Oh, man. Here we go again. A new year, meaning we’re about to make another butt-load of New Year’s Revolutions.
“Stallard, you idiot,” I can hear you say. “It’s ‘resolutions.’”
No ma’am or sir. Not the way I do ’em.
Any big promise I make myself this time of year is going to boomerang right back around to where I started. Lose a few pounds? Sure. Sounds great. Two ways to do it, right? Exercise and diet.
I’ll start a workout program right after — OK, maybe a few days after — all the junk food I’m gonna scarf down watching New Year’s Day bowl games. Those chips and dip would get their little feelings hurt if I ignored ’em. And now that they’ve extended the college football bowl season an extra week, that means I can procrastinate even longer. When I finally drag my lazy carcass off the couch, out of my pajamas and into my running shoes, I have every intention of qualifying for a triathlon while making Arnold Schwarzenegger look puny.
Then that second day of the workout arrives, and I’m thinking I’m in perfect shape. Hey, round is a shape, right? If my workout happens to last long enough to drop a couple of pounds, those pounds are coming right back like in-laws who left a casserole plate after Christmas dinner.
Dieting? Like Garfield the cat once said, “Diet is just ‘die’ with a ‘t’.” He’s my hero. I have every sort of excuse imaginable when it comes to my failures in decreasing my grub intake.
First, there’s my schedule. I don’t have time for a healthy, balanced eat-three-small-meals-a-day sort of meal plan. I work some late hours, so I can’t deal with anything but coffee first thing in the morning. I sometimes work through lunch, so if I do eat anything, it’s got a drive-thru wrapper around it. Dinner? Depends on whether I’m off that night. I love my wife’s cooking, and she’s doing her very best to keep me healthy, but unless she can find a way to deliver it to the sideline or dugout somewhere, I ain’t gonna get it every day.
Those are some pretty lame excuses designed to disguise my real reason for not developing healthier eating habits.
The real reason?
I like eating. Anything. Everything, especially if it’s bad for me. If you serve me a healthy meal of fish and brown rice, I’m gonna slap a slice of pizza on it when you’re not looking. With extra cheese.
Grilled chicken with veggies? Sure and thank you. I’ll squeeze it all between the buns of my double-meat cheeseburger. Add extra gravy.
Since the FDA has deemed everything I like both unhealthy and just dying to kill me, I’ve given up. So when there came a recall for romaine lettuce last year, I did my happy dance in front of my wife.
“See!” I yelled in celebration. “Even salad’s out to get me! Pass me another slice of that pepperoni!”
Nor does my family understand that I don’t eat for the same reasons they do.
“You’re having another plate?” they’ll ask sweetly. “Did you not get full enough?”
Girl, you don’t get it. I don’t eat to get full. I eat for fun.
My other New Year’s Revolutions are about the same as I see from other people. Saving money? Sounds great. I’ll start stashing a little extra back in my savings account, but within a few weeks I’m making another withdrawal. Those sales on fishing gear are TODAY ONLY! (Every day.) Very soon, I’m back to the same bank balance with which I started.
Decrease my stress? (Excuse my laughing fit.) Anyone who works or raises a family is going to deal with stress. Which do we eliminate? Our jobs or our kids? Our stress-free plan makes it about as long as that last piece of pizza.
We’re stuck riding the same poor pony on the same loud carousel. We’re doomed to end up right back where we started.
So many promises we make ourselves, as if we’re politicians stumping for votes from the same person staring back at us from the mirror. We’re going to quit smoking or drinking. (Heck, I managed to give up my back-porch cigars a couple of years ago. I wasn’t happy about it, but I did it. That may have been the only resolution I’ve kept in 100 years.) We’re going to do a better job of dealing with stress. We’re going to spend more time with family and friends. On and on and on with the vows ...
Inevitably, we’ll end up right back where we began in yet more episodes of busted expectations. The wheels on the busts go ’round and ’round.
Maybe part of the problem lies in the way we’re constantly finding fault with ourselves. Ever think of it that way? We’re pretty good at pointing out our own imperfections, whether those are physical or just habitual. We want to change. We want to do better.
When better to start than with a new year? Hey, this is gonna be the year. I’m going to lose 50 pounds, I’m going to run a 5K, I’m going to have extra zeroes behind the numbers in my savings account.
I’m going to be a better me.
Here’s some hard-earned, old-dude advice for you: First of all, you’re pretty awesome just the way you are. You’re probably the only one in the world who sees any need whatsoever for change. Your friends and family probably have no idea you think you need to lose — or lift — more weight. A whole lot of them are wondering how in the world someone as perfect as you landed in their lives.
Your worst critic will always be you.
What I’ve learned (finally) is that with every new year, I just sort of renew a vow I began making myself a long time ago. It’s too late for a “new me,” so I choose to try and be the very best version of me I can be. Since I’ve already memorized all my faults and shortcomings, I don’t need to remind myself by making empty promises to change. You know — old dog, new tricks. It ain’t happening. “I yam what I yam,” as Popeye would say.
Just be yourself. Your best self, whatever that happens to be. We might be selves whose jeans are still a little too snug, or selves who tend to dabble in the occasional vices, or even selves who still sweat out the last few days before payday.
So what? Give yourself a break. We can still be happy dudes and dudettes out here just being the best at whoever we are. Some days we’ll be great, and other days we’ll struggle. We’re human.
I might start using the treadmill again. Then again, it’s pretty handy for holding those two pairs of jeans and 37 T-shirts. I might pay a little more attention to what I eat. (Probably not.) Maybe I’ll stop buying fishing gear just because it’s on sale so I can save a little money.
I’m not promising myself anything. No New Year’s Revolutions for this guy. Why put any extra pressure on myself?
I hope you have a great next 366 days — we even get an extra day this year to be awesome. So may this be the year you realize you don’t need as many changes as you thought, and that you’re a pretty great example of a human just the way you are.
And I hope next year finds you still right here in your happy-with-yourself spot.
That would be a perfect revolution.
Happy New Year.