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Archive for December, 2008

My New Year’s Revolution

Monday, December 29th, 2008

AUTHOR’s NOTE: Wrote this a couple years ago, think you’ll like it. Hugs for the New Year from me to all of you!

The first thing I was going to do this morning was go work out at the gym. Then I noticed the date. January 2. I quickly abandoned my plans. The second of January is the biggest gym day ever. This is the day when hundreds of thousands of people wake up and realize that they are fat. They realize that January 2 is the first official day of their New Year’s Resolution when they aren’t too hungover to do something about it. So they grab the phone book, look up the address for their local fitness club and head off towards their future of buff skinniness. Poor deluded fools.

I, for one, hate New Year’s and all the dumb resolutions that go along with it. I think it’s appropriate that we call them New Year’s Resolutions because they don’t last past New Year’s Day. All those tubby repenters will be at my gym today and today only. The very dedicated will be there until about January 15. That’s when most people forget about all their resolutions and go back to normal. It’s also when Krispy Kreme feels free to ramp up their production schedule.

I am hereby calling for the revoking of the New Year’s Resolution. Let’s abolish this sucker. Because it’s really the New Year’s Lie. All we’re doing is setting ourselves up for failure. When we’re at a party with a lampshade on our heads—making out with some guy who looks just like Antonio Banderas—it’s easy to make a bunch of fantastical plans. We promise ourselves that in the New Year we’ll lose weight, work out, quit smoking, drink less, see our parents more. Because in that moment, it’s not the next year. It’s the moment when you’re throwing caution to the wind. Your last hurrah before the cold light of January dawns. You’re shoving finger foods in your mouth, having a grand old time with Antonio, drinking magnums upon magnums of champagne, and in that moment, sure, losing weight sounds easy. Antonio might even stick around after New Year’s if you’re skinnier. Then comes January 1. You wake up and try to move your head, but it weighs a hundred pounds. You try to speak but your tongue feels like a huge wad of sandpaper. You try to move off the bed, but it’s spinning so fast you feel like you’re on a merry-go-round. Then you realize that you’re not alone. You vaguely remember sleeping with Antonio Banderas the night before. You finally manage to move your head to see if Tony is still there. You scream. Somehow during the night, Antonio transformed into Pauly Shore. On the way home, you remember your resolution. You also realize that you need to add “giving up champagne and New Year’s altogether” to your other resolutions. And then you kick yourself for making the stupid promise in the first place. Then on January 2nd, you wake up guilt-ridden and drag yourself to the gym with the secret hope that the real Antonio will leave Melanie for you if you lose that fat pad around your tummy.

I think what we need to do is get rid of the entire holiday season. It’s Christmas that prompts this whole resolution cycle of sinning and repenting. We pig out on Grandma’s fudge, Mom’s cookies and Dad’s turkey stuffing because we’re so stressed out about the holidays, food is our only source of pleasure. We consume massive amounts of alcohol to combat the urges to strangle nasty family members that we’re forced to visit. We spend money we don’t have buying stuff for people that they don’t need. Then for all our hard work, we reward ourselves by overindulging yet again on New Year’s Eve. Five, four, three, two, one—all the top buttons of our collective pants burst at once. And then, on January 2, we dutifully file to the gym and sign up for a whole year—when in actuality we’ll be done with this gym nonsense before the membership fees show up on our credit card bill. It’s amazing what effect tight clothes and a couple bottles of booze has on the human brain.

I have to say, however, that its very entertaining watching the unbridled enthusiasm of the fledgling gym attendees on their first (and usually last) day at the gym. They arrive in their new workout clothes feeling great about themselves. They already feel thinner because they’ve put on track pants which have elastic waistbands. Then with all this wonderful motivation, they set about their workout. They are so excited that they’ve finally forced themselves to a gym that they’re going to make up for an entire year of sitting on the couch and stuffing their faces with Big Macs. All at once. They attack all the new machines; the Pec Deck, the Thigh Killer, the Ab Murderer, the Butt Terminator. They sweat and grunt and by the end of their two-hour workout, they are feeling omnipotent. They walk out of the gym feeling invincible. They are the new Superpeople. The next morning the Superpeople wake up feeling like they overdosed on Kryptonite. First, they can’t get out of bed unassisted. They discover muscles they didn’t even know they had. And all of them hurt. None of them will be able to lift their arms high enough to grab their latte off the counter at Starbucks. Walking will be agony, sitting even worse. Finally, they give up moving entirely and settle in on the couch. Because they’re stuck on the couch, they have to order out for food. Because they started working out, they feel entitled to eating a bit more, so they order Domino’s special two-for-one deal on large pepperoni pizzas. And thus the cycle of sinning and repentance continues.

