Auld Lang Syne

Person celebrating at night by holding sparkler – New Year Christmas Celebration

About a decade ago I resolved to no longer make New Year’s resolutions. I was frustrated that in spite of all of the resolve at the beginning of the year, I ended the year either just as I’d started or worse off. When I did make resolutions, they were nearly always the same.

First, I’d resolve to organize my finances, which meant keeping track of expenditures, check books, and bank balances as well as vowing to save more money. Second, I ‘d pledge to lose weight! The new year would be my year to take control of my expanding waistline. Last on my list was exercise. Hand in hand with weight loss, joining a gym and starting a structured regime was always part of my ‘new year, new you’ resolutions.

My resolve typically lasted until Girl Scout cookie sales in mid-January. On good years, my new eating and exercise plan lasted until my birthday at the end of January. Even when I intended to just celebrate my birthday with one celebratory food-frenzy day, by February 15th, I was trolling for the 75% off Valentine candy sales. After all, I needed to buy enough chocolate to hold me over until the after Easter clearance sales. Once Easter was over, there would be no good candy sales until Halloween in October.

The sweets, treats, and Holiday meals would begin in November with the Thanksgiving holiday, and I would continue eating until the New Year when I cleaned out the kitchen once more, declaring I’d follow whatever financial, weight-loss, and exercise programs I’d yet to try.

Doing it the wrong way

Finally, I gave up on the new year resolving anything. I refused to make resolutions, so that I didn’t disappoint myself each year. I reasoned that the new year was nothing special, and that I could make positive changes in my life whenever I wanted. Unfortunately, the timing of when I started never seemed to matter. It wasn’t when I started that mattered most, it was what I was trying to do.

Every new year’s weight loss plan focused on the same misguided advice. I resolved to eat less and move more. My plan for weight loss was always focused on low-fat foods that tasted terrible, were far different from what I usually ate, required more preparation than I was accustomed to, and left me feeling hungry most of the day.

Instead of helping my resolve, the commitment to exercise made my plan even harder. I hated exercise, and I especially despised going to the gym. At the gym, I was usually the biggest person there. The gym clothes were not flattering to my girth making me even more uncomfortable. Because I sweated profusely, I could only go to the gym when I had time to shower and wash my hair.

A thirty-minute workout took at least a two-hour commitment (20 minutes to change clothes and drive to the gym, 5 minutes to check-in and get started, 30 minutes to work out, 5 minutes to check-out, 35 minutes to drive home and shower, and 30 more minutes to dry my hair, dress, and do make-up). With working full-time and having children, it seemed that I barely had time to fold laundry, so making a two-hour commitment to something I didn’t want to do was doomed from the start. I resolved to no longer commit to something I knew I could not do.

Losing weight once and for all

It was June when I last resolved to lose weight for the final time. There was no “New Year, New You” and no gym membership fees. I didn’t even buy new tennis shoes. I bought food instead. The food I bought was unlike any diet food I’d ever purchased before. Following my very low-carb food lists, I was eating the juiciest cheeseburgers I could find and topping them with bacon, extra cheese, and mayonnaise. The lettuce and tomato were optional.

My meals never left me hungry. In fact, unlike all of my New Year’s diets, the food not only tasted good, but it left me full for hours at a time. So full, that I forgot to eat on day three. My clothes became loose without ever swiping a gym membership card in a locker room door. Two weeks into my “diet”, I even ate a sugar-free cookie and registered a two-pound (one-kilo) lost the next morning. Instead of devising ways to make salads low fat and low calorie, I ignored calories and trusted my body to tell me when it was hungry.

The strongest resolve I needed to stay on my diet was to avoid sugar, starches, flour, pasta, rice—carbs. There were cravings in the first few weeks, but I never fed the cravings with sugars. I fought the cravings with fat and ice water. Bacon is a mighty sword against a sweet tooth! Butter was another secret weapon. Butter can even make broccoli taste good! I kept bacon and butter close by at all times. By the new year, I was a new me — over 55 lbs (25 kg) gone and no more plus sizes.

When the Girl Scout cookies sales began, the universe laughed at me. I was the Cookie Mom for my daughter’s Girl Scout troop! Not only did my daughter sell over 300 boxes of cookies that year, over 600 boxes of cookies were loaded into my car and stored in my dining room until the sale ended in March. For over two months, I counted, loaded, unloaded, and smelled cookies. I stood in freezing winter temperatures with the troop girls to sell cookies in parking lots on Saturdays. Not one cookie ever passed my lips. I found the mere smell of them nauseating. Those cookies were part of my past. The part of my past when I had failed to keep my resolve. The old times that weren’t such fond memories. Some acquaintances should be forgotten.

This year, as the new year approached, I noticed the avalanche of weight-loss commercials and the news stories on the ‘best’ new diets. I listened to friends as they told me how 2018 was going to be different. I smiled and nodded, encouraging them to commit to making 2018 their best year. At midnight on January 1, we welcomed the new year singing, “Auld Lang Syne” meaning something like, “for old times’ sake”. As we sang, I thought about how I was facing the new year with no desperate resolutions about my health. For nostalgia, I could make my old resolution to stick with a ‘diet’ in a 2018. Just like old times, in December 2018, I’ll be ending the year just as I started — following my ketogenic journey.

Kristie Sullivan

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