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.
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?