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Hacking New Year’s resolutions

Kevin Crittenden

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Kevin Crittenden

New Year’s resolutions usually start off strong.

But by the end of January most have withered away like a forgotten goldfish.

We all know the feeling of excitement on New Year’s Eve. No other holiday carries quite the same kind of anticipation as the turning of the calendar on Dec. 31.

It’s a shot at assessing the trajectory of our lives, letting go of the past and allowing space for new story lines to emerge. Usually this chance for change is embraced with the fullest sense of optimism — for a week or so.

Then the momentum of habit tends to steamroll our vows to improve ourselves.

The goldfish that looked so lively before is mistaken for being dead, not worthy of resuscitation and flushed into the ocean of apathy.

Don’t give up on New Year’s resolutions. Adjust them so they make sense.

As the first week of February rolls in, I’ve had time to evaluate my progress in meeting my resolutions.

As usual, I set the bar ridiculously high.

I chose a fitness goal: to gain 20 pounds of lean muscle mass in four weeks.

Now, in the final week of this experiment in my personal physiology, I weigh only five pounds more than when I started.

I knew going into this regimen would not feel healthy. I was prepared to overfeed to the point of feeling sick to see what is possible in terms of physical transformation.

I was trying to satisfy my own curiosity about the physical potential of my body’s growth. If bigger is better, I wanted to find out. But it turns out lugging around a bigger body has its drawbacks if you’re not naturally built that way.

I followed the words of Timothy Ferriss’ book, “The Four Hour Body.”

“Treat eating as your job,” he states in the book.

I did. I ate a ridiculous amount of chicken, protein bars, potatoes, sausage, more protein bars and clumpy whey powder milkshakes.

Walking around feeling like the Michelin Man wasn’t really my idea of a life-enhancing change. I thought the bloating would fade as my body adjusted to the increase of lactose and caloric intake. It didn’t.

Not only did I feel less energetic, I had to make frequent stops to the bathroom to vacate my overcrowded intestines.

Feeling like a walking nuclear reactor is a harrowing experience. Tuna, chili and macaroni and cheese are not so fun to eat together, or much fun on the way out.

I don’t want to be a gym monkey so swollen with muscle that I can barely put a T-shirt on. I’ll be looking for the middle ground between Incredible Hulk and string bean, eating more broccoli and drinking less milk.

Besides, New Year’s resolutions may as well be made every day.

There’s no particular reason why we need to wait until January to care enough to make changes that matter.

Don’t flush that scraggly goldfish down the toilet. It might grow into a koi if given a chance.

Kevin Crittenden can be reached at [email protected] or @kevlodius.

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Hacking New Year’s resolutions