— Ed Smith
English author, journalist
and former cricketer
(b. July 19, 1977)
America, it’s that time again. Don’t squint your eyes in disbelief. Don’t roll your eyes. And don’t close your eyes. Turn to the next page if that’ll make you feel better, but to borrow an annoying adage that tires me with its over-use, “It is what it is.”
This is what it is ... by my calculations, we are less than 48 hours away from the start of all those new New Year’s resolutions.
Was that thunder ... or just the collective gulp of thousands of Cleveland and Bradley County residents uttering a shared moan?
Sadly, neither the Cleveland City Council nor the Bradley County Commission in late 2012 passed ordinances outlawing resolutions in our hometown. That means we’re still under personal mandate to improve ourselves, our lives and our lifestyles as a welcome mat into 2013 ... even if it hurts.
Obviously, this is a lighthearted take on what should be a serious matter. Resolutions have their place in society if sustained with conviction and not just words. Let’s face it, who among us couldn’t use a little adjustment? Perhaps less stress or at least learning how to better deal with it, spending more time with family and loved ones, applying the brakes on tobacco use or excessive alcohol consumption, getting better organized, reducing the household debt and showing more appreciation to those around us ... are just a few.
Many of the above probably apply to the average anyone.
America’s most popular resolution — arguably — is not even mentioned here. Talk about eyes rolling, they would have rotated in their sockets like Linda Blair’s head in “The Exorcist” had I dared type ... “lose weight.”
I know. I know. It’s a nasty topic, especially given that we’re still in the celebratory season of Christmas and New Year’s when food is as prolific as bills. For that reason, I’ll speak only of my own personal plan.
It’s the same one I documented in January 2012 ... drop a few pounds. And truth be told, it worked. My work hours didn’t get any better, but I stayed more committed to regular exercise and put a plug on as much of the stress eating and nighttime snacking as possible.
Over the course of the year’s first half, I dropped the twenty-something pounds that I had found in the first 1 1/2 years of my return to newspaper work. But, at some point in 2012 I lost my way and in early fall the sad saga worsened when I caught the worst cold in the history of Western Hemisphere sniffles. The recovery was slow, and included two trips to the doctor, but the biggest collateral damage was three weeks without running.
Daily joggers know this truth. It’s one of the best possible forms of exercise for cardio health, mental alertness, improved energy level, blood pressure, proper cholesterol balance and weight control. But take it out of your lifestyle, and life will lose much of its style.
Thanks to antibiotics and time, the bronchial, nasal and coughing crud finally went away. But the weight slowly returned, mostly because of my own bad choices. We were closing in on the holidays so I ate all the wrong stuff, turned away at the good stuff and was too slow getting back into the daily jogging stuff. I jogged, but with a Thanksgiving, Yuletide and New Year’s inconsistency. In the world of mobility and fine health, that’s a no-no.
So here I am.
Thankfully, not all the lost pounds from early 2012 have returned and I have recommitted to daily — or close to daily — running over at the Huff’n Puff Freedom Trail at Oak Grove Elementary School or on the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway. Both have served as personal lifesavers for about as many years as I can remember.
But as painful as it sounds, I’ll be joining thousands just like me making a pledge to drop some weight in 2013. It’s what I want. It’s what my health needs. It’s what my belt demands.
My decision led to a telling dialogue the other day with a co-worker. I had complained of my belt getting uncomfortably tight this Christmas season.
“Just let it out a notch,” she offered with common-sense approach.
“No,” I replied.
“You’d breathe better.”
“Your face wouldn’t be so blue.”
“You could return to the old notch once you’ve lost the first few pounds.”
“Is this a man kinda thing?”
“Is it vanity?”
“No. Well ... maybe.”
Her nod was a knowing one and it closed our conversation.
And now I close with a quote credited to a writer of the macabre from the 1840s whose works surely inspired the tormented mind of Stephen King. It is Edgar Allan Poe (“The Raven”) who once reportedly suggested, “The best things in life make you sweaty.”
Edgar must have been a jogger.