Here it comes.
The day when many of us will pledge to change everything we don’t like about ourselves in one fell swoop is now only hours away.
For most of us, that means a renewed oath to exercise more and to eat less or, at the very least, to adopt a healthier diet.
For others, it may be the day we choose to quit or cut back on an unhealthy habit, whether it’s cigarettes or that third glass of wine after dinner.
But for a good chunk of us (myself included) Friday’s New Year’s resolutions will include a vow to finally — finally —drop those excess pounds.
Don’t believe me? Just try to get half an hour on a treadmill at your gym come Saturday morning.
If you’re a regular, you’ll likely find a whole lot of unfamiliar, spandex-clad figures populating the cardio room when you arrive for your first workout of 2016.
The good news (if you can call it that) is if you can just muscle your way through, the crowds won’t be a problem for more than a month or two.
That’s because most of us will take on too much and, in doing so, give ourselves little chance of long-term success.
One way we mess up is in trying to change too many aspects of our personality at once — breaking all our old bad habits and forming a bunch of new good ones immediately.
It is so very human of us to need to attach change to some arbitrary date — this one, in the middle of winter.
New Year, new start.
Granted, the turn of the calendar page falls conveniently at the end of a month-long binge session, so from that perspective, the timing isn’t bad.
But that doesn’t mean the next three months of winter won’t be filled with their share of pitfalls.
For those who make it past the chocolate Valentine onslaught in mid-February, there’s Easter to contend with.
Winter potlucks, dinners out with friends to cheer ourselves during the dark, rainy season, buckets of hot buttered popcorn at the movies as we huddle indoors — it’s a veritable minefield.
None of these things is inherently bad, nor an insurmountable hurdle to self-improvement, in and of itself.
The problem is in the attitude we bring to the (fully loaded) table.
We set ourselves up to fail when we treat New Year’s resolutions as a form of punishment — or penance — for past behaviour rather, than as an opportunity to simply take better care of ourselves — to start doing more of the things we know will make us feel better, and to work at doing less often, the things that, in the long run, will make us feel worse.
It needn’t be drastic.
Not everyone is cut out to run a marathon or adopt a vegan diet.
It can be something as simple as incorporating a daily brisk walk into our schedules and endeavouring to eat healthy during the week, while allowing the odd indulgence on weekends.
What matters is having a manageable plan, doing our best to stick to it and being willing to cut ourselves a bit of slack when the occasion calls for it.
And, if all else fails, we can always work on making Spring Equinox resolutions a thing.