Every year we go through the same thing. People want to start anew. People want a new beginning, a “do over”, essentially. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”, or something like that. And this is big business, too. I’d be willing to bet that weight loss programs and gym’s make most of their money in the first three months of the year, just as toy retailers make most of their money the last two months of the year. The “season” drives the rest of the year.
There are probably a dozen or so common resolutions, but we’ll focus on the ‘Big Three’…
- Weight Loss: America is fat… and in the interest of full disclosure, so am I. It stands to reason that people want to be healthy and/or feel better. I get that. But why wait until AFTER the holiday eating season? Wouldn’t it make more sense to start your program on October 1st, instead? Head those extra few pounds off at the pass! I mean, if you’re serious…
- Exercise: Joining a gym. Again, timing, why now? And what, exactly, are you going to do in the gym? Are you a weights person? Elliptical? Team sports? Swimming? Will you be going alone or with a friend or two? Ask these questions first, before you make the commitment… and it is a legal commitment. Referencing payment above, there’s a reason gyms make you sign a contract for a minimum period of time (usually six months), and require auto-deduction from your credit card or bank account. They know that the excitement you feel in January fades by the end of February and is totally done by the end of March. How busy the gym is during these months also says the same thing.
- Quit Smoking: Definitely a laudable goal, and worthy of doing at any time. Quitting smoking is hard (so I have heard, I have never smoked). It is common for people who have been both cigarette smokers and heroin addicts to say that quitting heroin was easier. I would think, though, that timing could be any time of year, not some arbitrary calendar thing. Seems to me that if you’re basing your new lifestyle on a date on the calendar you are bound to fail. You’re doing it on a wish, not because you really want to.
So here I am pointing out other people’s flaws and I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But Ken, have you ever done any of these?”
You bet I have. Back in the early 1990s I joined Weight Watchers (in the spring). I hated it. I like food, I like good food, and good food wasn’t anywhere to be found. But I was determined and stuck to it… until the last day of the first week, a day before my first weigh-in. I ate an entire medium pizza for lunch. And I had still lost eleven pounds that first week, even with the pizza. Wow! In a perverse way that actually motivated me, for awhile. Then I slowly regressed to eventually not doing it at all within a couple months. But, due to my experience, I know for a fact that Weight Watchers works, so should I ever be serious I would go back.
In the early 2000s I joined a local gym. Same reasons. I joined a very nice gym. They had an indoor swimming pool and everything. As mentioned above, I had to sign a six-month minimum commitment. I went twice a week for about four months, then started to slack. I’m not a weight-lifting person, that’s boring. I wasn’t able to commit to team sports like volleyball for time reasons. I did use the pool occasionally, but mostly just used the treadmill and watched tv while I walked. Well shoot, I can walk at home for free, so when my contract was up I canceled.
Anyway, when you decide to do something like this, ask yourself some important questions. Primarily, why now? Are you doing it because you wish you lived better and because you know you should? That’s what ding it based on a calendar date would suggest. or, are you doing it because you’re fed up with your current lifestyle and you know it’s time to change? That’s the real reason and that happens any time of year, albeit not always at your convenience.
If you’re doing it for the right reasons I will support you to the ends of the earth. If you’re doing it because you think you should… I’ll roll my eyes. I won’t say anything to you, but I won’t believe you, either.