Like millions of other Americans, I usually ring in the New Year by reflecting on the year gone by and dreaming about the year to come. And like millions of other Americans, I usually resolve to make a few changes in my life in order to make the coming year better than the departing one–and by the end of January (if not weeks earlier), I have thrown those resolutions into the wind.
But this year is going to be different. This year I’m going to make only one resolution, and this year I’m going to stick to it. Seriously. I promise.
According to the “experts,” there are just a few simple steps necessary for making and keeping a New Year’s resolution (which begs the question, “If it’s so simple, why aren’t more of us achieving that success?”). Here is a compilation of some of their simple suggestions:
- Set a goal. Make it realistic and specific.
- Make a plan. Include short-term and long-term, achievable outcomes.
- Write it all down.
- Enlist support. Tell everyone, and consider even putting money on the line.
- Visualize yourself achieving your goal; “fake it until you make it.”
- Write a letter to your future self, congratulating yourself for achieving your goal.
Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Should be a piece of cake. So what’s my resolution? Are you ready? It’s pretty original …
Nah, just kidding. My resolution is the same one I’ve had for the last several years, but this year is going to be different (seriously … I promise) because this year I’m going to follow the advice of the experts.
My goal? Quite simply, I am going to lose weight–to be specific, I’m going to lose 20 pounds. That’s right, I said it. My body is a temple, and I’ve been defiling the temple for way too long. I’m going to walk by the Ding Dong display near the grocery store check-outs, and I’m going to look the other way (oh, you evil marketing people, you know exactly what you’re doing, don’t you?!) I’m going to pass on the McDonald’s french fries and the Hershey’s chocolate (and the Ghirardelli and the Nestle’s and the Lindt) and fill my soon-to-be shrinking belly with more pineapple and strawberries and kiwi and mangoes. I’m going to eat more carrots and broccoli and less nachos and bread. (A tiny tear just dribbled from my eye at the mention of my beloved bread; I will allow myself one good cry over its sad farewell and then put an end to the pity party.)
And 20 pounds is a realistic goal, don’t you think? I mean, I could have resolved to weigh what my driver’s license says, and I even considered that as a goal–until I pulled out my license and realized that weight pre-dates all three of my children, my marriage, and my college graduation. (Is it a crime to lie about your weight on your license? I’m really surprised that not one of the law enforcement officials whose acquaintance I’ve made over the years–not one!–has studied my license and then laughed in my face! It is a credit to their professionalism, to be sure.)
So 20 pounds it is. Let’s say my short-term goal is to lose a mere 2 pounds a month; surely that is attainable. I will make this happen by not only improving my food choices but also by exerting a little more energy in my daily life. I didn’t get that personal trainer I was hoping to find under my Christmas tree, so I’m going to have to do this on my own, but hard can it be? I have an exercise bike in my bedroom; I will dust it off and transfer the coats hanging from its handlebars to the coat rack that was designed for just that purpose. And I have a weight bench that I used to enjoy using; I will enjoy it again. I will feel the burn, and I will like it. I can do this!
And the real difference between this year and all the previous years is that I am putting my resolution in writing for all the world to see (or at least a couple hundred of its inhabitants, anyway). Sure, I want to look better in my jeans, feel better in my bones, and be healthier all around, but public humiliation may be the best motivation of all. There are people reading this who will see me every day and will know if I’m making progress. If I’m being lazy, the proof will be wiggling, jiggling, and flapping right there in front of them. These people are my support group, and they have my permission to quiz me at will and even point and snicker and say, “Hey, your butt is just as big as it was in 2010! Get busy!”
As for “putting money on the line,” I have written myself a rather large check (by my standards) that can be cashed only after I achieve my goal. I will earmark this money for a new wardrobe, with the stipulation that at least one outfit has to be “drop-dead sexy” and none of the new clothes can look anything like what a school principal would wear. I am also stipulating that if I don’t achieve my goal, I will sign over my check to the Sarah Palin for President campaign fund. Failure is not an option.
The visualization part is easy. I am taking pictures of my least favorite body parts (intentionally blurry, but still …) and strategically placing them around the house so that I can be reminded daily of what I have let myself become through 20 years of neglect. Every time I open the refrigerator door, I will see a close-up of that double chin, and I will put the cheese dip back on the shelf. The photo of the flabby forearms will be hanging from the weight bench to reinforce the importance (and joy) of bicep curls. And in addition to the photographic reminders of what is, every day I will close my eyes and visualize what will be. I will see my new, toned body walking the beaches of Cabo San Lucas, and I will see George Clooney and Brad Pitt watching me walk by from behind their designer sunglasses.
The last piece of advice from the experts was to write a letter to your future self, so here goes:
Dear Future Self:
You did it, you did it, you did it! I’m so proud of you! You are one smokin’ hot 50-something mama, and Betty White ain’t got nothin’ on you, girl! You deserve to be rewarded for your efforts–there’s a whole bag of Ghirardelli chocolates (with caramel!) hiding in the back of your underwear drawer. Enjoy!
And to all of you, I hope your New Year is just as successful and wonderful as mine is going to be!