Columns

In which I WIN the resolution thing. Kind of.

The thing about New Year’s resolutions is they are so boring. Everyone tends to have the same ones – lose weight, exercise more, work less, play more.

More exotic resolutions tend to leave me scratching my head – learn another language, make a new friend, take a dance class.

Listen, I have enough problems wrestling with the English language every week. I don’t see the friends I do have often enough, and I’m not about to start dancing at 52. My plié is played out, the only tapping I do is my fingers on my desk while waiting for a file to download, and I’d much rather eat salsa than dance it.

I haven’t always been so jaded about resolutions. Indeed, in my teens I’d regularly fill a journal with my goals for the New Year.

You might have noticed that I didn’t marry Andy Gibb.

Or join the Bay City Rollers on tour.

Or entertain Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show” with my witty banter and collection of amusing anecdotes that I dutifully jotted in the aforementioned journals.

Resolutions just never worked out for me. Either they were too lofty or too banal. Even the more creative ways to inspire change or achievement proved unsuccessful.

For example, for several years my high school youth group leader had us write letters to ourselves on New Year’s Eve. We’d then receive these missives in the mail the week after Christmas the following year.

None of those letters remain, but I do vividly remember one that began, “Dear Cindy, Please ALWAYS remember you are AWESOME, no matter what that jerk Donny says.”

Actually, I feel much better just reading that sentence. Perhaps, I’ll tape that above my desk.

Recalling resolutions made me wonder just how this tradition began, so I did a little research. (OK, I Googled it, but research sounds better.)

Apparently, the ancient Babylonians started the ball rolling some 4,000 years ago. During a massive 12-day festival they crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed.

Alas, we can’t hold a presidential election every Jan. 1, though one does wonder why the Founding Fathers didn’t consider this concept. However, it is a good idea to start the year by paying off your library overdue fines, and by returning your mother-in-law’s serving spoon that you’ve had since Thanksgiving 2007. Not that I’d know anything about that.

I told my husband I’d gotten a good start on some manageable goals and wanted to add more.

“Maybe I should get a new hairstyle for the New Year,” I mused.

Derek was dismayed.

“Oh no!” he said. “I love your hair. It’s all Farrah Fawcett-y!”

Obviously, “new hair” is staying on the resolution list.

Scanning an online list of popular resolutions, I considered adding “quit smoking” to mine. Of course, I’d actually have to start smoking and then quit, which seems like way too much work just to chalk something up in the successful resolution column.

I found a list of unusual resolutions that intrigued until I got to “make the usual unusual.” What does that even mean? I usually brush my teeth every morning – should I skip it? I usually look both ways before I cross the street, should I throw caution to the wind?

Also perplexing was the suggestion to “fall in love with life in 2018.” I mean, I like life just fine. You might even say I’m committed to it, but how on earth does one measure the success of falling in love with it?

Speaking of success, further reading revealed just 16 percent of people over 50 achieve their resolutions each year, while 37 percent of people in their twenties do.

It seems resolutions are a younger person’s game.

For me I’m going to stick with the basics. Today, I resolved to get out of bed, get dressed and get this column done.

Hey, two out of three isn’t bad.

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” You can listen to her podcast “Life, Love and Raising Sons” at SpokaneTalksOnline.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/ columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.

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Columns

Workouts offer a Wii fit of frustration

Knowing that every year my New Year’s resolution is the same (to regain the figure I had at 21) this Christmas my husband thoughtfully provided a gift to get me going in the right direction. No, I didn’t find a personal trainer under our tree, nor did I discover a gift certificate for liposuction. Instead, Derek bought me a Wii Fit Plus.

Wii Fit is an exercise-themed game made by Nintendo. You step on a balance board and it measures your weight, tests your balance and tells you your fitness age. The Wii Fit Plus is an enhanced version of the original game. I think the “Plus” means extra frustration at no extra charge.

Our 10-year-old technology expert set up the system for me. Following the instructions, I stepped on the balance board. Within seconds a message flashed on the television screen: “Unbalanced!”

As if that weren’t offensive enough, what followed was worse. My Wii Fit age? Forty-nine. Since that birthday is still five years away, I’m afraid I’ve muttered some uncomplimentary things about my Christmas gift.

I felt better when I discovered I could create my own personal trainer. I named him Sven. He’s a little pale and pasty and his lips don’t move when he talks, but he says positive things like, “Wow! You’re good at that!”

Of course, he said that when I was doing the deep breathing exercise, but it’s nice to have one’s skills appreciated.

The feedback wasn’t as encouraging when I proceeded to some of the more strenuous activities. The program lets you play a variety of games to work on areas like balance, strength training and aerobics.

As my children howled with glee, I attempted to head soccer balls without getting beaned by panda bears or shoes. I missed almost every soccer ball, but was repeatedly struck by the objects I tried to avoid. I think it’s disrespectful for children to laugh at their mom when she gets hit on the head with a soccer cleat.

So, I stepped off the balance board to tell them that. When I resumed the activity, a message flashed across the screen, “I know you took a break during this exercise, but don’t worry, it will get easier.”

That’s just disturbing.

The kids stopped laughing when I aced the step aerobics workout. Jane Fonda and I mastered this routine in the early ’90s. They were also somewhat subdued when I demonstrated my Rhythm Kung Fu competency.

But then I tried Rhythm Boxing. My audience distracted me. If it had been a real match I would have been KO’d in the first 10 seconds. I didn’t fare any better at Hula Hooping, and the Yoga routine exhausted me. I decided to take a break for a couple days.

Not a good plan.

An even worse idea was checking my fitness age at 10 p.m. on Sunday night. The stupid game said I was 62! I’d aged 13 years over the weekend. I blamed it on my kids being home for Christmas break. Well, that and Christmas cookie consumption.

But I didn’t give up. Sven and I are working out every day and the kids aren’t allowed to watch. I just wish my Wii trainer would get a tan and some new exercise attire. Still, he seems pleased with my progress. Yesterday, he said, “Well, persistence isn’t a problem for you, now, is it?”

That persistence is paying off. My latest fitness age is 38! I may never again have the figure I had at 21, but I won’t stop until my Wii Fit Plus tells me I’m 29.

I wonder if I can get that on my driver’s license?

This column first ran in the Spokesman Review, January 7, 2010. Sven and I broke up shortly thereafter.  But I’m pleased to tell you we’ve reconnected and are back to monthly workouts.