PUMPING IRONY: Ya Say You Want a Resolution?

Everyone seems to expect resolutions at this time of year, which to me is an interesting phenomenon.

It’s the dead of winter, a time of reflection, certainly, but not action — and you need both to make a resolution work, right? Still, the gym is packed with folks fuelled by resolutionary fervor, doing their utmost to fulfil some promise they made to themselves on New Year’s Eve.

Or, at least I assume the gym is packed. I haven’t been downstairs for a couple of weeks. Laid low by my annual holiday cold virus, I’ve been gulping echinacea and vitamin C capsules, blowing my nose and coughing until I feel like my head’s going to explode. Evenings have found me wrapped in a blanket on my favorite living room chair, staring vacantly into space. (Night before last, I remarked to My Lovely Wife how I must look just about ready for the Home. She didn’t disagree.) Not exactly a resolution-inspiring atmosphere.

I’m definitely on the mend, though. I slept through the night for the first time in recent memory last night, and enjoyed a pleasant walk to work this morning, despite temps in the single digits and a nasty NE wind. I almost lugged my workout gear with me. But not quite.

Still, I’m about ready to dive back in: Climb back on that Elliptical Death Machine. Start cranking away on bench presses. Maybe even get a little more disciplined about my morning routine.

Full disclosure: I’ve been struggling in recent months to rise early enough each morning to do a little routine I’ve enjoyed, sporadically, in the past few months: some pretend yoga, a little zazen, followed by planks (thank you, JS) and pushups. Maybe 45 minutes total. When I’m able to squeeze this routine in, it really gets the blood circulating. Makes the whole morning a bit more vivid. I just haven’t been able to do it very frequently. I’d like to make that happen more regularly.

But I’m not resolving to get up earlier, because if I resolve to get up earlier, I might push myself to rise before I’ve had enough sleep, which would be counter-productive. And I’m not resolving to go to bed earlier, either, so I can get enough sleep, because sometimes when I’m lounging at night in my favorite chair, covered by a blanket, cradling a cat or two on my lap, and feeling every bit as old as I probably look, My Lovely Wife might be sitting there across the room in her favorite chair, her own lap blanketed and occupied by a cat, and a conversation could ensue and before you know it, it’s midnight, and we’re still going on about Darwin’s orchids or Delacroix’s obsession with the light in Morocco or a local postman’s preference for wearing shorts in November (MLW is like this). And who would want to miss out on something like that?

That’s the trouble with traditional resolution-making: It can become kind of an all-or-nothing deal that doesn’t account for the serendipitous occasions that are rewarding in their own right, even as they derail your stated intentions. Or it can become so all-encompassing that you ignore your body when it’s pleading with you to slow down.

The key, as Elizabeth Larsen points out in this EL piece from last summer, is to celebrate small victories on your way to bigger goals. “As with so many life goals, becoming fit isn’t just about some mythical ‘end result,'” she writes. “In fact, the
unexpected benefits of fitness — improved energy levels, better concentration and a closer relationship with your body, to name just a few — can prove much more satisfying.”

I’ve managed to avoid resolving anything during this two-year personal fitness adventure, and I feel like I’ve accomplished more than enough to keep me moving in the right direction. My walking commute has been nothing but a joy; for all its randomness, my resistance training has significantly increased my upper-body strength; and my cardio efforts haven’t done me any harm (at least once I stopped running on the treadmill). Yeah, I could do more stretching, and some days I do (so bug off, OK?). But I’ll never make it part of a resolution. I’ll just try to keep it in mind, continue doing what I’ve been doing and see what happens.

Hey, maybe that’s my resolution:

Stay mindful. Keep moving. See what happens. I can live with that.

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