“Every day you spend drifting away from your goals is a waste not only of that day, but also of the additional day it takes to regain lost ground”
– Ralph Marston
The “New Year’s Resolution” blog is one of the most overdone things in the digital world but there’s truth to the view that humans desire a clean break from the past when they seek self-improvement. We “go cold turkey” when it’s healthier to make gradual positive progress toward our goals because we fear temptation and lack of motivation. We don’t just end relationships, we burn pictures and unfriend on Facebook and find a new circle to run in to avoid any reminders of the past.
That’s not, however, what I’ll be doing today. I have become increasingly frustrated with my own passivity over the past few years and this is exacerbated by the fact that I have so many opportunities to do better. I am financially, romantically, and mentally stable, which affords me the opportunity to focus on issues both larger and smaller than the foundation of my own life, but I’ve been too complacent. I don’t expect to jump on a plane tomorrow and start a completely new life; I’ll gradually progress toward a new set of goals this year and, regardless of how many goals are fully realized, I’ll measure my success via the satisfaction I find in my attempts.
Fact: I have come to be defined by my drinking
When someone sees the word “Jäger,” they take a picture, post it to Facebook, and tag me. Three of my Christmas presents this year involved Jägermeister. They know my name and my order at the liquor store and three local bars. Back before the Whiskey Ranch was shut down, I’d walk in and Tommy, the bartender, would have two Jäger bombs sitting on the bar for me before I even paid the cover, regardless of how packed they were. In one of my favorite binge drinking stories, I went out with a couple of corporate agents in South Beach and stayed out when they left, only to get kicked out of Mac’s Club Deuce at 2:30 in the morning then get kicked out of the Playwright at 5:00. When I got to the hotel, I asked when the lobby bar opened.
I’ve earned the title of “drinking buddy” rightfully from quite a few of my friends because I’m always up for it, but the truth is that as recently as seven years ago, I did not drink at all. Between the knowledge that I have an addictive personality to the fact that I had more than enough alcohol coursing through my veins as a teenager, I had decided one day many years ago to completely give up alcohol and for several years, I did just that. After spending a few years with Kristin, I had a moment where I realized I was the only person in our circle abstaining and I guess I missed the partying, so I grabbed a bottle and jumped right back in, never to look back or second guess the decision.
Truthfully, I’m glad I did, because we’ve made some crazy memories over the years that I’d never trade for anything. The problem comes when I consider how many nights a week I party compared to how many nights a week I participate in my more healthy passions of reading, writing, activism, anything that doesn’t give me a hangover. I don’t want to lose more nights to Jäger, and I don’t want my drinking to be the thing that defines me most.
Goal one: I will reduce my heavy drinking (more than two glasses in a night) to twice per month
Goal two: I will switch from Jager and Red Bull to clear liquor and non-energy drinks on half of those nights
Fact: Speaking of energy drinks, there are healthier ways to wake up
I wouldn’t want to count the bottles and cans of Mountain Dew that I’ve drank before 10:00 AM over the past year. In mid-2012, Bon Appetit, the company that runs the cafeteria at my employer’s corporate office, assembled a display complete with empty bottles and plastic baggies to demonstrate the precise amounts of sugar (or HFCS) in each drink. At the top was my twenty ounce bottle of Mountain Dew, which looked as if it was somehow more sugar than water. Sure, it woke me up, but I’ve seen friends cut this out of their lives and they just seem to melt about ten pounds from the change.
A few months ago, I traveled to Orlando with some coworkers for a company event and I got quite sick upon arrival. It was terrible, but I tried everything to push through. One of the most helpful things was the peppermint green tea available in the hotel market. I hadn’t had tea in years, but growing up I do remember enjoying sweet tea on a hot day. This wasn’t quite the same, but it definitely wasn’t bad. Two mugs of green tea (unsweetened) provide the same amount of caffeine as a can of the sugar water with a host of other health benefits and without the boost to the waistline.
And, since I just bought Kristin a Keurig machine for Christmas, I can start my day off with a green tea and toss in a black tea for lunch in a matter of seconds. That’s winning all around.
Goal three: Replace my morning Mountain Dew with green and black teas four out of five days each week
Fact: I ran track in high school but couldn’t run a single mile two years ago
In keeping with the health-related theme of this entry, I’m revisiting a topic that has been discussed here before and adding a goal. Readers will know that I finally did achieve the elusive mile on the treadmill over a year ago in an embarrassing but realistic time of 18:00. Over time (and with better shoes), I was able to take that down to 10:43 and, more recently, step up to two miles in 26:43.
While my work hasn’t been consistent, it has been consistently improving. Five weeks ago I managed my first ever 2.5 mile run on the treadmill with a time of 34:30. If I could keep this pace, this would translate to a 5K in just under 43 minutes. Again, not great, but leaps and bounds over what I had accomplished previously. It’s all about marginal improvements for a long-term goal, and that long-term goal has been a 5K for quite some time, but I need to put some numbers on this if I expect to really measure my progress.
I’ll be hitting the gym three times a week (which was my standard while living in Minneapolis and, prior to this vacation, was my standard for December) and pushing through those intervals, working my way up to a 5K even if I fall off the pace, then working on the time. This is another two part goal:
Goal four: Run a 5K event in the first half of the year
Goal five: Run a controlled 5K (at the gym) in under 30 minutes
Much like my 2012 recap, this turned into a longer post than I had expected, so we’ll break it into two parts from here and I’ll post my follow-up on Friday. Comments are always welcome!