A few days before New Year’s Eve, my fiance announced he would be making a number of New Year’s resolutions as we entered 2010. Among them, the admirable feats of eating better and going to the gym.
My dear, ambitious fiance then asked if I planned on making any. I said “No, of course not. No one ever keeps New Year’s resolutions.”
Or at least I don’t.
In the past, I have been sucked into the New Year’s Resolution vortex. In many past late Decembers, the potential cleansing power of the approaching new year has moved me to shake off the turkey-induced holiday stupor and resolve to better myself. In fact, I often committed to just the same things as my fiance. To eat better. To exercise more. To finally get that six-pack and forever banish the cellulite from my butt and thighs. (Ok, maybe the cellulite thing is just me)
Often, these resolutions were broken by Jan. 2. Because really, who wants to exercise in the middle of winter? And how can one be expected to eat healthy when there’s leftover pumpkin pie and chocolates that must be finished off?
The oddest part is that these broken resolutions made me — a woman who already worked out four or five times a week with a pretty good track record of eating healthy 80 per cent of the time — feel like an utter failure. Following the making and breaking of my resolution to eat better and exercise more, I felt even further away from my goals than I was pre-resolution.
So no, I said to my dear, ambitious fiance. I will not be making any resolutions this year.
But as Dec. 31 drew near, I felt that familiar urge the new year brings. What if this could be my year, I thought. What if I could finally have the health, the energy and the joy I’ve always wanted? What if this is the year I finally learn to make my mind, body and spirit work as the power team I know they could be? Most interestingly, I thought, what if my past failures to follow through on a resolution were pre-destined by the nature of the resolution itself?
That is to say while in the past I had resolved to score six-pack abs and a dimple-free butt by the time the ball dropped next year, I was ignoring my true life’s desires. Having a flat tummy and toned bum wouldn’t give me more energy. They wouldn’t make me a more vibrant or a stronger person — hell, they wouldn’t even get me through a marathon (unless I could use them to coerce some poor runner to carry me to the finish line).
Perhaps then, these things I was resolving to work toward weren’t actually things I really wanted but rather things I associated with the kind of person I wanted to be.
So I resolved at that time, in the spirit of my revolutionary thoughts, to compose a New Year Manifesto.
A manifesto is a “public declaration of opinions, objectives, or motives as one issued by a government, sovereign or organization” — or, in my case, by a slightly loopy redhead. A manifesto of the New Year variety, is one issued upon or around New Year’s which addresses objectives and motives for the coming year.
It is different from a resolution because (this is the part I love), it can’t be broken. It’s not something you resolve to do. It’s a public declaration of what you want. Moreover, the hope is that the whole public declaration part will shame the manifesto writer into following through on the stated objectives in order to spare one’s self the humiliation of an unfinished task.
So here it is:
I, the undersigned, am a young woman who has been raised in a world where, despite being intelligent, healthy, strong and vibrant, I am made to feel that I am not enough. The messages I receive tell me that in order to count, I must be shaped like a Barbie doll with an impossible hour-glass figure and legs from here to Toledo. I am told, in a million different ways each day through the media I consume, that until I’ve got 10% body fat composition, I don’t matter.
For a long time, I bought into the lie and resolved to work toward this unattainable image. This always and inevitably ended in failure.
I propose, then, a new psychology. My body will no longer be my enemy. I will no longer fight and try to make it into something it will never be (I mean, let’s face it; I’m 24 and my boobs aren’t going to get any bigger). Instead of subscribing to the predominant image of health and beauty, I’ll make my own. Health will be that which makes me feel good, which does good for my body, mind and spirit. Beauty will be the result.
This means I may never have a washboard stomach and I may always have dimples on my butt. I accept that and I aim instead for increased strength, energy and joy. I will exercise and eat well because I want to treat my body with respect. I will take days off from exercising and indulge in pleasurable, if somewhat unhealthy foods, because I want to treat my mind and spirit with respect. I will find balance.
My wish is someday women everywhere will learn to love themselves in this way, that they will strive to be healthy and find happiness there, that they will take care of their bodies and no longer punish them for what society wrongfully implies are imperfections. With this in mind, I propose to share my experiences on this journey in the hopes that other women may find inspiration there.
Phew. Now that’s a manifesto. Marx, eat your heart out.
Anyhow, the plan is that I will be back here regularly and often, writing about my journey’s highs and lows, my insights and frustrations and also sharing recipes, workouts and other healthy living stuff.
I don’t expect this will be a picnic (mmm, picnic). Change doesn’t come easy to me. Neither does balance, being the all-or-nothing kinda gal I am. What I promise is to be blunt, honest (I did mention my cellulite-covered butt about 20 times in this post, after all) and (I hope) mildly entertaining.
See you soon.