Well, another arbitrary turn of the calendar has come and gone. Pretty exciting stuff, right?
Don’t get me wrong. I like having any excuse to party that doesn’t require anything beyond having to make it to midnight. Unlike Halloween, no elaborate costumes are required, and unless you plan on going to a black-tie river boat cruise party, basic attire is more than acceptable. I also like any excuse to drink the fizzy bubbly.
Overall, New Year’s is a perfectly fine evening on the calendar, it just suffers from the weight of expectations that will never be met. Once you come to terms with that, it is just any other night of the year, but with the added benefit of that fizzy bubbly. I really like fizzy bubbly.
The biggest unrealistic expectation, of course, is that somehow this arbitrary date is supposed to be the end of the past year of unfulfilled hopes and the start of a brand new year open to a world of possibilities. The likelihood of the next year being markedly different than the previous is pretty slim, but not impossible. It’s the resolutions that people make that cause the whole thing to devolve into some sort of farcical lip service of and to the mind.
People make outrageous or unachievable resolutions on New Year’s and it is certainly no shock when they don’t pan out. That is now what we expect. It’s become so silly that it’s embarrassing to publicly make any sort of life goals in the months of December/January for fear that people will disregard them as unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. How many of you can recall going to your gym in the first week of January only to see it filled with newly resolute strangers who disappear before February?
But is that a bad thing? Probably not. It can be a really harmless thing that we as humans tend to do every year to “reset” ourselves and try and inch our ways a little towards being a bit “better”. If that’s the goal, then by all means, resolve away.
It’s way better when people go about their business quietly and you can see change in their lives. It doesn’t have to be January 1st, but when individuals make decisions to improve themselves and their life, it is a remarkable and beautiful thing.
Last year, around the holiday season, though not explicitly a New Year’s resolution, I decided that I needed to change my lifestyle. I decided that I needed to lose weight, drink less, and eat better. Sounds vaguely like a New Year’s resolution, doesn’t it? It does, but I didn’t make it on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t say it out loud to anyone right away. I just sort of started chipping away (part of it was literally throwing potato chips away) little by little.
I started cutting back on how much alcohol I drank, limiting myself to a six pack of beer per week (usually “treating” myself to something nice like imports or craft brews). I swapped out frozen pizza and heavy carbs in favour of lighter fare, including “superfoods” like chickpeas, blueberries, Balkan yogourt, oats and quinoa, which are all now staples.
And I hit the gym. Oh, how did I hit the gym. Six days a week. No excuses. I would run 5km on the treadmill and I would weight train with low weights, high reps all the major muscle groups.
When I went to Europe, as I’ve written before, I kept up the exercise, kept up the discipline, still managed to enjoy the local fare, but was diligent in making this part of my new life.
It wasn’t a crazy resolution, it was a shift in my life. By the middle of the year, I had lost 40 lbs. Roughly one year after quietly making that decision to take care of myself, I am proud to say I am still 40 lbs lighter. I’m now working on trying to improve my build and muscle tone, trying to cook at home more often and just occasionally, I’ll crack out the fizzy bubbly.