Happy New Year!
…no? Can’t say that I really blame you on that one. The calendar resets itself and suddenly it’s all about “New Year, New You!” And reality is, that we’re still the same person that we were a few seconds ago, only a little drunker, a little more smeared lipstick on your face, and possibly another bad decision that you’ll resolve to “never do again” in about 12 hours when you wake up hungover.
Let’s talk about those resolutions. Some of you out there have crazy will power. You have the desire to better yourself and you truly believe that the New Year brings hope and wipes the slate completely clean. That new Kittens and Puppies calendar on your wall is a promise to yourself that you are going to change fundamentally who you are. You are going to make good decisions, make great life choices. Good for you. I applaud that. But…if you’re anything like me, your track record of keeping those resolutions are mediocre at best.
Cause like I said earlier…you are still the same person. Nothing has changed about us fundamentally within the span of a good night’s sleep. (Or a drunken unconsciousness…who are we kidding.) The year, the month, the day…these are just arbitrary numbers. If you aren’t a person who can follow through on the big stuff, then all you’re doing is promising to yourself to break your promise. All that really does is reinforce your own bad habits. So what’s the solution? Make a REAL promise to yourself, taking into account what we can and WANT to do.
Look…I get it. We’re about two weeks into the New Year, and I already hear those resolutions creaking from the logistical gymnastics that you are pulling to try and bend your promise without breaking it. Here’s the thing…the majority of us make resolutions that we can never ever keep. So instead of having you pull a moral hamstring, or dislocating your spine attempting to bend over backwards to keep these unrealistic expectations of yourself, let me simplify some of the most popular resolutions so that you can actually do them. That way, your conscience is clear, and you don’t feel like a lazy schmuck when after a terrible day at work, you eat your feelings in the form of ice cream. In fact, let’s start with the most popular one:
1) Get In Shape (aka. I Will Get Six Pack Abs):
Guys and girls…let’s face facts. You didn’t have them in your teens, you didn’t have them in your twenties, and now you want them in your thirties and forties. Or maybe you had them before and you want to eliminate the beer gut so you can get to what you had. GOD BLESS if you can get ’em. Seriously. You are amazing, motivated, and Kings and Queens among us. I also hate you just a little bit. Let’s be honest with ourselves for just a hot second. In 2014, the idea of you running a mile without clutching your chest like an open heart surgeon was the equivalent of you discovering time travel. Suddenly you go from that to being one of those guys who can shatter boards on you rectus abdominis. By all means, if you have the ability, BE that person. Personally, I know myself. Between working 14 hours a day, doing theater for another 3, with an average daily travel time of 2 hours…well if you’re doing the math at home, boys and girls, you are left with about 5 hours for sleep. That’s IF you can fall asleep at a pin drop, which I can’t. Somewhere in there, I need to workout like a Beast so I can be the trim, sexy mothafucka that lurks beneath this exterior.
Yeah… I’m not lazy. Ask anyone…except my mother. I don’t do lazy. The most I can manage are push ups and some crunches. I don’t run unless someone is chasing me, and even then it better be with murderous intent, because I would rather fight than run. I’m not saying I’m a violent person. I just know my odds of escaping with speed are not as good as holding my ground and stopping the chase before it even begins. So it behooves me to make a resolution that allows me to do something within the span of what I’m capable. My advice? Start by making a concrete numerical goal. And don’t pull a “Biggest Loser” and claim that you’re going to lose 100 lbs., because that’s not fair to yourself. Start with a goal that seems attainable…like 5 lbs.. Once you reach your goal, you’re going to find that knowing that you can reach a small goal allows you to chase after a bigger one. Plus, if you lose 5 lbs., and go beyond that…then everything that comes afterwards is gravy. Speaking of which:
2) Eating Right (aka. No Bacon For Me. I’ll Have A Kale Smoothie. – Said No One EVER):
This is really just an addendum to the previous, but aside from exercise, the first thing we vow to do in a new year is “eating right.” That’s wonderful! And what was stopping you from doing that in November when you were face to face with a turkey the size of a football player’s head? The year changes over and suddenly all the information about healthy eating came pouring into your head like someone uploaded the program into your head ala the Matrix? We knew that we shouldn’t eat french fries and should be eating oven baked kale chips. We know that soda is bad, some carbs are bad, fiber is good, and that there are more vitamins and minerals in veggies and fruits than there are in a double bacon cheeseburger. The information of what we should be doing is all around us. Hell…we don’t ask for advice, and there’s about 100 of your friends posting it on Facebook to remind you of all the things you are doing wrong.
