New Year’s Resolutions

Today is Jan. 3. How many of your New Year’s Resolutions have already been broken?

Maybe not many, because, it seems, no one makes resolutions anymore. Not breaking a resolution is easier, I guess, if you don’t make it in the first place. And everyone else always fails at their resolutions, right? A good friend in Idaho laughs at the newbies who show up at the gym every January for a few weeks — never to be seen again. People have to really want to change, she would say, and they can’t do it by simply resolving on Jan. 1 to make changes.

Maybe so.

But ever the optimist, I disagree even though my own track record supports her more-skeptical point of view. In a column published Saturday by my newspaper, the Muscatine Journal, I wrote about my professional resolutions for 2010.

Since no one is reading this blog anyway, it seems like a safer forum for my personal resolutions to:
1. Lose 50 pounds by July 25, 2010, which is when RAGBRAI XXXVIII will begin in a yet-to-be-announced town in western Iowa.
2. Walk a little closer with God.

Saying this makes me feel like a bit of a cliche. But, as I think about it, these things are interconnected and achieving one of them is unlikely if I don’t address both of them.

I have some experience when it comes to losing weight. Keeping it off has always been a problem. At my heaviest, I weighed 360 pounds. I celebrated my 40th birthday, a little more than three years ago, after having lost 100 pounds or so. Thin was within reach.

What I learned during this time was how I had used food to compensate for the frustrations of my life. I am a textbook example of an emotional eater. I eat and drink when I am angry, bored, scared, frustrated, or anxious. And this is a very hard habit to break.

One of the people who helped me lose the weight three years ago, said I would have to address the issues I had been denying by overeating to satisfy emotional needs. I knew she was right, but then life threw a curve and I found myself needing to make a job change and move. Within a year, I found myself back home in Iowa, starting over and paying for past mistakes.

My denial about this has kept me from admitting publicly that I screwed up in my last job, lost it and came to Muscatine to prove it had all been a mistake from which I had learned. It’s not been easy, but I am on track professionally. In February, the Muscatine Journal is going to win more than 20 journalism awards. But I’ve paid a price, watching my weight go to back to more than 300 pounds.

 My goal today is to get back on track by being honest: I am a compulsive overeater.

I can lose the weight because I’ve always been good at achieving goals. But I’m going to need God’s help to keep it off and tackle the demons that lead me to overeat in the first place. Then, and only then, will I be able to begin living like the happy, active and fit 43-year-old who is inside of me and waiting to come out.

For today, I can say I have:

1. Signed up for a weight-loss competition that begins this week at the YMCA.

2. At least listened to a sermon on the radio. Ironically, it was about the ways God challenges us. Next week, I aim to get my big butt to a church on Sunday.

3. Identified a program that I think will help me address some of the spiritual and other issues in my life in order to have a healthier relationship with food.

If I’m successful at all of this, I’ll be able to write about it in more detail in the future.

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