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I Resolve to Not Resolve

It’s that time of year again when Americans try to live with the New Year’s promises they’ve made to themselves. Well, most of them…


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A new year has come and with it the hope of making life bigger and better than it was the year before. Every year, countless well-intentioned people make resolutions to change their lives by quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising more or just being kinder and gentler—only to break those promises a few weeks later. Take, for example, the resolution to exercise. The first week of January, my gym’s parking lot is packed; there’s not a space to be found. Is this the gym or a white sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond?

I go inside and find that every treadmill, cross-trainer and recumbent bike is occupied. It’s no better in the weight room. The free weights and machines are all being used. All these huffing, puffing former couch potatoes pumping weights and straining muscles in a desperate attempt to transform themselves into pre-holiday shape—pre-holiday 1968 shape, that is. So when I’m not able to get to my locker because 15 other guys have decided to shower and dress at the same time, I don’t get angry or frustrated; I just remind myself that in a month, like Paris Hilton’s singing career, most of them will be history. New Year’s resolutions are an exercise in futility.

With that said, I’ve decided this year not to make any resolutions. Why set myself up for failure, right? Instead I’ll first take a good hard look in the mirror and decide which improvements can be realistically achieved and which can’t. This process isn’t so different from the inventory I take in the kitchen at work. You always need flour and sugar, but no one’s going to throw a hissy fit if you forget to order that case of Clamato.

Take the above example of exercise—I want to get in good shape. Not just good shape, damn good shape. I mean, who doesn’t yearn to have a body and abs like the cover model on Men’s Health? But I know my body and its limitations, and that would be an unrealistic goal (at least in the given timeframe of a year). So I’ve decided get the whole body in shape, and hopefully the abs will follow. It’s kinda like that case of Clamato. If your whole body is fit, nobody’s going to give a rat’s ass if you’re not sporting a six-pack.

As every fitness trainer and health magazine will tell you, when it comes to getting in shape, it’s a two-part equation: diet and exercise. When it comes to my diet ... well, it falls woefully short of sound nutrition. It’s the food pyramid, upside down. Sometimes it’s rough having a career in the kitchen. Not only is it tough on your feet, it’s tough on your waistline. I’m surrounded by food all day—the sight, the smell and taste of it. If I’m not cooking it, I’m eating it. It doesn’t get any easier when I hang up my apron for the week. Weekends are spent trying new restaurants or exploring gourmet markets. Food and more food.

Aside from that, I have a big sweet tooth. Around every corner booth lurks the temptation of a piece of cake, cookie, doughnut or pie. I go weak in the knees at the thought. Anyway, yesterday I decided that I’ll make an effort (notice I didn’t say “resolve”) to eat cleaner. I pitched the last remains of the holiday cookies into the trash and emptied the last vestiges of eggnog down the sink, and I headed off to my local “somewhat” healthy-foods market. As I navigated my cart up and down the aisles of meat-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, no-dairy, organically grown, all-natural food products, I came upon a clerk handing out free samples of wheat grass juice.

“It’s all organic and vegan,” she says (I swear this is the same young woman who just a week earlier was hawking full-fat eggnog).

I took the sample and downed it in one gulp. It was godawful. I tried not to make a face. You know, the one you make after swallowing a teaspoon of Robitussin. On the way to the checkout I picked up a Dr. Pepper and a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie to help wash away the wheat-grass aftertaste. All right, so my diet isn’t perfect. Baby steps, you know. Baby steps.

Have a resolution of your own? Let us know by responding to Chef Vinny’s blog.

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