New Year’s Resolutions are Hell

It’s all in the attitude.

New Years has always been a time of renewal and rededication — a time to set your sights on definite goals to reach in the year to come. I’m talking about resolutions, that shitty little word that pops up every January and makes me feel somewhat guilty that I don’t have one (a resolution, not a January).

Resolution, I believe, comes from the Greek word “guilt trip,” and translates as “frustrating waste of time for everyone involved.” Synonyms include “pipe dream” and “persistent boil on the ass of humanity.”

Okay, it actually means, “to have a fixedness of mind,” but you’ve got to admit that the word has lost any pleasurable connotation when the mention of it brings more burden than buoyancy. Resolutions, like piñatas, seem to be made for the specific purpose of being broken.

And yet so many people continue to make them. I’m sure that at least one out of two of you folks peering through the ethers of cyberspace to read this have placed hand to heart and sworn an oath of resolve for the coming year. And you’re smart people (of this I continue to have faith regardless of the daily news). I’m sure at least a few of you will remember your resolution beyond the first two weeks, strive towards your goal, and end 2002 with pride. There have to be a few success stories, don’t there?

The problem with resolutions — what’s caused the word to be lumped in with alimony, taxes and prostate exams — is that usually the promise you make to yourself is to give something up. Have you ever heard of somebody resolving to buy more DVDs in the New Year? Pet more dogs? Have more sex? (Okay, this last is a possibility, but only for teenagers and men in their twenties who subscribe to the Spice Channel.)

Resolutions are always about giving something up. Giving up smoking, drinking, spending, buggering sheep, doing that thing you do in your bedroom with the lights off and you think no one’s watching. (That’s right, I’m talking to you. Get your hands out of there.) Resolutions are never any fun, and that is why I have avoided them like the plague. The guilt of not making one is considerably less than the guilt of making one and then blowing it.

But this year is different. This year, I have decided to face the guilt and the stress and the boil on the ass of humanity head on. This year, I have a goal worth reaching. Well, two goals actually. The first is not to set myself on fire in 2002. This resolution was quickly reached during a New Year’s Eve party where, while leaning over to light a candle, I got too close to another waxwork deathtrap and caught my sleeve ablaze. This created a smoking hole in my favorite turtleneck and a firm decision to be less on fire in the New Year. I think it’s a goal I can reach.

The second goal is one that will take a little more effort and a bit of exposition.

I’m a fat guy. Not obscenely fat or hideously obese: I’m 5′ 10″ and weight 240 pounds. Just fat enough to make me out of breath going up stairs and avoid shirtless situations (trips to the beach, swimming pools) like the aforementioned plague.

I have been fat for my entire adult life. It started when I was in fourth grade and my parents moved from the middle of town, where all my friends were, to a place out in the boonies where there were no other kids my age. It forced me to spend my days in my room reading and eating Doritos.

There are genetic causes, of course, that I could never outrun. My dad is a large man and I take after him in two ways: his love for 1940′s mystery movies and his penchant for cheesesteaks. There’s also the heart disease, diabetes, asthma, colon cancer and arthritis that run in the family. (I’ve fallen prey to the last of the list, and have no intention of letting the others catch up with me.)

Genetics though, is only a minor factor in regards to my current weight. Mostly, it’s the Doritos. The Doritos and the cheesesteaks. The Doritos and the cheesesteaks and the pizza. The Doritos, the cheesesteaks, the pizza, and my total disregard for anything that looks like a balanced diet.

Yep, that’s about it. It’s been the bane of my existence and saps my energy quicker than a magnet picks up iron filings. I’ve never really had the fixedness of mind necessary to tackle this before, but enough, goddammit, is enough.

So, this year I resolve. I resolve to lose weight. I resolve to make these love handles (which look more like love armrests, by the way) a thing of the past. I resolve to be able to walk into a men’s clothing store, pick something off the rack, and know that they will have it in my size. Do you know how hard it is to find men’s jeans with a 38″ waist and a 30″ inseam? They’re like the Holy Grail of men’s fashions. They only exist if you pray hard enough!

There are some of you who know what I’m talking about. A new study showed that 60 percent of Americans are overweight. That means there are 140 million or so of us out there. We are a demographic to be reckoned with.

But I refuse to become one of those constant dieters that try every plan they come across in the back of Readers Digest. My parents were those people. They were on at one point or another (let me go through the list here): Weight Watchers, Nutri-Slim, Deal-A-Meal, Herba-Life, Slim-Fast, and Dancing to the Freakin’ Oldies. My dad was even on a diet that involved taking pills that contained ephedrine. It’s simulated adrenaline, for God’s sake. It’s the shit truckers take to keep them awake for three days straight, and my dad is a heart attack survivor.

I will not be a Jenny Craig success story: “I lost 30 pounds in three years and just see how good I look.” You’re gonna put that weight back on, lady, and it’s gonna take a lot less than three years to do it.

I realize this is just the kind of resolution that I mentioned earlier on that is most destined to fail: the resolution to give something up. But I have a solution. It will just take a little redefining of reality.

I have a theory. People break resolutions because they think about them in the wrong way. They think about them either as a burden, or as something that should be loved and nurtured. I will do neither. I’m going to need some kind of mindset that will naturally produce a higher mental and emotional energy to get me through this.

This isn’t a resolution. It’s war.

I will not just lose this weight; I will banish it to the place where the sun shines not and the wind rages over broken glass. I will succeed because of the two S’s. No, not sacrifice and self-confidence. I am talking about spite and stubbornness.

I am going to approach my resolution as I would approach an enemy going into battle. Respecting my enemy is good, but hating him is better. I will approach my weight with hatred and malice, giving no ground, showing no mercy. Give me no help or encouragement. That will make me soft and complacent. That’s where spite comes in handy.

The manufacturers of Doritos and Oreos, the giant corporations of McDonald’s and Wendy’s, even that little store down the street that makes the best cheesesteaks in town — they are in league against me. They want me to fail. They want me to give in to the smooth, creamy sauces; the fatty beef; the sweet, sweet filling.

Well, I’ll show those sons of bitches a thing or two! I’ll eat rice three times a day for six months before I order another thing from Domino’s! My hunger will not be a burden, but a constant reminder of my struggle against the tyranny of corporate America whose collective wish it is to make men soft and weak. I’ll see you in Hell before I eat another Big Mac!

Overboard? Maybe. Insane? Possibly. Or perhaps it’s just such a mindblowingly brilliant technique that you simply can’t comprehend it.

Okay, it’s more than likely insane. But every war needs a propaganda machine, and if that means that I have to start thinking about my former allies (sugars, salts, sweet, sweet filling) as enemies, then so be it.

If that’s what it takes not be part of a statistic.

So, if you’ve got something worth fighting for in the coming year, I suggest you forego the usual support group-psyche and attack it like a wolverine defending its nest from greedy trappers — with tooth and claw.

From the time that I first began writing this and the time that you’re reading it, I’ve lost five pounds. So … offer me a Snickers bar. I fuckin’ dare ya.

Article © 2002 by Steve Spotswood