Why she said “enough already!” to New Year’s resolutions

in Potpourri by

New Year, new you.

Wait, what’s wrong with the old me? Suddenly I’m not good enough?

New Year’s resolutions used to be the stick with which I’d beat myself up annually. I wasn’t thin enough. Fit enough. Prolific enough. I wasn’t flossing after every meal. And what about that $200 microdermabrasian thingie I only used twice?

It was a short list, but the stick grew longer with each passing year as:

  • The five pounds I’d resolved to lose crept off and on.
  • The excuses for not working out outnumbered the times I did.
  • My daily word count refused to budge.

The vicious cycle would begin again the following year.

Then one year I thought, what if I resolved to make no resolutions? What would happen?

Nothing, I feared.  And not in a good way, but like in old movies when the doctor says gravely, of a coma patient, “No change.”

But I gave it a go, and a funny thing happened. I found I was happier, less stressed and—gasp!)—thinner. Gone was the five pounds that had clung like the layers of dead skin on my face. I realized I didn’t need self-improvement. I only needed to be nicer to myself.

The three things on my anti-resolution list:

Love my body

Butts-too-big

As a kid I thought about my body in terms of what it could do.  It could run, ride a bike, climb trees. As I grew older, all that mattered was how it looked. At 14 I went on what would be the first of many diets to come.

I wasn’t fat. But self-loathing isn’t measured in pounds. Whether you’re five or 50 pounds overweight, if you’re like most women, you make a face when you see yourself naked in the mirror. Imagine if someone else were looking at you with disgust. You’d think them horribly rude. I didn’t want to be that person.

Do unto yourself as you would want others to do unto you.

Another reason to smile when you look in the mirror? You’ll look younger.  This I learned years ago when I nearly went under the knife to have my neck tightened. Days before the surgery, in reviewing the pre-op photos, the doctor explained he’d have to lift my sagging skin to the level of my mouth. He suggested I go further, which he likened to “pulling up pantyhose.” It sounded so sensible that I found myself agreeing.

It wasn’t until I told my husband that reality sank in with the look of horror on his face. “You do realize,” he said, “you’re talking about a facelift.” I took another look at the photos.  And it hit me: I hadn’t noticed those lines before was because normally in photos I’m smiling. A smile is an instant facelift.

I cancelled the surgery and smile a lot more these days.

Work out for the fun of it

Eileen_Bike

When did working out become a chore? I remember when it was called playing.  Sure, I had more energy as a kid. I also had the right attitude.

I wanted to get back to that. Every autumn I go away to the country. This year I bought myself a bike. I felt like a kid again whizzing around the country lanes on my pistachio-green one-speed.

Wheeeeee!

Back home, I traded my Lycra gym duds for comfy cotton T-s and leggings. When I’m not walking the city streets I’m on the treadmill. I even look forward to the gym. Why? I gave myself permission NOT to go, to only do what made me feel good.

Stop measuring myself by the success of others.  

When I self-published my first mystery, Bones and Roses, however much I did to promote, it wasn’t enough. Then I’d beat myself up because my writing output had slowed. I needed to step it up! Be like Bella Andre!   

Then I realized I hadn’t cooked a meal in ages, and I love to cook.

It was time to tie on my apron.

This year give yourself the gift of saying “I don’t need be more or do more.”  You’ll thank yourself.

 

is the New York Times bestselling novelist of 15 women’s fiction titles with more than 6 million copies of her novels in print worldwide. Book One of her Cypress Bay mystery series, Bones and Roses, was just released and she’s working on Book Two, Swimsuit Body. She lives in New York City with her husband, television reporter and film critic Sandy Kenyon.