Archive for December, 2008

Please, don’t Resolve to “get healthy” in the new year!

December 31, 2008


There is nothing wrong with setting a goal to walk 30 minutes a day, or to stop buying fat-and-sugar-laden snack foods to keep in the pantry. The problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that they are usually reactive and rarely work.  By reactive, I mean they tend to be the result of a feeling that “I have overindulged” or “been bad” in December, so I will make amends next year.  This kind of thinking is self-defeating.  Diets don’t work, and Resolutions don’t work.  What does work is a full time commitment to practicing specific, realistic behaviors.  The idea of an annual review and re-commitment is not bad, but I suggest the best time to do this might be December 1 — certainly not January 1.

Here is an excerpt from Weight Management for Your Life that may give you some idea why I think December, with all of its “special occasions,” would be a good time to review and renew your healthy-living plan:

If you have been successfully working on changing your eating and exercise patterns for some time, you will encounter situations where someone will say to you “This is a special occasion, so go ahead and eat that cake!” The cake is not the issue, but the implication behind the statement is. People observing your healthier lifestyle will assume you are in a constant state of self-deprivation, and will want to see you “loosen up.” It is important to them to feel okay about
their own “indulgences.” The problem with your buying into that theory is that it discounts the fact that you already are eating (and exercising) the way you want to. You are not depriving yourself – in fact, by doing what you want, you are indulging yourself. Your ongoing healthy lifestyle is its own reward.
Another problem with going back to old unhealthy habits, even temporarily, is that such “special occasions” come up frequently: out-of-town trips, weddings, graduations, birthdays, holidays, cruises, office parties, etc. etc. Add the special occasions with their special “indulgences” or “rewards” up over the course of a year and you have put on an unwanted five to ten pounds. … Special occasions are even more special when they don’t throw you off your chosen path.

Happy new year!


Strong women (2 movies)

December 30, 2008


4monthslrg1The impact (on me) of these 2 movies about women with forceful personalities was huge. I just happened to see them back-to-back and feel compelled to write this note. The first movie is Happy-Go-Lucky, and the main character, Poppy, is a very determined young woman who insists on a “glass-half-full” approach to life and people. The second movie is 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, and its main character, Gabita, is also determined — not to accentuate the positive, but to assert her honest and powerful sense of self in a harsh world (1987 Romania).  Both characters border on being irritating at times, yet I came away admiring them. You may not agree with the choices Poppy makes; and you surely won’t agree with some of Gabita’s decisions.  But you will not soon forget either one.  Warning: while the first movie is a pleasure to watch, the second is very disturbing (it graphically shows an illegal abortion, and many of the scenes will make you extremely uncomfortable).

Spreading happiness

December 19, 2008


Arthur, a friend who lives in D.C., has a blog, which I enjoy a lot.  This is what he says about spreading happiness, which I am putting here as my official Holiday Message:

Recent studies have apparently shown that happiness is more contagious than sadness. The Washington Post this morning [Dec 5] had a box that showed the likelihood that the happiness of someone in your circle would lead to an increase in your own happiness.

Now, I know this sounds weird, but it said that if your neighbor is happy, you have a 34% chance of having your own happiness increased, but that if your spouse is happy, your chance of increasing your own happiness is only 8%.

So, I have been going about this all wrong. I am going to start concentrating on my neighbors (I assume that means the neighbors in the abutting houses; otherwise, it would be exhausting.). I am going to cut their lawns, bring them dinner, take out their garbage, wash their cars, buy their groceries, and pay their taxes.

This will make them the happiest people around, which will in turn make me happier, and my being happy will make them …  even happier.

Of course, my neighbors are my wife’s neighbors, so she will become happier as well without any effort required on her part. Frankly, though, this is, I guess, of no concern to me, because whether she is happy or not will have no effect on me.

On the other hand, the article did not say what would happen if your spouse, or your neighbor, was sad, not happy. Perhaps, this is the converse (obverse?) – my guess is that my neighbors’ unhappiness would have little effect on my mood. But if my spouse was unhappy……….

In that case, I better hope for very, very happy neighbors.