I don't really make New Year's resolutions. It's not that I think I'm perfect (far from it), but it's that I am not sure how much stock I put into the motivation of making a list of things to work on or make better just because of the time of year. For me, real changes in lifestyle have to be motivated by more than just the time of year it is and they have to be motivated by a real desire to make real changes in your life. Otherwise, a list of resolutions becomes a list of things you can't or shouldn't due--a new set of rules that after a few days becomes more of a burden. And while making changes in your lifestyle isn't easy, I think that making different choices should, in the long run, be something this more freeing than a burden.
Which makes it ironic that it was in mid-January just over ten years ago that I signed up for my YMCA membership. My motivation wasn't really a desire to burn off all the calories I'd consumed during the holidays (or really all of them consumed even before the holidays rolled around). My motivation was that a friend had joined and talked me into it. He'd just come off a bad break-up and wanted an accountability person to help make sure he worked out a couple of of times a week. And, we thought, it might be a good way to meet women.
Well, he eventually got back together with the girl in question and eventually married the girl. We made it to the Y a few times at the same time, but he was more interested in weight training while I was all about swimming laps in the in-door pool. Eventually, our pact went by the wayside, but I kept going to the Y...at first it was a struggle to make it three times a week. Then during football season, I figured out that I could watch three or four games at a time while riding the stationary bike and I threw in the occasional Saturday.
Before I knew it, I was at the Y five, six times a week.
In 2001, I figured out that I was burning off calories by working out, but not making the greatest choices about replacing those calories. Or that I was replacing more calories than I burned off. I made another lifestyle choice related to what I ate and strictly monitoring my food intake. It was difficult at first, but I quickly saw some good results....even during football season which is my favorite time to just graze on muchies--esp. if one of my teams isn't doing well. I was part of a weight loss accountability group and soon became "The Biggest Loser" though I didn't mind being called that. I in-grew a lot of my clothes--OK, I in-grew all of them--and basically had to get a whole new wardrobe. I also felt better and had more energy which was a good thing since keeping up with my niece and nephew takes a lot of energy.
Looking back, I kind of laugh at my initial reasons for joining the Y. I wanted to be healthier, but didn't take it as seriously as I should. And the whole wanting to meet women thing--not easy to do when you're swimming laps. Though I hear that sputtering up a lungful of water makes a definite first impression. Not necessarily a good one, but a first impression.
And now, here I am, ten years later. I still go to the Y. Outside of the office and my house, it's probably the place I spend the most time on consistent basis. I've become a spin-class addict and I still swim laps every day I can. I've still got it worked out so I can watch football games on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall now while I work out. Some of the best extra workout time I've ever had was getting caught up in the last-minute drama of a good football game--esp. if one of my teams is involved. (That said, I rarely if ever work out during the Vols games....it's really for the best since the C in YMCA stands for Christian and I'd hate to be asked to leave for shouting at the TV while jumping up and down on the treadmill).
This week, there will be a lot of new faces around the Y. New people coming in who have made resolutions to work out more and be healthier in 2008. Having seen this every year for the past nine years, I won't get too attached to seeing any of them on a regular basis after mid-February. I try not to be too cynical, but my experience says I'll be right on a good percentage. But I do know there may be some who are like I was ten years ago--joining with a desire to make a real change in their lifestyle. And it may take time--more than they think it might. But I do hope that their desire pays off and they do get to make the changes they want in their lives.
Heaven knows I didn't know how my life would benefit from my joining a decade ago. But man, it's been a fun and entertaining ride and with the exception of a few detours, one I wouldn't change for the world.
And part of me hopes that the New Year's resolution new members will stay with it, esp. at the local Y. It would encourage expansion and we'd get the outdoor pool built that much faster. And as long as the new people share the lap lanes, the machines and don't take my spin pass, we'll all get along.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/02/2008 12:51:00 PM