“I want to see fat Spencer,” my roommate Kelly calls out.
“You knew fat Spencer! Fat Spencer was the Spencer you first met,” I reply.
“It’s been too long. I’ve forgotten.”
“Here,” I say, handing Kelly a photo from September 2011.
“Wow. Hard to believe it’s even the same person. But congrats on being able to land a wife with that body.”
“Yeah, thanks. That’s how I know I have a great personality.”
Four years ago I was pretty large, pushing 250 pounds. Now, I’m down to about 190. Mine is not one of those stories where I made a New Year’s resolution to get healthy and over the course of twelve months went from being fat to having ripped abs. I still don’t have ripped abs…because french fries are still delicious. My weight loss journey has hardly been a steady course of shedding pounds.
I decided to actually start exercising on a regular basis around the middle of 2012. The first time I went running by choice, I sprinted as much as I could for about 15 minutes. Then, I came home and laid on the kitchen floor, breathing hard and waiting for the urge to vomit to pass. My wife kept looking over from the couch asking if I was OK. Since that time, there have been plenty of ups and downs and long, long plateaus where it seemed like nothing was happening. But when I look back on that picture from 2011, I’m reminded that things were happening, even if it wasn’t as quickly as I would have liked.
That’s why I still make New Year’s Resolutions, because I still believe that change is possible. I still believe that my life isn’t something that’s just handed to me, it’s something I create and shape.
Don’t get me wrong. Just like everyone else, I still fail to reach my resolutions a lot of the time. At the beginning of 2015, I wrote down about 20 different things that I wanted to do over the course of the year. Many of them didn’t happen. Here are a few of the failures from 2015:
Do at least 12,000 push-ups. “1,000 push-ups a month? 34 push-ups a day? That’s so easy. I can knock that out in, like, 5 minutes a day,” the January 2015 version of myself thought. I was so young and naive. Pretty sure this goal was abandoned sometime before March.
Post on this blog 24 times. Guess how many times I posted? 7. I was hoping to post once every two weeks and I barely made it to once every two months. If 24 was the field goal post, my kick ended up hitting the Gatorade cooler on the side lines.
Take 4 classes. There are lots of classes I’m interested in. Comedy classes, art classes, fencing courses (instead of just wearing a catcher’s mask and swinging a broom stick around the backyard). I could go on. Classes are expensive, but I thought I could at least manage one per season. In 2015, I ended up taking one class. Twelve months, and I could only manage a single class. (To be fair with this one, I did sign up for another class that ended up getting cancelled, but still.)
Despite the failures, I keep making resolutions because there were a few resolutions that were actually a success. Here are a few of the victories from 2015:
Run 400 miles. In 2014, I ran roughly 300 miles, so I upped the goal to 400 for 2015, just over 1 mile a day. I ended up running 562. Yeah, I know. I’m basically more talented than Usain Bolt.
Launch a web comic, and have the first 15 entries posted by the end of the year. Did it. It’s been hard and more time-consuming than I hoped it would be, but I still did it. In fact, I posted 19 entries in 2015.
Pay off at least $10,000 in debt. Yep, did it. Suck on that, student loans from hell.
Resolutions are hard. There’s no doubt about it. And people are very quick to mock you when you say you have some. Seriously, watch people try to choke down their laughter if you ever use the phrase, “New year, new me” in a non-ironic way.
But the truth is, there’s probably something you want to change about your life. You wish had a better job, wish you spoke up more, wish you had a better relationship with your parents, wish you knew how to cook bacon without turning the bottom of the pan black and filling your apartment with smoke (some of these might be some of my own stuff coming through). Maybe people have told you you can’t change. Maybe you’ve told yourself that. But you can, even if the change is slow course of tiny steps in the direction you want to go. Don’t be scared of the word resolution.