Ah, it's that wonderful time of year again. A time when the health clubs are packed, Nicoderm CQ flies off the shelves, and traffic at WeightWatchers.com is at its peak. Take a look around the office today, and see how many people are replacing their usual doughnut with oatmeal. And what about your coworker? Is his walk a little...off? Chalk it up P90X soreness. Happy New Year!
I used to be a part of that Resolution crowd, because I had no choice. I eat so much between Halloween and New Year's that I'm forced to lose weight because my clothes are starting to bind me. Yes, that's right, I don't wait until Thanksgiving to start overindulging; I start sneaking candy from my children's Halloween stash and I don't look back until January 1st. Or 2nd, really, because New Year's Day brunch always kills my resolution for that day. This New Year's Day, I blew it with a burger and fries with my best friend Amy. We had planned to go out for sushi, but then, because she knew exactly what I'd do, she pointed out Big Mike's across the street. Naturally, I made a beeline for the burger joint, and Amy could happily enjoy her meal with a clean conscience, knowing she had me to blame for our detour. Between (and during) bites, I philosophized about how I'm so over health food. Mostly because I've given up.
Sure, I've pored over many health and fitness books over the years, looking for the one that will tell me I can be thin and fit while subsisting solely on pastries. (I have yet to find it.) But I've also made attempts to eat more healthfully too. After all, I'm not a teenager anymore, and forget unhealthy; it's just plain embarrassing for a woman my age to eat Pop-Tarts for breakfast. (Never mind that my husband, undeterred, starts his day off with an overflowing bowl of Fruity Pebbles every day.)
It's difficult to eat healthy. And I'm not even talking about the deprivation; it's that what's considered healthy keeps changing. It seems that every day a new study comes out that undermines a previously nutritious food with a new, improved, better-for-you alternative. It's no longer healthy to eat just salad; you have to eat organic spinach. Don't bother with skim milk, because almond milk has twice as much calcium. Whole-wheat bread and brown rice are out; sprouted-grain bread and quinoa are in. (What? You don't know what those are? Me neither.) And where was Greek yogurt five years ago? Today you're not healthy unless you eat Greek yogurt every single day, even though it's roughly twice the price of regular yogurt. You could actually save up enough money to travel to Greece in a year if you skipped the Greek yogurt and bought the regular stuff.
The only good food-related news of late is that it's okay to eggs again. There was a good 20-year stretch when you couldn't eat an egg because you'd immediately have a heart attack. Now they're like nutrition's all-star: cheap and full of quality protein and B-vitamins. Wait, I'm sorry...that only applies to eggs that come from cage-free, organic chickens. The eggs you buy in the cooler at the grocery store will still kill you. I once actually kicked around the idea of getting a couple of chickens so we could eat "good" eggs. Then I looked at my children, cats, and fish, and reminded myself how fortunate I am that they've survived my rearing thus far. Two chickens might not be so lucky.
Besides the fact that I'm done with health food, I'm not making any resolutions because most New Year's resolutions are colossal failures. And we fail despite the plethora of expert advice--especially dieting advice--that's available to us. Although I'm not supposed to use the term "diet" anymore, because apparently there are too many negative connotations with that word. You'll have much greater success if you rename your misery from "diet" to "lifestyle change." Try telling yourself that you're in the midst of a "lifestyle change" the next time you're looking at a menu and choosing between the grilled salmon and the fettuccine alfredo, and see if that makes it easier for you.
Useful advice for those like me, who have a penchant for sweets, includes the experts' suggestions for controlling your cravings. I know smokers think they have it tough, but I argue that my addiction to sugar is just as difficult to kick. I have the most wicked sweet tooth in the history of mankind. If you try to come between me and a piece of cake, well, let's just say that you do so at your own risk. And there's no "patch" for my addiction, either, like there is for smokers. Instead, the health experts suggest that a piece of fruit, like, say, an apple, will satisfy your craving for a brownie, or a candy bar, or ice cream. These experts can make ridiculous statements like that because they don't eat brownies, or candy bars, or ice cream. When they want dessert, they treat themselves to a piece of organic dark chocolate. I've eaten organic dark chocolate, and frankly, I'd rather have the apple. But a piece of fruit as a stand-in for a package of Double-Stuf Oreos? Please!
With my poor eating habits, the only thing that has kept me alive this long is my workout regimen. Because I work out at 5:00 in the morning, I like (need) to drink caffeine beforehand, but that's not good enough either. Jillian Michaels says it really should be white willow bark. Jillian Michaels scares me, so in order to stay on her good side, I started to do some research on white willow bark. It turns out that you can't just go out to your yard and scrape the bark off of a white willow tree and put it in your coffee. (Sorry, Starbucks across the street!) You have to buy white willow bark, and like most everything you buy at GNC, it's overpriced and its benefits are questionable. (But don't tell Jillian I said that.)
So no resolutions for me this year. I wish I could say, like Greg Heffley, it's because I'm already pretty much one of the best people I know. But really, it's because I know I'd be setting myself up to fail. And who wants to do that when they could eat a cookie instead?