Only in January

The end of the first month of the year is nigh which should mean that it will be easier to find a spot in yoga class and the ellipticals will free up on Saturday morning – I hate it when I get stuck on the one with the fixed arms. Bread might be restocked in Whole Foods since the resolution fad diets will have waned and there will once again be parking available at the regional parks since the new runners will all be home icing their knees. Four weeks into the year and all those promises we made to ourselves start to soften up a little as we face the reality of doing not just talking.

I tend to make resolutions in small bits, not in big sweeping goals at a time of year when I am completely out of the norm of my day-to-day routine. It’s hard to figure out how to change your situation when you are not actively living your situation. It’s like saying, “hey I want to swim in the ocean and drink mai tai’s everyday,” when you are on vacation. That works really well for when you are on vacation but it is harder to execute on successfully when you get home. I have also learned over many years of making and abandoning big resolutions that it is a lot easier, and produces a much greater likelihood of success to make incremental changes that build to a bigger goal. I mean I can lose five pounds in a week but I’m not going to keep that weight off for any real length of time, and neither am I going to build the habits I need to keep myself in the shape I want to be in. Much better to say I am going to go to the gym at least once this week (if I am starting from zero) and rather than having two pieces of chocolate for desert I will only have one. Once I have that down pretty well I can add to it so that what I am doing is building a habit, making a fundamental change in an established way not trying to redefine the structure of my life overnight.

One of my relatives has been going on a diet tomorrow for my entire life, once she even had her jaw wired shut for six months to force her to stop eating (only those things that she could consume through a straw). The weight came off of course. But then it went right back on when the wiring came out. Last I heard she was still very overweight with all the related medical problems. The new plan is plastic surgery because then you would have to be different once it was done. I put the odds of long-term success at very low.

The first Saturday of January I was at the gym, just as I am almost every Saturday and I was upstairs on the treadmill with a nice view of the street below. Across the street from the big, not very fancy gym I go to is a boutique training studio that usually seems pretty quiet. On this Saturday there was a great deal of hustle and bustle about the studio as waves of people who seemed to be on a circuit program would come outside in groups and pull a small tractor tire down the sidewalk and then flip a larger one back the other direction al’a football linebackers. It was raining lightly and I feel confident that many of the people I saw on the street where starting their health routine fresh with the new year. It looked likely that many of them were going to injure their backs this first day out. The following week about a third of the number from the week before were back. Last week when I walked by (on my way to the awesome bakery after my workout) there were two people inside, one of whom was cleaning equipment.

Most of us, most of the time want to do the right thing for ourselves, and even when we know what that it is it is still hard to do. Last year I lost four pounds doing nothing more than going to the gym more often. This year I want to lose five so I have to think about some of my food choices a little. I have started with smaller portions and less chocolate (maybe I should also stop the bakery visits). It is hard especially after the holidays but it isn’t too hard, I’m not shocking my system just slowly bring the water to a boil – that way I won’t jump out.

2 thoughts on “Only in January

    • Wendy – I am sorry to hear that you are unwell. I am guessing that you read only a little of this piece and if that came off as mean-spirited I am certainly sorry. The piece I had hoped was about habit building and long-term change, though sometimes I miss the mark. I am sending thoughts of prayers for healing and strength for you and your family during this difficult time.

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