Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Year... A Clean Slate?

Maybe not.  

I know that most folks look at a new year as a great time to start anew.  If the previous months have been tougher or less promising than usual, they may be desperately grasping at straws, searching for any promise of better days ahead.  And that, my friends, is typically a recipe for disaster.  Or at least a great deal of disappointment. 

Like most folks, I've done the whole New Year's resolution thing.  

Also like most folks, I've failed miserably.  

Exercise more, eat better, be kinder, spend more time doing something I love...it doesn't matter.  Any time a person pins that much expectation on someone (even herself; especially herself) it's like having this huge thing hanging over them.  It can't/won't be ignored.  It defines every move they make, every thought they think.  Its presence is felt in every moment of every day until finally, one day (usually a couple of weeks into the new year), the pressure of it all becomes overwhelming and SNAP!  It's all over.  You stash the exercise DVDs where you don't have to see them, indulge in a bag of Hershey's Miniatures, snap at the next person whose attitude is less than perfect and you forget that 'me time' you were going to spend on the great book you started reading because you have too many other things that need done. 

It isn't pretty.

I have decided to stop looking at a new year as being a clean slate.  After all, who is really starting everything perfectly fresh?  The same people, the same situations, the same responsibilities that were there on December 31st...they're all right there looking you in the eye on January 1st.  As much as we'd like to forget some of those things, it just isn't that simple. 

So I've decided that I'm not going to view 2012 through that same pair of rose colored glasses.  It is not a clean slate and not even a completely fresh start.  Sure, there are advantages to that train of thought, but the fact of the matter is that at some point (typically sooner rather than later) that train is gonna jump the tracks.  I simply don't want to set myself up for failure and then have to deal with the guilt, disappointment and feelings of defeat.

Here's my new way of thinking:

I will look at the past year's successes and continue to build on them in 2012. 
For instance, I've changed some of my bad eating habits and I feel so much better than I have in a long time.  I'm avoiding artificial sweeteners and many dairy products.  After a little research and a few hours of Dr. Oz ; ) I discovered that some of the symptoms I've been suffering could be eliminated by making a few changes on my own.  And it's working!  Plus I've dropped a few pounds due to the fact that I'm just eating more healthily.  My tastes have changed and many of the rich and fattening foods I used to enjoy no longer appeal to me.  I am, however, craving fresh vegetables and foods that aren't heavy with grease.  I don't do deep-fried anything (except for the occasional small order of french fries from Burger King...don't judge me, please ; ) ) because I simply can't anymore.  
I will allow myself to enjoy these little victories without the 'do more' pressure that resolutions cause. 
Whatever I manage to accomplish, I will be happy.  If I don't happen to reach a particular goal exactly when I hope to, I won't feel defeated.  I will relish the progress I have made, just like I've been doing the past few months. It's a long-term goal; a lifestyle change.  It isn't going to happen overnight.  The old habits took years to form and they won't be undone in the blink of an eye. 

I will treat myself the way I want others to treat me.
Yes, that's what I said.  TREAT MYSELF THE WAY I WANT OTHERS TO TREAT ME.  Why oh why do we have such a difficult time being good to ourselves?  It's bad enough to let others treat us in a way that brings us down, but it's even worse when we do it to ourselves.  I've been trying to practice this one over the last several weeks by cutting myself some slack.  I expect too much of myself because I don't want to let anyone down, especially my family.  Then I proceed to wear myself down to the point of uselessness.  I make myself ill, emotionally and even physically.  The thing that is most difficult for me to remember is that if I don't take care of myself, I can't take care of everyone else.  Period. 


So how about you?  Did you make resolutions for this brand new calendar year?  There is nothing wrong with that!  If it works for you, go for it!  But do me a favor:  DON'T be too hard on yourself if you don't make it to the gym 5 times a week or beat yourself up if you don't drop 20 pounds by the end of January.  In other words, don't make unrealistic goals that put you under so much pressure that it breaks you.

*A little footnote: I guess the last few weeks I've spent away from my blog have been productive in more ways than one.  : )  Yes, we've been busy with the cupcakery and there have been days when I've barely had time to breathe.  But I've also had the opportunity to create and to see that there are things outside of my comfort zone that I am perfectly capable of doing.  I've had a chance to see myself in a slightly different light and to realize that there is more to me than what meets the eye...even my own eye!   And while I may not look all that different on the outside, I'm definitely growing on the inside.  Right where it counts.  : )