I’m sure you’ll all be relieved to know we survived the first day back to school with little to no drama. And I even discovered that maybe it’s for the best that I’m eventually forced to live an existence that requires some productivity. I put on real clothes and accomplished more by 10:30 a.m. than I did during the entirety of Christmas vacation. If you don’t believe me, then I’ll tell you this. We had Brussels sprouts with our dinner last night. That’s how I know I’m on my A game.
I haven’t made a New Year’s resolution in years. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I made one. And I don’t ever declare a word for the year, mainly because I believe it’s just asking to have to walk that word out in real life and what if I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy on New Year’s Day and decide on a word that I deeply regret come January 17th? For me, it would just asking to potentially loathe myself for all my unbridled optimism.
And, listen, I am happy for you if you can make New Year’s resolutions or figure out a word you want to be the hallmark of your next 365 days. You are a better, more decisive person than me.
But I will tell you my New Year’s weakness.
I cannot resist the beginning of a new year to decide to start eating healthier and exercising more. And before you tell me this is a resolution, I will tell you it’s not. It’s just the cumulative effect of a month of eating like cinnamon rolls are a food group and watching a Netflix show marathon like I’m burning actual calories while I do it. So it’s not so much the new year that brings on this change as it is the smell of regret, which smells coincidentally like the six pieces of chocolate turtle cake I ate while watching bowl games.
A couple of years ago, Gulley and I embraced the clean slate to eat healthy like never before. We cut out sugar, we avoided most carbs, we ate vegetables and drank water like it was our job. I cooked dinners that involved two green vegetables as a side dish to a lean protein which is basically a feat of strength for someone who enjoys a potato almost more than words can express. We snacked on almonds and fruit. At one particularly low point, Gulley called me to tell me she’d gotten so hungry in between meals that she resorted to eating a lone hard-boiled egg as a snack.
However we agreed that as the weeks went on that we felt more energized, our skin looked better, we were sleeping better, our jeans fit looser, and, maybe most importantly, my tongue no longer looked like a person suffering from scurvy.
Then around March something happened. Maybe it was Spring Break or maybe it was when Gulley called me and said she’d made a veggie frittata for dinner and it tasted like sadness. Whatever the case, we fell into a bowl of queso and our days of popping a hard-boiled egg for a snack were over.
But, as if on cue, I spent most of this New Year’s Day on Pinterest pinning all manner of healthy recipes. Oh yes. I pinned things to help me find clean eating snacks and new ways to cook kale and more recipes than I can count that involve quinoa. And, in a moment of sheer madness and optimism, I even purposely searched for “Paleo recipes”. I found a pin for “40 Paleo Weeknight Dinners” and thought SIGN ME UP – I WILL COOK THE HECK OUT OF ALL 40 OF THOSE PALEO DINNERS.
And then I went one step further and looked at the list of things you should avoid on a Paleo diet.
Legumes? But I LOVE legumes. Legumes complete me. All of a sudden I had an urge to find all the crackers and eat them with all the cheese with a side of peanuts and a Diet Coke.
Right about this same time I made myself get off Pinterest because I felt light-headed from all the hypothetical deprivation and checked Twitter to see that I’d gotten a tweet from a girl named Marti who works in Women’s Ministry at one of the churches where Sophie and I spoke last fall and she said, “I see you pinning Paleo. What the what, man?! Quit tripping. Popeye’s don’t qualify.”
It’s like she spoke wisdom into my life at just the right time. Because if a woman I spent one weekend with knows me well enough to know I’m delusional, then I should certainly know it myself. Especially since I’d actually just picked up Popeye’s for myself not even three hours earlier.
And so while, yes I’m attempting to eat healthier to start the new year, I’m also not going to set myself up for total failure (I want to make a joke about the Faileo Diet) by thinking I’d ever be able to adhere to the Paleo diet.
Like William Wallace says in Braveheart, “They may take my sugar cookies, but they’ll never take my dairy.”