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  • Helen Row Toews

Prairie Wool

Constant need of improvement

As 2023 arrives, the entire world looks ahead with sincere hopes for better things to come. Amid it all, are we still worrying about New Year’s Resolutions? Roughly 45% of people make resolutions of one sort or another but only about 8% are successful in achieving their goals.

Many plans are for self-improvement, most notably weight reduction and fitness. According to the proprietors of gymnasiums and diet centers, we are in constant need of improvement, but it’s never more urgent than in January. This irritating query into our resolve, coupled with television ads mercilessly attacking our slovenly ways, makes a person feel we had better do something about it—and quick.

I suppose this time of year is synonymous with over-indulgence. Advertisers know full well we’ve taken an extra slab of pie or pounded back enough cheesecake to tip a boat. They count on our guilt over past gluttony and our naive faith in their promise of quick and effortless weight loss. They’re good at it too!

In January of last year I received a letter from a weight-loss company that addressed me familiarly and expressed sincere regret over my unfortunate weight gain and unsightly muffin top. It pointed out how friends have noticed my lack of confidence and mentioned how apparent it was my old sparkle was gone, due to this excess poundage.

Thankfully, their company kindly extended its hand of friendship as it assured me those days would be long gone once enrollment took effect and I received my first shipment of “fat-burning pills”. My question is, how did they know? Are there spies among us? Was I secretly filmed hefting an extra-large salted caramel latte to my lips as I rolled out the drive-through?

Moreover, how can we chocoholics be expected to make responsible choices when so many goodies are promoted during the holidays? Last January, minding my own business, I strolled through a department store on my way to peruse their selection of reduced-price mittens. (It made sense at the time, don’t give me any trouble.) Unexpectedly, a loudspeaker announcement cut into my thoughts. If I could have but known, these fateful words would have a severe and negative impact on my immediate future.

“All holiday chocolates have been reduced to 70 per cent off.”

Several factors come into play here. One is my well-established affection for chocolate and the second is my love of a bargain. Some may use the word cheap as a descriptor, but I prefer to think of myself as thrifty. My daughter often caustically remarks we own nothing if it didn’t first have either a red tag or a yellow label, but she’s young and foolish so we can disregard her bitter lament.

Nonetheless, it was poor judgement indeed which caused me to scurry towards the promised spoils with a gleam in my eye. Telling myself I was purchasing these items to share with deserving loved ones at home, I stuffed my basket and proudly lugged them into the house later that day.

I gained ten pounds before the month was out.

Based on this revealing information, I am hardly one to offer advice concerning New Year’s resolutions aimed at getting in shape. Perhaps it’s best to simply wish your health and happiness in the coming year and end on the insightful words of Mark Twain.

“Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

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