OK, OK. Perhaps your eyes are glazed over like mine might be — and I don’t mean from inebriation. I’m talking about the excess of New Year’s resolutions.
Those resolutions seem so trite but following through on them isn’t: I’m going to do this and do that. I’m going to follow my dream. Clean up my act. Throw away the junk. Make my life better. The drill seems endless.
But there is another side of this that warms my heart and is most suitable. Although the nights are long and the days are short, I like to think of the sun making its way back to the buds of spring and the warmth of summer.
To my mind at this time of year, those so-called resolutions are a call to hope. They bring hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for a better you and me. Hope for a better community. By dusting ourselves off, polishing our lives, moving a bit forward in what we should do and want to do, we will perhaps see a better tomorrow. It’s as trite as the song from “Annie,” but true nonetheless.
So with peace on Earth and goodwill toward all, let me reach into my bag of tricks and give you my biggies for the new year. Now, will I follow them? I’ll try. Are they doable? Sure they are, that’s how I like to craft them, not as some wild and unachievable goals.
Will they change my life? That’s a tough question. Perhaps like the proverbial “butterfly effect,” where small things have big consequences, my resolutions will alter my life in some larger way. But I won’t hold my breath.
No. 1: Food. You can’t talk about resolutions without thinking about food. The industrialized food that has made our society increasingly fat is an anathema, widely disliked. We all know that, but we just have trouble reining in the sweets and fats because, frankly, they taste so good.
We have evolved into consuming concentrated tasty food stuffs because back in the day, calories were at a premium. We needed them for survival. Now, they’ve become the norm and we get more than enough.
So if you have those love handles you’d like to shed, shoot for 250 calories less per day. And the way to find out how many calories you’re consuming is to “Google it.” For example, one scoop of chocolate ice cream can have from 150 to 300 calories. If you like the stuff as much as I do, then do one of two things: Buy a lower-calorie version or stick to your regular ice cream but eat less. I do the latter because I love full-fat ice cream.
Now, when you read labels you’ll find surprises. I love whole-milk yogurt — it’s creamy and delicious. A cup of my favorite vanilla yogurt is 200 calories. When I compared it with the low-fat version that isn’t as satisfying, I found it had the same 200 calories. Why? Because they added sugar. To me, fat’s the game changer, sugar less so. I believe if you eat the foods that satisfy you — like the whole-milk yogurt I go for — then you might end up eating less throughout the day because, well, because you are satisfied.
No. 2: Exercise. I promise, Scouts honor (even though I never got out of Cub Scouts, I think it still counts), that I will get no less than seven to 10 minutes of daily exercise.
We are too stuck on doing the right exercise at the right time in the right clothes with the right shoes, etc., etc. But noted studies of “Blue Zones” looking at the world’s longest-living people have shown that you live long when you just move.
Like you, I spend too much time at the screen. I must do something every day at a computer. I can make up every excuse in the world not to exercise, but I can’t honestly say I don’t have seven to 10 minutes.
For me it’s a seven-minute workout app on my phone. For you, it might mean walking around the block after work or at lunch for 10 minutes. More than half of all Americans don’t spend an average of 10 to 15 minutes a day on the move.
Let’s shed the sloth costume. Dedicate yourself to 10 minutes of activity a day and you’ll be better off in the long run.
No. 3: Give back. My wife, Penny, and I have had so many blessings in our lives. At this time of year, we give to things we’re passionate about – the new food pantry in our home town, the new library and charities that try to make the world a better place.
But what about when April rolls by, or July or October? Do we do enough then? That’s the challenge — isn’t it? — remembering our resolution to leave the world a better place, month after month after month. It’s really the best thing we can do this new year and every year. Stay well.