January 01, 2008

Resolutions, Shmezolutions

[By Crabby]

Do you make New Year's Resolutions?

In some ways, it seems kind of silly. If there are a bunch of things in your life that need fixing, then why wait until January 1st to fix them? Fix 'em in April! Fix 'em in September! It's not like there's some magical supply of willpower that becomes available one special day each year.

On the other hand, there are goofier cultural traditions than an annual vow to become a better person. (There's kissing strangers under mistletoe, for instance, or encouraging young children to don costumes and hustle candy bars from their neighbors. Oh, and throwing small explosives around to celebrate Independence day, that's a good one).

One positive thing about New Year's resolutions is they're conveniently timed: they follow immediately after a season devoted to overspending, over-eating, and over-imbibing. Having a ritual specially designed to ease guilt and psychologically reverse all the damage done simply by assembling a list of good intentions? Very handy.

(New Years Resolutions are also quite useful if you write a Health and Fitness Blog: no need to think of a topic for New Years Day!)

So here we go: a special Cranky Fitness New Years Resolution Q&A.

1. What are the most common New Year's Resolutions?

Kinda what you'd think: to lose weight and get more exercise.

(Note: link may require registration, sorry).

2. Do New Years Eve Resolutions even work?

Nope, not usually. At least not according to this researcher on procrastination. (And yes, it did take him 10 years to compile his report).

3. Is it better to just pick one thing or tackle a bunch of changes all at once?

Well, one would think One Thing, and professionals often give this advice. (Like here or here, for instance, and about 1700 other places).

But this recent study said just the opposite: do a bunch of things at once! People who were trying to quite smoking, get more exercise, and reduce the salt in their diet did better when they went after all their bad habits at the same time.

Go figure!

This seems counter-intuitive, especially for people who are already juggling a boatload of other demands and who try, all year, to do their best, but--whatever.

(And if you want some suggestions for a resolution list that has Multiple Things on it but is not at all unreasonable, Martha over at That's Fit has a good one.)

4. So then what is the Cranky Fitness Official Position on the Advisability of New Year's Resolutions? For or Against?

The Crabby half of Cranky Fitness is Firmly Against tyrannical, hard-assed resolution lists. (And the other half probably is too but Mary's off doing important things right now and can't be consulted).

Those "aspirational" impossible "aim-high" lists make most people just feel like weak-willed losers when they can't even get close.

But combining a period of reflection, a thoughtful consideration of priorities, and a short realistic list of good intentions? That's not necessarily a bad idea.

Here's an alternative, though:

How about an Old Year's Resolutions List?

5. What The Hell are Old Year's Resolutions?

It's a list of all the things you were working on last year and intend to keep doing. New Years doesn't come in a vacuum, and if you're here reading a health and fitness blog, there's a good chance you weren't just sitting on your ass eating Domino's Oreo dessert pizzas for all of 2007.

Make sure you pat yourself on the back for every accomplishment you can remember from last year. Did you start running, quit smoking, cut back on sugar, eat more vegetables last year? Did you snap less at your spouse or get better at recycling or figure out how to get an extra half hour of sleep an night? Hooray for you!

And if you want to think ahead on how you might want to build on that; that's cool too. But small accomplishments under your belt beat grandiose promises for the future. Celebrate your past success and plan on having more of it in 2008!

6. But I don't want an Old Year's List, I want a New Years one. Don't you have any helpful suggestions for what to put on it?

All right, here's one. Stephanie from Back in Skinny Jeans was running a series of inspirational quotes over the holidays, and we'll steal one here. This, from Judy Garland:

"Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else."

Perhaps that will be the Official Cranky Fitness New Years Resolution Recommendation for 2008.

Are any of you doing the New Year's Resolution thing this year?


  1. Happy New Year, Crabby.

    My New Year's Resolution is to tell more people to go to Hell and to do it more often.
    I'm not being facetious. I mean this absolutely literally and as Dog is my witness it's for health reasons.
    Politely put, I won't be accepting any more nonsense from anyone, but "go to Hell" is how it'll play out unless I'm really, really torqued about something.
    I am confident I can keep this one.

