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Wednesday, 02 January 2008 00:00

Remember – every year is a new year

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So it’s the New Year. The ball has dropped, the parties are all over, your Kool and the Gang album has been tucked away for another year, and Dick Clark has gone back into his jar of formaldehyde. Did you make some New Year’s resolutions? I just bet you did. One great thing about Americans is how plucky we are. Every year, we make various resolutions: to lose weight, contribute more to charities, write more letters, be better neighbors, and watch less television. And every year, let’s face it, we fail miserably.

 

In January, we hit the gym with gusto. All decked out in our brand new, but not too tight or revealing, workout clothes, we descend on health clubs like a swarm of portly bees. We bench press, we lunge, we squat, we curl. We max out, lift for high reps, go for supersets, torch those quads. Then we bust over to the cardio room and hop on the treadmill, burn some calories there, then move on over to the stepper. Finally, we finish up on the stationary bike before hitting the steam room, or the hot tub. All totaled, our workout has lasted about 38 minutes, 17 of which was spent watching a tanned trainer named Donnie exhibiting proper form at each of our “stations.”

The next day, we feel like one giant bruise, from top to bottom, from inside out. We look in the mirror and notice a marked resemblance between the person standing there and the person who stood there a week ago. The only noticeable difference is the grimace. This will go on for a couple more weeks. Every day, we’ll look at the mirror, expecting to see signs of improvement, at least some subtle suggestion of muscle tone, or a slightly tighter waistline. But no. There is just the grimace. By the last week in January, we’ll hit the gym once, maybe twice.

In February, we’ll spend more time in the Louvre then we’ll spend in the gym. We’ll read an article in a magazine assuring us that our bodies are “normal,” and congratulate ourselves on our lack of vanity. As a reward, we’ll head to the kitchen to fetch a bulk-size bag of M&M’s. That walk — from the living room to the kitchen — will be the best cardiovascular exercise we get all day.

By the end of February, Donnie will be a distant memory, and our “very slightly used” workout clothes will be for sale on eBay. The grimace will be gone for good ... or at least until next New Year’s, when we go through this cycle all over again.

We’ll watch less television for awhile, then get addicted to a new reality show and some new sitcom with one of those guys who used to be a movie star in the 1980s — what was his name? We’ll be nicer to our neighbor, until his dog keeps us awake all night barking at who knows what. We always thought that was one very stupid dog. We won’t get around to writing any actual letters, although we’ll buy some postcards at the beach and then forget to send them.

In other words, the new year, like our unchanged, gym-addled bodies, will bear a remarkable resemblance to the year that came before it, most likely. And, hey, was it really such a bad year?

So, go ahead and make those resolutions. Every year is a new year. We stand here in the first week of it like a golfer standing on the first tee of an 18-hole course. Anything could happen. We might set records. We might have the best year of our lives. We might write those letters. We might lose that 20 pounds. We might stop watching that dumb sitcom, and revisit the plays of Mr. William Shakespeare. We might buy the neighbor’s dog a month’s worth of dog biscuits, for no good reason.

I’ll see you in the gym. I’ll see you there in February. I’ll promise, if you will.

(Chris Cox is a writer and teacher who lives in Waynesville. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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