Cathy Hamilton: New decade, new me

It has all started, people. New year, new decade, new me.

Yes, I realize that, technically, 2010 began several days ago. But, have you ever seen any real positive change occur on the weekend following a Thursday New Year’s Eve? Let’s get real, shall we?

Some of us — and I’m not naming names — woke up around noon Friday (OK, more like 2 p.m.), shook off the cobwebs and said, “It’s clean living for me from here on out. No more booze, fattening foods or irresponsible behavior! From now on, I’m all about diet and exercise, focused energy and simplified living. Now, why am I wearing this strange red kimono?”

Then, what did we do? Hit the leftover chips and dip, mixed up a little hair of the dog, and hunkered down on the couch to watch parades and football all day.

At halftime, we attempted a couple of half-hearted leg lifts and took a stab at organizing our closet. But, just as we bagged up the first pair of too-tight sweats for Goodwill, brownies beckoned from the kitchen.

Next thing you know, we were whipping up black-eyed pea salsa for good luck and — snap! — sloth and gluttony triumphed for one more day.

Saturday was no better. Why? Because who on the planet turns over a new leaf on a Saturday?!

How can anyone expect us to exercise on a cold winter’s day when there’s a “Real Housewives” marathon on Bravo? Besides, everyone knows that before you can start a diet, you must purge your fridge and cupboards of all tempting, bad-for-you foods. There are four jars of Christmas jam, chocolate-covered pretzels, a half-tin of brownies and a Neiman-Marcus fruitcake to dispose of.

What are we supposed to do, thrown them in the trash? And what are we expected to do with all the wine people gave us over the holidays? Let it sit there in the rack, tempting us all year?

Don’t even talk about saving money. An honorable resolution by anyone’s standards, but on a Saturday when white sales and clearances abound on the Internet?! Be serious now.

Then, there’s the “last dinner out for a while” ritual that must be respected. The last restaurant dinner before the diet begins is a feast like no other. You dress up in your best elastic waistband pants. Make a reservation some fancy place. Appetizers and dessert are a given. All bets and restrictions are off, and it must be done.

The “last dinner out” is a requisite for every successful weight loss endeavor I’ve ever had, and we’re talking hundreds.

That brings us to Sunday, which, as we all know, is a day of rest. No one — not even God — expects us to labor on the Sabbath. Working on self-improvement is exactly that: work. And that, my friends, is strictly verboten by the Ten Commandments. I have it on good authority that God will make an exception for taking down the Christmas decorations, but only if you consume lots of brownies to make the task seem less laborious.

Now that we’ve established why New Year’s resolutions don’t become official until Monday morning, you’re probably wondering how 2010 will be the best year ever for this ever-hopeful, pie-in-the-sky-eating Pollyanna.

What does this new me look like? Thinner, fitter, more organized and accomplished?

Yes, yes, yes and yes! But, it’s not going to happen overnight.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, resolutions are all about baby steps. I’ve failed in the past because I bite off more than I can chew, and I’m not talking about brownies (although, come to think of it, biting too many gooey chocolate-walnut delights might have been a factor).

This year, I’m going to keep my expectations in check.

For instance, I resolve to lose weight. But instead of my usual 1-2 pounds-a-week goal, I’m shooting for 1-2 ounces.

And I will save money this year. Not dollars, just dimes. I will sock away all the dimes I can find. This time next year, I’ll spend them on a nice treat for myself. At the bakery down the street, for instance.

I even resolve to finally learn a second language in 2010. But instead of completing Level One in the Rosetta Stone Spanish program, I’ll commit to learning to pronounce every item on my favorite Mexican restaurant’s menu.

Baby steps, people. Starting tomorrow. Now, did someone mention brownies?

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