The folly of New Year’s resolutions

If you’re like most Americans, you spent some time coming up with resolutions to kick off 2016. And you’ve already failed at them. Whoops!

Now sure, you might be telling yourself that you haven’t failed, exactly, not yet anyway, that you’re going to get right back on them and everything will be fine. Just like every year, right?

But don’t despair. Let me tell you why it’s not your fault.

You see, the thing about New Year’s resolutions is that they are made at the start of the new year. It’s right there in the name.

But the beginning of a new year is not a time to go out and exercise more, or start eating better, or do pretty much any of the other typical resolution-y type things. The new year starts in January and then moves on into February, the heart of winter, the time of year that is poetic shorthand for death.

FL_winter

Unless you live in Florida. But in that case, every day is spent surrounded by the contemplation of death anyway.

Let’s look at some of those common resolutions and how they are destroyed by the cataclysmic force that is January.

We’ll start with exercising more. This is perhaps the most common resolution of them all, at least when lumped into the “lose weight” resolution. The easiest way to start getting in shape is to go running. Just throw on some sneakers and go for a jog. Except here’s the result if you try that now.

JackTorrance

Poor bastard didn’t even make it past the front yard.

It’s not that much better if you decide to be one of the many to flock to the gym. In addition to the masses of people making it a miserable experience–have fun waiting for any machine you want to become open!–the weather makes it difficult to even make it that far. I would show a picture of the latest New York Snowpocalypse, but I figure most of you have Facebook and are sick of them too. Suffice to say, no one’s going out in that.

If you’re not in Florida and haven’t had your own Snowpocalypse yet, rest assured it’s coming. But even just cold weather makes it such a chore to go. Throw on a bunch of layers to brave the elements, only to get there and take them off, then fight for the machines, and it’s no wonder people give up so readily.

Of course, there’s another way to lose weight. You could try eating better.

Once again, January will get the best of you. Let’s take a trip to our local grocery store and see how this turns out.

empty_produce_section

“How wilted do you want your lettuce? Mostly, or completely?”

You are again fighting with everyone else who wants to suddenly start eating better, so the selection is going to be low. And it’s January, no fruits and vegetables are in season. Maybe snow peas? I don’t know how vegetables work. But like the Bible says, Man cannot subsist on snow peas alone.

Beyond the absence of healthy foods that shouldn’t make you suspicious, psychology comes into play. It’s freezing out. Your prehistoric lizard brain knows there’s no food for it out there to scavenge, so it knows it has to fatten you up. You’re not going to eat a salad. You’re going to eat a gallon of macaroni and cheese. And you’re going to pour gravy on it!

Your mind and body need warmth and comfort, and that comes from fatty, delicious foods.

This is a similar problem that comes from any other sort of productivity type of resolution. The terrible weather, shorter days, and overindulgence on fatty foods is going to make you lethargic and unwilling to do anything. Studies show that you only have so much willpower you can use in a day, and just getting out of bed takes up all of it in January and February.

dog-blanket

And sometimes it’s not enough even for that.

Winter is a time for hibernating, not doing stuff. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing discovered by scientists with a terrible sense of humor. Basically, the terrible weather affects your mood, making you more depressed. This is when you want to get out and start doing more things? We’ve designed an entire system for failure!

Come see me in April. Let’s make our resolutions then. In fact, maybe we can turn April Fool’s Day from the day when websites tell ridiculous lies as some sort of attempt at humor (haha? I believed what you said?) into the day when we fool ourselves into thinking we’re going to become the best versions of ourselves.

Because let’s be real. I’m not going to keep resolutions in April either. But we’ll have fewer external reasons for them to fail then.

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