a couple pages, and make some extra payments - but by the time we start getting used to putting the correct date on our checks, we’ll have lost our resolve. Which makes sense since “resolve” comes from the Latin resolvere, meaning “to untie” so things were doomed to come undone from the start. Yet we continue to begin each year by making (and breaking) the same old resolutions, and I think it’s about time we stop.
Now I’m not advocating giving up, I’m just discouraging this practice of waiting for the “right time” to make a change. I’m sure there are some of you out there who decided way back in June to look for a better job, or quit smoking, or make amends with your mother, but instead of doing anything about it then, you figured it best to wait until January, you know, to get a fresh start. But all you really did was give your problems a head start, and now you’re going to have to work twice as hard to catch up.
If what you see in the mirror on Thursday morning is unappealing, why wait until Monday to start working on it? If you just hacked up your left lung, why finish the pack before you quit smoking? When your house is a mess, do you invite the neighbor’s incontinent dog in to make it really good and dirty before cleaning it up? Of course not, that would be making more work for your self. Yet for some reason, we feel it best to put an end to our bad habits only after binging on them first.
So stop making resolutions and start finding solutions. I know many of you use New Years as a way to jump start your diets, so I’m willing to make a little deal. If you agree to join me in my revolution against resolutions, I’ll let you in on one of my fool-proof diet tips ( and since I recognize the irony in pledging to not make pledges, I will consider any reading past this point as proof of your compliance.) Great. Good to have you aboard. Here, as promised, is your tip (and while it may focus on dieting, it can also be applied to smoking, drinking, and so on.)
For me, the hardest part about dieting has always been will power, in that I have none. My first attempt at overcoming this was to make little penalties for myself. One was that for every “unnecessary” calorie I ate, I would have to work it off on the stationary bike (at a rate of about 10 calories per minute). So thirty seconds spent with a pack of Twinkies meant over half an hour sweating on the bike. This worked for a while, but I soon found there were not enough hours in the day to work off all my indulgences. Punishing myself just wasn’t working. But punishing others might…
Which is how I decided to basically put a curse on my wife by stating aloud that if I ate any candy, chips, or snacky type things during the next three months, something bad would happen to her. Meaning every time I was tempted by a Twinkie, I had to ask myself, would the taste of the creamy filling be worth her getting creamed by a Mack truck? And the answer would always be, “Of course not.”
Using this method, I lost almost twenty pounds. But I also lost a lot of sleep, since every time my wife came home with a headache, I’d be thinking brain tumor, brought on by the darn granola bar I ate for lunch. So use this method carefully. Be sure to set a reasonable time frame – I recommend starting with a month at a time – and whatever you do, do not tie it into any weight loss goals, as time will pass, the pounds may stick around. Also, be very specific as to the foods you can not eat – and be wary of loopholes. Swearing off cookies and cake is a no brainer, but deciding if animal crackers and banana bread are okay may take some thought. A good rule of thumb is if you’re looking forward to eating it, you probably shouldn’t. Finally, I would recommend not sharing this strategy with your significant other – they won’t like it. But they’ll love the results!
So, are you with me? Are you willing to just say no to resolutions and yes to solutions? A wise old woman I used to work for would often ask, “Are you going to fish, or cut bait?” and at the time I had no idea what she meant. But now I do, which is why I referred to her as the wise old woman rather than the crazy old woman, because what she was trying to teach me was that preparing to do something doesn’t mean much until you actually do it. Some people can spend their whole lives getting ready but never get anywhere…get it? Good. Then get going! And have a Happy New Year!