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The Resolution.
By Tom Demerly.

 

Among folks like us the New Year’s Resolution is regarded with cynicism.

You and I are the people who exercise all year for a variety of motives. We see the New Year’s Resolution crowd as a transient population to the world of exercise. We sometimes look down our noses at the people who make resolutions to exercise, lose weight and turn over a new leaf in the New Year. For us, exercise isn’t a resolution or a change, it’s what we do. After the New Year’s Resolution crowd has given up on the gym around the last week of February and given it back to us we keep swimming, spinning, running on the treadmill and doing the weight training. It’s what we do. It doesn’t require a resolution.

It’s worth looking back at where we started as we transition to a new year and acknowledge that we all had to start somewhere. For that reason I say we give the New Year’s Resolution crowd a break.

I started exercise as a teenager who was so overweight they put me in a special education phys ed class. Lucky for me the Dearborn School System provided me with an outstanding teacher, Mr. Newman, who made sure we stayed “resolved” enough to stick with exercise even when it was very hard and very unnatural. It was not a graceful beginning for me and little of what I do in athletics is graceful to this day, but is a part of what I do every day.

Everyone has to start somewhere. I was fortunate enough to have my start in endurance sports handed to me as a gift from our school system and Mr. Newman. It took until I was an adult to realize what an important gift it was.

In looking back I think about the New Year’s Resolution crowd and resolve to not look down my nose at them. Everyone has to start somewhere, even we did. Almost every start has an element of awkwardness and a few false starts. If our gym is crowded with 100 new people who have resolved to exercise and lose weight this year maybe only five of them will still be there in the first week of March. That is five more than was there before- five people whose lives have taken a turn for the better. At least five people made the leap from a mostly sedentary lifestyle to join the ranks of us folk that do this exercise thing as a matter of recreation and habit. It’s part of our lives. It isn’t a resolution. Every year we pick up a few new members to the ranks of the initiated who made a resolution and stuck with. Good for them.

The cynicism that surrounds the New Year’s Resolution is a deal killer for a lot of people who are so afraid to fail they never start. You know all the quaint proverbs and motivational quotes about starting new things so I’ll spare you those. If we somehow made it easier for people to start maybe more people would and less people would give up when it’s easier to roll over in bed after the alarm sounds at 6:00 A.M. when a cold pool is waiting in exchange for a warm bed. About half the time I don’t get over that obstacle. It shows in my swim splits. But about half the time I do muster the resolve to get out of bed and into the pool which means that at least I have a swim split. The majority of people never even bother to set the alarm clock they are so afraid to fail. For the ones with the courage to at least make the resolution and try they deserve our support and even admiration. We were them once, and we are them again every morning at 6:00 A.M.

It takes courage to make a resolution to change in the New Year since we know that New Year’s Resolutions have about a two to three month life span. We’re looking failure squarely in the face. When you tell your friends you’re going to lose weight or train for a triathlon you run the risk of them actually remembering what you said about making a resolution and then them holding you to it a few months later:

“Hey, what about that triathlon thing you were training for? Are you still doing that?”

It’s safe to say the majority of people would rather not risk conceding defeat by simply not committing in the first place. Considering that, there is a certain courage or bravado to making a resolution. That is to be admired.

 

 

© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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