  2. That's a great one Leah! And it's so nice to see you back blogging again.

  3. This year, January 1 happens to come at a time when I really need to (and want to) get myself back on track, and actually to STAY on the track. I feel like such a follower doing it this month - it's so unoriginal! - but I need to do it, January or no. Not that this resolution hasn't been made in Marches and Augusts and Septembers before. Sigh.

  4. The Bag Lady's resolution is to break her first resolution as quickly as possible --mission accomplished! So now she can relax back into her slothful ways. Whew, that was a tough one to keep - took almost an hour...

  5. I resolve that this time next year, I will be AT my ideal weight. (Only 20-25 pounds to go.)

    Corollary: After dieting and exercising for almost two years, whatever weight I'm at next year probably will be the weight my body "wants" to be at.

  6. Generally, I don't make New Year's resolutions. September always seems to be the new year for me; the kids really seem a year older because they are either up a grade or now out of school, summer vacations are oever and so on.

    This year, I have to make an exception though. On my helpmyhurt.com blog, the health and science group is doing resolutions on Jan. 3. Should I reveal them here....? ;-)

  7. PS - Crabby, I saw your comment on my blog - maybe we should make a resolution to check with each other before using stories. LOL

    Actually, that gave me an idea. When you do use that piece, let me know - if I haven't seen it already - and I'll mention.

  8. But... if I resolve not to make any NY resolutions, aren't I making a resolution anyway? Oh, this is too confusing. I'm going to go back to studying geography for awhile.

  9. I made the resolution years ago not to ever make another NY resolution. That is the only resolution I have ever kept!

    Leah's is great, but I already do that fairly often, so I'll just have to tell people it is for health reasons now!

  10. jaime, good luck with the january resolutions--stayin' on track is a tough one!

    And good job bag lady, an hour is pretty impressive for the first broken resolution.

    Chickengirl, I love the corollary, that makes so much sense!

    And Marijke, I think it'll be Wednesday but I'll let you know. And fall does sort of seem more like the beginning of a new year to me too.

    And hi Mary! You could just resolve not to resolve not to make any NY resolutions--perfectly simple.

  11. Reb, good for you for not breaking the resolution that you don't make!

  12. Last year I made a New Year's Resolution that I was a big hit. I was totally successful and thus very proud of myself. It was "to remember to give my kids their flouride drops before bed." We got in the habit, my kid's teeth are hopefully a little healthier and I feel like I actually did something I was going to do. So I usually tend to make ONE New Year's resolution that is ridiculously easy and well within reach. Like you said, the other big stuff I try to work on all year. I had set some fitness goals in the middle of December, no sense in re-making them just because it's january first.

    However I do like the whole reflective re-prioritization (is that even a word?) mode that everyone -including me- gets into this time of year.
    I'm not sure what this year's resolution is going to be. I'm thinking something like, "make sure someone vacuum's the house at least once a week."
    We'll see...

  13. I don't make New Year's resolutions because I feel like anything worth doing is worth doing anytime. A new year is arbitrary, anyway. I declare my own new years as needed.

    Now what's this about an Oreo dessert pizza? Is that for real? I so did not need to read about that!

  14. I am with Bunny Girl. I have been sitting here eating dessert pizza the whole time I have been reading your blog! Now you say I am not supposed to do that! RaTs!

  15. Happy New Year! I actually am making resolutions this year. In the past I have always made a few each year and then end up keeping one of them (most of the time) Then I just carry the ones I didn't keep over to the next year. So far, "losing weight" is all pumped up for it's 5th year in the game. Maybe 2008 is the year. :) I love the Old Year's Resolutions. I'm all over that.

  16. I like your take on resolutions, especially the "Old Years Resolutions" part. :)

    Happy 2008!

  17. Happy New Year to you all, by the way!

    And Katieo--ugh, vacuuming, I hate it. Maybe you could resolve to care less about dirty floors? That's my theory anyway.

    Bunnygirl, yes Dominos now sells an oreo dessert pizza, and it even appeared on some public opinion list as a best new product of the year.

    Oh my goodness Holly--is it any good? Is it THE oreo dessert pizza or is it some sort of home made classier version? (And I somehow doubt you've been scarfing those things all year.)

