I was going to lecture on the importance of hanging in there when it comes to self-improvement. Something my old mother calls “stick-to-itiveness.” Then I realized a pudgy, former two-pack-a-day smoker with a checkbook in the red is the last person who should be preaching the virtues of being a better you.
Making positive life changes aren’t easy. If they were, we would all resemble those toothpaste models with the frighteningly white smiles and $600 haircuts.
I’ll never forget the year I vowed to lose weight on the cabbage soup diet. It was only slightly less disgusting than the headcheese diet. For those of you unfamiliar with this sulfurous sauce, cabbage soup is a metabolic food. From the Greek “metabolic” meaning: “tastes so bad we know you won’t eat it.”
After a few weeks of the putrid pottage I began to feel like Oliver Twist. I heard somewhere that more people are afraid of public speaking than death – obviously they never tried cabbage soup.
Ditto goes for the cruel and unusual grapefruit diet, which I hear was recently outlawed by the Geneva Convention.
To my chagrin, the FDA doesn’t recognize lying on the couch as a physical fitness routine.
Though the cardiovascular benefits of screaming at the TV are arguable, workout gurus advise you to get your heart rate up for 30 minutes, three times a week – you’ll know you reached your target somewhere between, “I can’t breathe” and “Oh my god I’m going to die!”
I knew I was out of shape when I pulled a hamstring stepping out of the shower. For those of you who thought I pulled it diving for the game-winning touchdown at the family reunion last year, I was lying.
Giving up cigarettes is another big resolution people like to make. It took a month-long bout with double pneumonia back in spring ’99 to convince me to give up the smoky little darlings.
I wish I could say it was done for something noble such as saving money or preventing cancer, but I simply couldn’t breathe. $1,200 worth of X-rays and assorted pokey-proddie tests later, the doctor said I had the lung capacity of an asthmatic chipmunk. You may remember the cartoon musical trio Alvin, Simon and COPD.
Some people resolve to spend more time with family.
Time with immediate family (Extended family is a completely different beast, yes, “beast.”) is a grand idea.
Ten sweaty-palmed, pulse pounding minutes in the presence of my truck driving, gun toting, ordained minister cousin or the great-aunt who married a convicted murderer who may or may not still be in prison and I remember why I seldom leave town for the family farm. Don’t get me wrong, I love them dearly, but they are best taken in small doses – from great distances.
Learning something new is another popular goal for many.
I’m not saying humans have a finite capacity for attaining knowledge, but this particular resolution makes me nervous. I was 9 when I found my father in the garage hyperventilating over a tear soaked, half assembled bicycle.
He called it holiday stress, but I know the truth.
Upon reading the instruction manual, he forgot how to get back to the house.
Now, I don’t fancy myself a moron (another arguable notion), but I can’t chance forgetting something integral like how to operate the microwave or program the VCR – yes, I still have a VCR.
Getting organized is a great idea for the New Year.
I envy folks with a special spot for everything, whose towels hang on racks and whose refrigerators don’t resemble fight night at the International House of Condiments.
Yes, the moldy applesauce on the third shelf is a biohazard. But, if I pull it out, then where would I be? I might as well grab that hummus leftover from the Carter administration and how about that margarine container of, well, I can’t remember what it was, but should I really risk stinking up the house with some kind of a demented archeological dig?
Besides, I don’t think my frail ego could take seeing just how empty the icebox is after a thorough cleaning.
Perhaps it is simply better to let sleeping dogs lie or, in this case, to let the fuzzy casserole grow.
Resolutions are the cornerstones of self-improvement. But, no amount of cleaning, exercise, diet or thriftiness will ensure fame, fortune or immortality – only self-imposed neuroses.
Just find yourself a happy medium and stick with it.
Hopefully you’ll have better luck than I did.