I should know better, but every year I plunge off the New Year’s Resolution cliff with the rest of the overly optimistic self-improvement lemmings.

And I don’t make just one resolution, oh no! Where’s the fun of self-sabotage in that? Making just one resolution might actually give me a chance of carrying it through to at least, oh, St. Patrick’s Day.

No. Every year — every blessed year since I was about 12 years old and first becoming vaguely aware that I might not, perhaps, be perfect in every way — I have made a dozen or more resolutions. I have made solemn New Year’s promises to myself ranging from (according to age at the time, and current preoccupations) “stop borrowing my sister’s clothes without her permission” to “no more junk food” to “quit smoking,” “be nicer to that skank in payroll,” and “don’t date men without a visible (legal) means of support.”

And the few resolutions that I have managed to keep, usually after several years of trying, are due less to my own moral fortitude and more to the credit of random life circumstances… I stopped going out with bar-band musicians, for example, and actually married one of them.

But this year, I think I’ve finally figured out a way to keep those brave resolutions made in the full mad flush of New Year’s Eve:

  1. Make only one resolution.Hey, how do you know that you don’t have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder? Many people do.

    Just in case, give yourself only one resolution to focus on — avoid that nasty little moment when, congratulating yourself for having slurped down a healthy 8 glasses of water, you absentmindedly gobble a chocolate-covered cherry (or twelve) only to remember that you’ve foolishly sworn off all sweets!

  2. Make it a flexible resolution.Rome was not built in a day, and the most fabulous of us cannot expect to achieve perfection in one short year.

    Avoid the flaboyant and grandiose gesture. Instead of, “I resolve to exercise vigorously for one hour, four times a week, and run a half-marathon next November,” from a starting point of Total Couch Potato, why not simply resolve to exercise a little more each week than you did the week before? Busy weeks and bad weather and “oh, the hell with it” moods are easily accomodated, then, and one or two bad days won’t mean that you’ve screwed up your whole program of self-improvement for the whole year.

  3. Make it a small resolution.Setting yourself up for success — for a change — is much more important than the pledge itself. Get one thing right and more will follow. Start small and build on it.

    This isn’t a cop-out or an excuse for laziness, it’s actually true. The squints have done studies on it. Failure will tend to breed more failure, like a self-fulfilling prophecy. But ah! Success, no matter how small the achievement — success breeds self-confidence, and confidence is a strong predictor of continued success. Not just in saying “no thanks” to the chocolate-covered cherries, but in all manner of ventures in life.

The New Year’s Resolution I’d like to make, and in the bad old self-defeating days, probably would have made, would go something like this:

Old Style New Year’s Resolution:

I solemnly swear that I lose those two extra inches off my waist before swimsuit season. I will do so by getting up early to go jogging in the morning (every morning), drinking the prescribed minimum of eight glasses of water each day, banning all butter and sugar from my diet, and doing isotonic exercises whenever I’m watching television.

Okay, now compare and contrast —

New Style New Year’s Resolution:

I solemnly swear that I will not eat sour-cream-and-onion potato chips unless they are served at someone else’s house, at a party where I’m wearing pantyhose and heels.

See what I did there?
No, really, it’s no joke. I’ll explain how come this actually makes sense —

Sour-cream-and-onion potato chips are my one true love. I cannot resist them. If they are in the house, I will eat a family-sized bag in one sitting. I will keep eating them whether I’m hungry or not. I might not even be thinking of potato chips, but if someone enters my house with a bag of those sour-cream-and-onion crispy little temptations, I will make a complete pig of myself until they’re gone, then lick my fingers to scrape every last crumb from the bottom corners of the bag.

In short, I have a truly pathetic addiction.

Am I swearing off all potato chips completely and forever? No. Just the one flavour that tempts me the most. Any other flavour, I can easily eat a chip or two and just walk away, so where’s the point in denying myself one or two?

And see, I’ve given myself a little flexibility, so as not to feel deprived. If the day comes when I’m truly jonesing for a sour-cream-and-onion chip, all I’ve got to do is talk one of my friends into throwing a party and laying on the chips. And then I’ve got to climb into “girl clothes” to go to the party… which should highlight the truly pathetic nature of my s-c-and-o chip addiction, since my social circle tends more towards the jeans-and-guitars kitchen party kind of thing.

Do I want the chips badly enough to go to all that trouble? To annoy my friends, beg for invitations, and troop around from house to house dressed like Mary Tyler Moore stepped out of a time warp?

I’m guessing not… and I’m guessing that this is one New Year’s Resolution I’m going to be able to keep.

And you know what else? With the staggering number of calories there are lurking in potato chips, I can probably find my old waistline again just by cutting out that one indulgence!

That’s my theory, anyway.
I’ll keep you posted…

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. domestika

    So far so good, guys! I made it through the first chip-free week… and guess what – it turns out that there is, in fact, a correlation between day-length and cravings for starchy foods! It has to do with stress and general gloom and anxiety and your body’s OMG-we’re-all-going-to-starve panic that goes way back to the most primitive instincts of caveman days. I’ve been reading these studies, especially at the U of Penn, where they’ve figured out that stressed-out rats crave carbs and fat. So-called “comfort foods” actually help the brain to release those feel-good seratonin (sp?) thingies that lift our spirits. So, no wonder that Canadians crave our carb-rich goodies in the dead of dark winter! Apparently it can help to relieve the carb cravings if one were to eat more protein (especially protein with calcium, like milk and cheese)… but I can’t vouch for that personally. Not yet, anyway… gotta go stock up on low-fat yogurt, first!

  2. The duck thief

    You know I never thought about that before. Maybe I’ll apply for a government grant to study the possible correlation. :)

  3. BloggingWriter

    I don’t do resolutions, either, but I like the idea of keeping them small and manageable. Otherwise you run the risk of doing nothing at all.

  4. domestika

    Hey, perhaps there’s some correlation between being female in the Great White North, and the lure of savoury chips?

  5. The duck thief

    Hey, I have the same problem! Especially if they’re Old Dutch and they’re Ripple Sour Cream and Onion. You can’t see me but I’m salivating just thinking about it. It’s the worst kind of addiction.

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