    And happy new year Cara and Zandria! And Cara,I think recycling new years resolutions for the next year saves time and makes a lot of sense. Plus it sounds kind of Green and socially responsible.

  18. ok, I'm back. I just read my comment over and realized I said, "Last year I made a New Year's Resolution that I was a big hit." I didn't mean to say that my resolution last year was to BE a big hit, the resolution was the hit, lol.

  19. ok sorry, not aaron (as usual), it's katieo

  20. Maybe you could resolve to care less about dirty floors? no no no no. My apathy for a dirty floor has reach an all time low. Time to do something about it.

  21. Hi Crabby,

    I seriously don't think you are able to write a dud or boring post. You're a doll! I'm digging on your Old Years Resolutions and may toy with that notion on my blog...giving you full credit, natch.

    Happy '08!

  22. Since I am a cat, I have no resolutions, as I am fabulous as is.

    Karen normally has resolutions. This year she told me she was too busy for resolutions.



  23. hey there! Just found your blog today. I am glad that there is another one out there. I love knowing that I have partners in crime out there.
    I blog on here too......
    thanks for being you!

  24. Love the old new years resolution idea. after all why make new ones when the old ones might still do...

    myself i've gone with some evergreen resolutions that flow through from year to year.

    Happy new year from your friends at Healthbolt


  25. Thick Chick, that's so sweet! (But just spend a few minutes in the archives & you may think again about the whole 'no dull posts' thing!) And yeah, Cranky Fitness is always greedy for any mention of itself. (And we're fully onboard with borrowing post ideas as we're stealing one wholesale from Kiwiwriter and running it this week).

    Penelope, I agree, cats do not need resolutions as they are pretty much perfect as is. Humans, on the other hand...

    jaime, thanks! It's fun to discover how many great folks are out there in blogland, isn't it?

    And hiya Kiwiwriter! Thanks for posting during the holidays so I can steal, er, learn so much from you folks.

  26. No New Year's resolutions for me! I rock every year! ;)

    I'm gonna keep doing what I'm doing. If anything, I'm gonna cut myself some slack, live life and enjoy every second I can!

    I've got some livin' to do, Crabby! lol

  27. Autumn is it for me, as well. It seems like a time of renewal, especially as the kids go off to a new class. And, hey, Rosh Hashanna, the Jewish new year is in September. Maybe we should make resolutions then,lol!

  28. I think I'm going to tell people to go to hell for Leah's health too. Thanks Leah!

    Happy New Year, all. ;)

  29. Reflection and thoughtful goal-setting are good; self-recrimination that seems to come often with NY resolutions is bad. No yearly resolutions for me.

  30. Great post! And yay! I'm glad to read that you don't like hard core resolution lists, either.

  31. So this may be brief, I'm back in the van on the road to home to CA, and we're parked outside a hotel hijacking their wireless. (It's a hilton, I can't believe their connection wasn't secured! )

    Glam, what an awesome attitude, I love it!

    Azusmom, I'm with you--September resolutions sound like a nice refreshing change from January ones.

    And Hilary--what a great idea. "Go do hell--for Leah's health." I'm tempted to give that one a try myself.

    Welcome, Sally!
    And I agree about the self-recrimination--it's too easy to get into that mode if you start off with a bunch of lofty goals doomed to failure.

    And hiya Soapbox girl and Happy New Year! (And it't true, I don't tend to be hardcore about anything!)

  32. I've made some New Year's resolutions, but basically they're to keep on doing what I'm going right and work on improving where I need to improve -- and that goes for all year, not just January.

    But I do have a list of writing goals I want to achieve in 2008 -- I'm going to be a busy gal this year, but that's the way I like it!:)

    Health and fitness-wise, I'm doing better than I have in a long time. Hubby and I started hiking in the woods regularly a few months ago, and it's working wonders for both of us, on all conceivable levels. You can't beat exercise, adventure, and connecting with nature all in one fell swoop!

    Happy New Year to you! I hope 2008 is your best year yet. :)

  33. Hi Crabby, happy to help out with article ideas...can't wait to see which one you have up your sleeve.



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