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How much do I love this time of year? The lack of daylight, the 4-foot-high snowdrifts, the post-holiday let down illustrated by the pile of already discarded Christmas presents that I keep tripping over (little ingrates!). Oh that's right, I hate this time of year. Which, when you think about it, is really kind of unfortunate. Here we are at the cusp of a beautiful new year full of excitement and promise and all I can think about is how dreary January and February are.
I blame the resolutions.
As soon as the New Year's festivities are over it's a time honored tradition to celebrate the Day of Self Flagellation, also known as the day we resolve to Be Better. Resolutions in the right hands can be a positive thing - Tony Robbins isn't a gazillionaire for nothing - but for me, and I suspect many of you, they turn into a round-trip ticket on the guilt train.
"This is the year I lose 20 pounds! ... because I didn't lose them last year or the year before and now I'm regretting all that magnificent Peppermint Bark I downed a week ago."
Or "This is the year I upgrade my Type A self into a Zen mama... because if I have one more incident of road rage in the preschool pickup line I'm totally ending up on Maury."
Or, my personal favorite and the one I do the most often, "This year EVERYTHING is going to be different! I will learn to sew! I will cook only delicious healthy meals! I will exercise daily in a manner so joyous that treadmill dancing will look passe! I will read important things! I will write memorable things! And, for the love of little green apple candies, I WILL do 500 crunches before bed every night!"
I write down all my resolutions and stick them on post-it notes on my fridge, next to my bed, on my car steering wheel (right next to the post-it that says "fill up the gas tank" because apparently a flashing lighted display on the dashboard is not enough for me). I even re-copy them 10 times every morning. And then, inevitably, I fail. I'm human. And also kinda lazy. Why learn to sew when Forever 21 does it so cheaply for me? (Sweatshops, shmetshops.) My grand resolutions go right out the door, forgotten until the day I'm vacuuming under the bed - only because my preschooler dropped my favorite earring and I'm too afraid of what's under there to reach in with my bare hand - and discover the crumpled up paper.
But this year, by golly, will be different! Because this year I resolve to resolve nothing.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up on my big dreams but simply resolving to do them has so far gotten me nowhere. This year instead of making resolutions for the whole year, I'm going to focus on making goals - little steps - that will get me closer to being the person that I want to be without overwhelming the person I am right now. For the month of January, here on BlogHer, I'll be sharing with you some of these little steps I'll be taking to increase my health and happiness. (Although I'll probably still hate January. I live in Minnesota. I can't help it, it's our state motto.)
My name is Charlotte Hilton Andersen and I write the blog The Great Fitness Experiment. Each month I, along with my Gym Buddies, try out new fitness programs and then I write about them. (I also write about celebrities, body image, sexual assault, eating disorders and the wide range of ways in which I have publicly humiliated myself.) I'm a mom of five kids, a published author, a freelance writer and - the icing on the cake - an SAT essay grader. I know, you thought a computer graded those things? Nope, it's me reading 500 essays all addressing the same prompt and wondering if the corner of my laptop is sharp enough to gouge my own eyes out if one more student spells ludicrous "Ludacris." (Dear Ludacris, you have singlehandedly ruined a generation of America's children. I'm not talking about misogynistic rap lyrics or your glamorization of violence - you sir, are an awful speller. That said, I cannot stop singing your new song. Nothing ruins a good diatribe like a pumping beat. Crap.)
One of the things I have noticed over the 4 years of doing my Experiments is that if I give myself permission to fail, it takes all the pressure off of being Little Miss Perfect. So, the first little step I'm doing this year - and I hope you'll take it with me - is to simply say "I'll try." I'm going to tell you a few things this month that you may not immediately want to run out and do, but I hope you'll at least say, "Eh, fine. I'll try it once. If Charlotte can do it, I can do it. Or I can at least laugh while I watch her do it."
Make goals but then define the little steps you need to take to get there. Don't be afraid to make mistakes! Who's in with me this month? Anyone else secretly love Ludacris' new song?
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Written with love by Charlotte Hilton Andersen of The Great Fitness Experiment (c) 2010. If you enjoyed this, please check out my new book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything for more of my crazy antics and uncomfortable over-shares!
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