What we all seem to forget is that last year’s New Year is this year’s Old Year. We all made and promptly abandoned the same stupid resolutions last year. So, here’s my advice: Skip the gym. If you want to feel thinner, keep the workout clothes. Not only will you feel thin, you will present the image of someone athletic. And if you continue to gain weight, you won’t notice and neither will anyone else—track pants have become the new muu-muu. If you’re serious about losing weight and exercising, don’t wait until you’re drunk and desperate to make the decision. Drunk desperation is best left to more important decisions, like at which party you have the best chance of meeting Antonio Banderas.

©2006, Janet Periat

The Five Stages of Christmas

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

I deal with Christmas the same way most people deal with death. I go through the same five stages. Firstly comes Denial. I can’t believe Christmas is here again. Then Anger. Stupid Christmas, why do the holidays have to exist? Then comes the Bargaining stage. Well, maybe I can skip parts of it and cheap out on gifts. Then Depression. It’s inevitable. There’s no way out. Bummer. Then the final stage, Acceptance. Well, I do like the reruns of Rudolph and The Grinch, maybe it won’t be so bad.

But it is. It’s always both good and bad. The holidays are always a double edged sword with me. The good? Seeing relatives I rarely see throughout the year, the fresh baked cookies, the endless Christmas parties. The bad? Seeing relatives I rarely see throughout the year, the fresh baked cookies and the endless Christmas parties.

It’s a vicious cycle. I love eating rich foods, I hate gaining weight. I love trimming the tree, I hate taking it down. I love buying gifts for people, I hate what it does to my budget. I love the holiday cheer, I hate the weather. I love people in my house, I hate cleaning. It’s always a mixed bag.

When I was a kid, I had no such mixed feelings, the holidays were spectacular. Period. Mom and Dad went through special effort to make sure our Christmases were glorious. Presents were plentiful, our morning routine had just the right amount of suspense and anticipation. We were not allowed into the living room in the morning until we had all eaten breakfast (read: choked down some toast in three seconds flat). Then we were made to line up according to age (me first—one of the only benefits I could see to being the youngest). Then once we were all lined up, Mom let us into the living room. And there the tree would be, lit up and surrounded by a cornucopia of incredible gifts. Some were left unwrapped, some wrapped, our living room always looked like a Christmas display in a store window. Absolutely magical.

Now I have to buy the gifts, wrap them, fix the food, and make everyone else in the family happy. Used to be I only had to focus on myself. So? Do I want a return to those days? No. I love thinking up special gifts for everyone, wrapping them and anticipating how much they will enjoy them when Christmas day arrives. I love baking cookies. I love helping out and making Christmas run smoothly. But it’s still a job. A big job. A big ol’ honkin’ job that I start dreading around late July when Hallmark first puts out their annoying Christmas ornaments.

So, every year around August, my husband and I start making elaborate escape plans. Hawaii? Yosemite? New Mexico? We soon realize that we don’t want to travel around the holidays, so we start thinking of other ways to relieve the stress. Mainly the monetary stress. I have a big family, one that has repeatedly rejected the name drawing method of reducing the gift giving burden. So, we start planning on only giving wine and candy. But then of course, my sister doesn’t have a significant other or kids, so she needs an extra gift. And so does my aunt, can’t compromise on hers. Or my mother’s gift. How many more Christmases will she be here? I want to get her something really nice. Oh, yeah and my niece just got married, she needs a new cappuccino maker. You see where this is going. We just can’t seem to find our way out.

Which brings me to the Depression/Acceptance part of my holiday cycle. I know what’s going to happen. It happens every year. But that doesn’t stop my husband and I from planning like mad to avoid the stress and the financial impact of the holiday season. Will we be able to achieve our goals this year?

I just hope Visa will have that special interest rate this January.

©2000, Janet Periat

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