As another year draws to a close, our minds may still be lingering in the luxury and relaxation of recent festivities, but in a a short time New Year’s Day will wrap up the holiday season, and our minds will likely shift back to pragmatics. But before we jump back to reality, give yourself a pat on the back —you’ve survived the chaos that was 2017!


Now on to resolutions, and why I am not about to spend this article advocating for them. Many resolutions are centered around losing weight, and while I resent the sudden spike in gym memberships in January —forming a queue at the treadmills —that’s not the (entire) reason why I am opposed to the sudden adamant weight loss fervor that many people take up in January and for the most part drop come February. The thing is, health shouldn’t be a fad or a trend or something we only commit ourselves to at seasonal intervals.


The reason why most diets fail is because they are impractical. They are based upon restriction and denial and marketed as something that you do for a period of time to have your bikini body ready for the summer. And then what? Even if the diet works out and you muddle through the sudden severe change in food intake, you will most likely regain the weight in record time once the diet is “complete” and bikini season has faded back into bulky sweaters and scarves. In order to permanently alter one’s body, a lifestyle change is needed —one that promotes health, happiness and well-being and is centered on exercise and self-love.


On the other hand, plenty of people don’t need to change their bodies. People, women especially, can be highly critical of their corporeal forms. If only I was a little thinner, I would be… What is the answer? Happier, more confident, better, more attractive, more adept to equip the world? How many of the reasons truly focus on health? Instead of wishing the reflection in the mirror would change in order to improve one’s life, why not make your own happiness? Instead of passing on sweets in order to squeeze back into those jeans, why not allow yourself the moment to indulge and enjoy a treat?


Now it sounds like I’m sending a conflicting message. At one hand, I am advocating adapting an overall healthy lifestyle that should be maintained throughout the year, while I am then promoting indulgence. The key to it all is balance. Balancing the “yes’s” with the “no’s” and understanding that a truly fulfilled life is one that merges pleasure with health. While it’s not alright to drive your health bills through the roof because you can’t put down the Whataburger every day, it is perfectly okay to accept you will never squeeze back into your skinny jeans. Donate them to Goodwill and buy a size up! I guarantee you will feel better. Sometimes it is perfectly fine to cut yourself some slack and realize you are alright just the way you are.


I am not an optimist, but rather a realist. I have spent a ridiculous portion of my life dedicated to achieving impossible standards that left me restricting my calories down to several hundred a day. I can tell you the hard way: it’s not worth it. Dealing with such obstacles —we all have our personal struggles —leaves me grateful for my health, for my strong, functioning limbs and ability to navigate the world on a daily basis.


True, lasting happiness is almost impossible to obtain if we only look inside ourselves. Yes, the entire key for happiness lies withing oneself — change your mind, change your world — but in order to be truly fulfilled in life, we must also serve others. New Year’s resolutions often focus on aspects we seek to change about ourselves and our lives. Instead, if you are going to set goals, they should focus on others. How can we better the lives of someone else, be kinder, more proactive, more outspoken and caring? When we focus on people in need aside from ourselves, it is incredible how much our own problems tend to shrink in proportion.


And guess what? Even if your life may have fallen into a rut or veered off track, you can’t help but evolve. Change is a guarantee, perhaps the most thrilling and terrifying aspect of life. It’s common estimate that every cell replaces itself in the human body within seven years, making us physically entirely new people. It is inevitable along the way that our minds change as well, as we become open to more enrichment, enlightenment, knowledge, hardships and the vast amount of stimulation that surrounds modern existence.


Our minds shouldn’t only be refreshed each January. It’s a constant process that continuously requires tuneups and sometimes start overs, but we should be on track to be the people we want to be year round.


Emma Polini is the managing editor of the Van Alstyne Leader, Anna-Melissa Tribune and Prosper Press. What do you want in your paper? Email her at epolini@heralddemocrat.com to let her know.