No resolutions, no problem
The holidays are always hectic, and this year was no exception for me. That means I've been trying to ease into the New Year, sort of picking myself up, dusting myself off, and making some plans--but not resolutions. For the last few years, I haven't done resolutions. It's not that I don't think people should make plans, or change their lives if they want to, or use the new year as a time to start some new project...it's just that I think you can do those things or make those changes at any time. Before I say anything else, let me be clear about this: if starting a new project at the new year works for you, then that's awesome and I wish you well in whatever it is that you are pursuing. Ok, that said, here's why I don't do New Year's resolutions any more: they all feel like part of a huge marketing ploy, and the biggest by far is the join a gym/weight loss/ "healthy eating" package-deal resolution. I'm not opposed to any of those goals, but I am opposed to the huge marketing push wherein spokespeople start talking about "swimsuit season" (in January, even!) and trying to make people feel guilty for indulging in some holiday treats. In one weekend, I saw Mariah Carey's creepy commercial pushing Jenny Craig (although it never says that she actually lost weight using Jenny's plan), Jennifer Hudson's Weight Watchers commercial where she kills Lenny Kravitz's beautiful, non-weight loss related song "Believe," and even a Charles Barkley ad for Weight Watchers for men. I'm fine with the idea that the new year represents a new opportunity, but not with the message that you are not living your life to the fullest if you are "overweight" or that it is ok for people to call a fellow human being "the bread truck" (or having weight loss show like the "The Biggest Loser" with its offensive double meaning and implications about the worthlessness of fat people). Even though I have never been a Barkley fan, I don't think calling the man "the bread truck" is OK, and I just want to state for the record that I'd deck anyone who gave me a nickname even remotely approaching that one. You have been warned.
So what is a foodie and a person of size to do in the face of so much media pressure? I've been working out and it's all good, but I don't do it because the media tells me to...do I? Do I need to now carry around a tiny notebook in which I keep track of my carb intake? Am I supposed to eat powdered food, go to meetings where they weigh me and then shame of praise me on the basis of what the scale says, or start drinking my meals or replacing dinner with cereal? Hell to the no. I guess I just have a different, and I hope more expansive, view of wellness. For me, eating well and being healthy is, in part, about eating real food--not powder, not Lean cuisine, not stuff that is loaded with preservatives, artificial ingredients and dyes, and tastes like cardboard, but is considered "fine" because it doesn't have any fat or is low-cal/high fiber/low on the glycemic index/insert faddish diet thing here. Preparing food at home gives me a better sense of what I'm consuming as well as giving me a sense of balance since I put energy out in preparing my meals and then, of course, consume that food and generate more energy that allows me to do other things. When I cook, I have fun, bond with others, and learn things. I am creative, I experiment, I think fast. I have kitchen hustle like you wouldn't believe. I'm guessing even Charles Barkley would be amazed at my deftness and agility. So it was a very mild form of protest, but I intended my lack of resolutions and my weekend of cooking as my own private rebuttal to the dieting ads that felt like they were coming at me from all sides. I spent New Years weekend at home cooking with my honey, watching sports on TV (who scheduled the Winter Classic and the Rose Bowl game so they conflicted? WHO?!), and playing a totally addictive new game we got for Christmas. It was heavenly, and at the end of it all, there were homemade tamales, chocolate chip cookies, and a loaf of oatmeal sourdough bread (tamale recipe to follow in an upcoming post, but it's still being perfected).
If you find that you must, must diet as part of a New Year's resolution, then I'd never try to talk you out of it, but the people that conceive of the corporate ad campaigns that make tons of money from giving people body shame and making them obsessive about fat intake, gym time, etc., well, I hope they get hit by a bread truck. ;) Ok, ok, so I don't really wish that upon them. What I do wish is that all of you have a very happy and healthy 2012, however you define those things.