Not Another New Year's Resolution!
The first step is always the hardest. It’s a cliche, of course, but it exists for a reason. Change is hard! We’re changing how we live! And we’re afraid of failing yet again. We try to use a significant date and an announcement to help push us into that new lifestyle, but maybe that’s not the best idea. Other times we try and wait for just the right conditions, but those never seem to align just right. Well, truth be told I’ve never started myself.
It’s such a mental leap for us that we try to mark it with a significant date and an announcement; a way of stepping through a mental threshold into a new reality. We join, probably, millions of people on January 1: “this is going to be the year I do it!” So we tell ourselves. We get the feeling that the date is this threshold that we’re stepping though. Into a new reality for ourselves. One where we eat properly, become more active, and just generally sprout angel’s wings and transcend this earth into heaven and view the rest of struggling masses from on high. So we pick January 1st, a perfectly significant date. Then we announce it as a way to add some accountability for the attempt. You’re stepping through that door and everyone you announced it to is going to guard it to keep you from running back into it.
It’s easy to see why we do this, though. We’re changing just about every aspect of how we live. We’re vowing to give up the things we love! We’re volunteering ourselves for physical pain! We’ve really come to enjoy the things that make us comfortable, and we’re telling ourselves to change all that. How can we ever enjoy this new life? We know the benefits are worth it, but man… how do we get over such an upheaval? Not only that, but it may very well be yet another instance of a failed attempt. You haven’t even started, but you can already see yourself acknowledging that you’ve failed yet again.
So we set a date. We tell everyone our intentions. Jan 1 comes and we step through that threshold… and two weeks later we find ourselves back on the other side. Agh, next year. We’ll do it next year.
Why does this happen? Personally, it’s a kind of no-brainer. For one, we’ve decided to give ourselves a thousand-pound weight to lift without, you know, starting with 10lb weight first. We’re not going to bother with one or two things, we’re going to change it all! On top of that, even if we have the best intentions we’re casting our lot with millions of other people, but in the back of our heads we know that when we fail, we fail along with everyone else. So we’re in good company; the very guards at the door you supposedly closed are nowhere to be found because they’ve gone on back themselves. And on top of that, you’ve just gifted yourself 11 and a half months of bacchanalia until the next attempt (because for some reason we’re only allowed to try once a year?). Your resolution was made in a roving mob and no one heard it because it just added to the noise. No one will notice when you slink back through that door. Besides, those who do notice sure ain't going to call you on it because of their own personal shame.
If resolutions don’t work what else can you try? One thing I told myself was that because I was so big, needing to lose waaaay more than 20 or 30 lbs, that this meant I would need medical intervention. I was waiting for the right conditions. I was going to save up my money and get my stomach stapled. Or get on some weight loss clinical trial. Or wait for them to finally find that pill that they’ve been promising since forever (I’m sure someone’s made a documentary or wrote a long article on the history of diet supplements. Like, tapeworms were one of the original diet pills. You could literally buy and infect yourself with tapeworms to lose weight). But the thing is we’re just too damn self-sabotaging. The lifestyle change pressure is just too great so we keep moving the goalposts for when the situation is just right. Things just never seem to line up the way you want.
Well, my big secret is that I never really “started” myself. When people ask me when I started, how long it took, etc, I’m hazy on an actual answer. I’ve fallen back to giving a time period from around the time that I started losing weight, but there is no specific day.
Now, I’m waiting for the situation to be just right: for me to have enough money to afford a surgery, to have the right healthcare, and so on. But I knew that you can’t just get a surgery and solve all the problems. I knew that the surgery would have to go hand-in-hand with a lifestyle change if it is to be successful in the long term. I figured that at the very least while I’m waiting, I may as well start that lifestyle change. That was it. No big announcement. I didn’t want to announce a future failure. No date. Since that was far in the future when I get the surgery. So one day I decided “maybe I should not eat a big lunch every day. I can deal with that much.” And I could deal with that. I dealt with it long enough that, hey, I’ve made a new normal for myself and I’ve adapted to it. So easy too; I can’t count this as the “real” start. But, it kinda was.
Still, everyone’s situation is different. Maybe using the traditional New Year’s Resolution has worked for others. Great on them! But it’s a big scary change to do all at once. Also, we hate to announce another failure. And things never seem to be just right to start. So if you’re like me, heh… maybe just don’t take the beginning so seriously. Don’t make a big deal about it. Don’t tell anyone. One day just do something different.
Note -- if you’re wanting a few more details on how I started, that is coming. This is more about when I “started” and it’s already long, edging on too long. Thank you for your patience!