Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On resolutions

It's not stylish to make resolutions these days.

Instead, you're supposed to set small, achievable goals. Then abandon those small, achievable goals within a few months and aim for the same small, achievable goals next December 31. Rinse, and repeat. How this differs from making resolutions, I'm not sure.

For the record, I'm not exempt from all this: after several years I finally removed "learn to cook at least one new thing per month" from my list of resolutions when I realized that a) I don't care much for cooking beyond being able to assemble tasty and sufficiently healthy meals, and b) there are some truly amazing restaurants in my neighborhood. And I'm much happier when I don't feel like a failure for not mastering something in which I'm not even interested.

Now, I'm not arguing that there's no merit in self-improvement (with all due respect to Tyler Durden), but for all the chatter out there about all-juice diets and "skinny-fat" bodies and how grain is Satan himself sitting in a bread bowl, you'd think that whoever dies the healthiest, wins.

Earlier this week, a passage in Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth caught my eye, and I can't get it out of my head:
Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women's history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one....Researchers J. Polivy and C.P. Herman found that "prolonged and periodic caloric restriction" resulted in a distinctive personality whose traits are "passivity, anxiety and emotionality."
Though the word "dieting" is a bit passé (the book was originally written in 1991), the idea is still relevant in this age of so-called clean eating. If you're so preoccupied with what you're putting in your mouth each day that you have little energy or enthusiasm for anything else, or that your dietary regimen sucks the joy out of life, it's not working.

I don't have everything figured out, but I do believe that life is a work in progress. More importantly, though, I believe that life is for living. If that means I eat a quarter pounder once in a while, or never, ever try chia seeds, fine. I'd like to get closer to accepting my own imperfection.

As for everyone else, I'd like to request a resolution to stop taking so many damn selfies.