I KNOW I need to eat small meals through the day. I know that simple carbs are the enemy. I know that fat, while flavor, is also FAT. And if you have the will power to substitute your breakfast burrito for a kale and spinach smoothie, then god bless. I wish I had that kind of staying power. But I know me. I wake up at 3 or 4 AM every morning, and my stomach is still asleep. It doesn’t want to eat, and honestly I can’t blame it. I don’t want to be up, why should I expect my internal organs to do the same? It wants to eat around 11 in the morning when the sun’s been out for a while and it wakes its lazy ass up and goes “YAWN… What’s for breakfast?” “Pizza. Now, SHUT UP!” Then I work til 6 in the evening, and then some nights I go to rehearsal, or some kind of lesson to better myself. Within that time frame, I’m supposed to go home and cook a dinner for myself rich and nutrients, whole grains, lean protein, and veggies. Then it becomes… “Fuck it. Let me put a taco in my mouth hole” because it saves time.
So…what’s the solution? How do you promise to yourself to do better and still keep a resolution? Well…let’s think about this logically. Let’s say you don’t have time during the weekday to eat healthy or to cook yourself a healthy meal. What about weekends? What if you resolve to use one day per week to eat better? 1 out of 7 days. You wake up after a good night’s sleep, make yourself a smoothie with tons of fruits and some veggies, and snack on almonds and lean deli meat or low fat cheese sticks until dinner. Then you cook yourself up a meal of chicken, brown rice, and at least 3 veggies. Maybe if you’re good, you eat a low fat ice cream bar. Guess what, folks? You’re teaching your body healthy habits, and replacing one day a week with healthier living. Not a big step, but a tiny one. Maybe when you get some more time, you try to do two. Or if one is good enough, then stick with that. Sometimes it’s just about the increments.
3) Find Somebody To Love (cue Queen song):
You know me. I’m bitter about this whole love thing. I know. Surprise. But then again, if I wasn’t, this blog wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining, and these posts would be full of “Happily Ever After” stuff that would have you retching in the nearest trash receptacle. I have no idea why people keep making this resolution every god damn year. For fuck’s sake, it isn’t up to YOU. As if by making this resolution you somehow come to the realization that you haven’t actually been looking for your dream partner this entire time. That your 10 subscriptions to every large dating site and a few specialty ones were really all a way to spend some of your surplus money, which I know we all have just lying around. Somehow you had never made this resolution to yourself and therefore the Universe deemed you unworthy of finding your soulmate. But now that you are really really determined, your One True is going to come falling out of the sky with you to catch them, right?
With this resolution, here’s my advice. Add the word “TRY” to it. The most you can attempt to do is to keep an open mind, and TRY to find somebody. There’s no guarantees for love. There’s no guarantees that you’ll get along! All you can do is make the attempt and hope you don’t flame out. Try dating outside of a strict “type” that you have, or try going a little further out to meet someone. Don’t adhere to so many of your own rules that you tie a noose around your neck. Take a chance, especially when what you’ve been doing has not been working! Remember that the definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing expecting a different result. And if you don’t find love, at least you made the attempt…which is honestly the best you can hope for, and what have you got to lose?
4) Live Life To The Fullest (aka. – YOLO):
How do you even quantify this? Are you just supposed to follow every impulse of your id until you’re broke and dead? You gotta be specific with what qualifies as “living” and how “fullest” should be defined. That’s almost like making a resolution that says “To be happy.” Well what the fuck is that!? Happiness looks very different to a poor college student compared to a middle aged CEO. Living your life to the fullest might mean paying off your student loans and diviing out of an airplane or it could mean going to Bora Bora with your mistress on the company dime. This resolution is too general to be useful. Get specific attainable goals and start there!
Look…a new body, a new job, a new life, a new you…these are all worthy and noble goals. But 10 minutes ago you watched Ryan Seacrest awkwardly kissing someone, while a veil of confetti fell from the sky on top of a horde of drunken people packed in like sardines. Nothing has changed except your perception, and unless you got the spine to back up all those big promises you’ve been laying down, all you’re going to be left with is a list of things you’ve backed down from. While changing big things sounds romantic, very few people have the time or energy to change these things on their own. Hell, some of the things you don’t even have control over. I’m not saying to do these things so that you can suck out all the fun…but if you’re dead set on changing yourself, there’s no issue at all with starting small and working gradually. You still get there, just with stronger groundwork.
As for me, I do what I can when I can. There are things that I want, and I’ll go after them, but these are things that I don’t get in a single year. I have to keep working on it…gradually and slowly. But I’ll get there.
So once again…I say unto you…Happy New Year! And this time, I mean it. – AB