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.