Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Resolution I Didn't Make

Lots of people make New Year's resolutions to lose a few pounds. I did not, although I began 2013 at my heaviest ever, dangerously close to the limit of our bathroom scale.

I lost 60 pounds this year.

And I didn't even start trying until the end of May. I could write all about how I did it, and I still may, but it's nothing you haven't heard before. If you ask my weight-loss "secret", I'll say it's being neurotic.* Just establish some new behaviors and then get neurotic about adhering to them. It's a way of putting a mental disorder to positive use.

This fall I added a compulsive exercise habit. The last day I didn't exercise was September 19.** I wouldn't say that's the key to my success, though. Richard Muller notes in Physics for Future Presidents that food is so energy-dense that eating less is much more important for weight loss than exercising (though exercise certainly has other benefits).

Even though I didn't make a New Year's resolution to lose weight, it became the defining theme of 2013 for me. Considering how well that turned out, I probably won't bother making resolutions for 2014.

About 17 years ago somebody told me I was neurotic. I didn't think I was. I copied the definition out of Webster's Dictionary (pre-Internet!) and put it in my pocket. Whenever I ran into a friend, I would ask if he or she thought I was neurotic. Then I'd show them the dictionary definition and ask again because the connotative and denotative meanings aren't necessarily the same. The best answer I got was from a woman who said that just by carrying the definition in my pocket and asking people about it showed that I was indeed neurotic.

** I have never been an "exercise every day" person, not even when I biked across the country or ran a marathon, so this is unprecedented. I made a halfhearted resolution to be more active this year after failing miserably in 2012, but I never thought it would lead to this.

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