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Having spent the past two decades as a fitness instructor, I’ve learned a thing or two about New Year’s resolutions. 

I’ve watched class sizes dwindle as gym-goers focus their time from October through December preparing for -- and just trying to survive -- the holiday season. 

And once the last present is unwrapped and the last guest sent on their merry way, gyms everywhere are filled with people trying to absolve themselves of so-called food sins and achieve Olympic-like athletic feats through lists of resolutions longer than their holiday shopping list.

And then … February. Gym numbers drop and stabilize until the next holiday season. Every. Single. Year.

If the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over again while expecting a different result, isn’t it time we knocked that off? Rather than the obligatory “top resolutions” list, how about a list of resolutions not to make? 

Trust me -- I get it. Almost every year I resolve to run a few marathons, never, ever lose my temper with my kids (when it’s usually my fault we’re running late), become a master chef (still working on basic knife skills) and organize my closet and garage so beautifully Pinterest will come knocking. And in the last days of the year, I’m reflect on those goals. I got closer, sure, but overall perfection? Nope. But here’s the thing: Why can’t “closer” be good enough?

Let’s let ourselves off the hook. Yes, examine 2016. What worked for you? What do you need to say “Bye Felicia” to? For 2017, how about resolving to be kinder and gentler with ourselves rather than super-human?

With that, here’s three resolutions I propose we don’t make.

Lose 5 pounds (or 10 or 20)

Being at a healthy weight or BMI is important in the overall scheme of things. Extra weight can strain your most important muscle of all -- your heart -- put undue stress on your joints, affect your mobility and overall quality of life. But: Do you really need to lose 5 pounds to be healthier, or are those 5 pounds what fit star Jillian Michaels calls “vanity pounds?”

Rather than stressing out about how your body will look in the summer (it’s winter, for Pete’s sake), focus on smaller goals that have a big impact overall. Aim to drink eight-plus glasses of water per day. Cut back a bit on sugar and white carbs. Be a bit more accountable for what you eat on the weekends. Add a new ab routine a few days a week. Reasonable, realistic and incremental changes can add up to big results during the course of a year.

Be a better ... (parent, spouse, employee, basket weaver)

Being “better” at anything is an awesome goal, but pretty unmeasurable. How will you know at the end of the year if you achieved Mom-of-the-Year status? Again, cut yourself some slack. How about resolving to reduce screen time in your home a few nights a week and engaging with the family for a walk or a board game? You can become a better cook by booking some knife skills classes rather than expecting every meal to be Instagram-worthy (note to self). Keep it realistic, make it measurable. 

Do more ... (housework, yard work, work-work)

Sure, there are the basic demands on our time that demand our attention -- making sure the grass doesn’t get so long it swallows up the family pets, for instance. But take a close look at what your ego might be beating you up about. Do you really need a perfectly trimmed topiary garden in your backyard, or can you relax and smell the flowers that pop up every year on their very own? Instead of driving ourselves nuts with “shoulds” (one of the most dangerous words in the English language, by the way), how about pressing pause and asking yourself if it’s really important?

After all, at the end of 2017, will you think fondly of the many hours you worked on your beautifully manicured yard, or will you remember the times you spent sitting in your yard with those you love, admiring their beautiful gifts and sharing yours?

Let’s turn that whole resolution thing on its head and have the best year ever.
 

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