The Power of Indulgence

By Piper Bayard

Nicotine patches are flying off the shelves and personal trainers are working overtime. And every gym across the nation is filled with the January Resolutioners.

People on treadmills at gym US Air Force wikimedia

image from US Air Force, wikimedia commons

The Resolutioners are easy to spot, and the gym rats know just how long each of them will stay.  The overweight guy who’s straining to press his maxed-out set of three? He’s done now because he just hurt himself. The lady sitting on the mat gossiping between her two sets of 10 stomach crunches? She left January 4th. January 5th if she’s with a friend. But the aging realtor in the power training class who ran out, vomited, and came back? She’s the one to watch. Ask her name. She’ll have the bikini bod by July. The difference? She wants to be there.

The hard fact is that people do what they want to do. Period. Most resolutions are about “should,” and shoulds never pan out.

I took an aikido class where I was almost the only woman with a lot of hot babes. None of them smoked. I did. When faced with the clean-living martial arts Chippendales, I was ashamed of that fact. I decided I needed to either quit or come to terms with my vice. Since quitting was difficult, and I didn’t like difficult, I chose to make peace with my choice.

I watched myself objectively. I discovered that I first justified the cigarette. Then I lit up and enjoyed the first third. That’s when the self-recrimination kicked in. . . . Why can’t I just quit? Those hunka hunka aikido guys would never want an ashtray-mouth like me. . . . I vowed it was my last cigarette forever and felt strong for a while because, in the words of an old friend, “Junkie always strong afta he fix.”

Since my resolution was to smoke proudly, like Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not, I short-circuited that cycle at the point of self-abuse and turned off the negative talk.

I told myself to just smoke or don’t. It worked, but not like I thought it would.

When I used smoking to beat myself up, I felt like a loser. When I felt like a loser, I thought I was a loser. When I thought I was a loser, I had an excuse to fail in all of my goals. When I removed that self-abuse, I no longer had the Lame Loser Excuse. Smoking lost its appeal. It became nothing more than a dispassionate choice. I chose to quit and never looked back. Good thing since I could never afford it now.

Since then, my only resolution has been to do what I want. I vowed to be a secretary forever if I wanted. One year later, I started law school. I vowed to eat all the sweets I wanted. I lost 30 pounds. I vowed to only write when I wanted. I now have a publisher. That’s because something deep inside of us wants what’s best for us. If we surrender to that voice, we rise above self-destruction.

Chocolate donut John wikimedia

image by John, wikimedia commons

In that spirit, these are my 2013 resolutions.

  1. I will eat all the donuts I want. Especially chocolate donuts.
  2. I will sleep in any time I want instead of going to the gym.
  3. I will yell at my children whenever I want. (Looking forward to that one.)
  4. I will buy every pair of shoes I want, even the ones that don’t fit well and serve no purpose.
  5. I will only write when I want.

And as for the January Resolutioners at the gym? Good for you! I’m rooting for you and hoping you will only come to the gym when you want. I’m hoping you will want often, and that I will see you on the beach in July.

45 comments on “The Power of Indulgence

  1. “on the beach in July.”


    Hah. No ye won’t. The sand gets everywhere.

    My local gym, (fitness 19-$12 a month) is, as usual, crazy busy for the first two weeks of the year. You can always tell the noobs, they can’t manage the machinery.

    Noobs get in the way, and annoy some folks. They don’t bother me. I’m in the gym to work, keep my old body alive. Not to ponce about in fancy kit or show off.

    I work, and leave, end of.

    They’ll fade away in a few weeks and at my usual visit time of 2pm, it’ll be quieter. 90% of those folks will keep on their membership and not use the gym at all for years. That pays most of the cost of my usage of the gym. I bless them for their generosity.

    Same with the pool, ($144 @ year) 70% of those paying memberships don’t use the place.

    Resolution and guilt, Yay!


    • Piper Bayard says:

      I never thought about the fact that those folks carry such a large share for us regulars. I should thank them quickly before they are gone. It’s always good to see the ones who stay, though. 🙂

  2. Jane Sadek says:

    A couple of years ago I finally confessed that I didn’t like going to the gym, but I also knew it was good for me. I tried developing a buddy system, but the people in my life are flaky. It’s hard enough to get myself to the gym without trying to be their motivation, too. So, I hired a trainer. I really can’t afford her, but I can’t afford to be fat and unhealthy either. I put on a few pounds during the holidays while she was on vacation, but tomorrow morning I report for duty. I won’t be vomiting during the power training, but I’ll be back in my 8’s in time for the cruise.

  3. Yea, you, Piper! I love the notion of The Power of Indulgence.

    There’s a teeny, tiny ginormous part of me that wants to rebel against any must do things in my life. External ones — especially from The Hubs? Fahgeddabout it.He’s practiced in Passive-Aggressive behavior. My defense? Aggressive-passive response.That “to do” item you just nagged me about? Knocked it from “A” to “C” status on my list today.

    Congratulations on your book! Woot! Can not WAIT to hear about the release date.

    Off not to list my indulgences for today. Thanks for the best way out of my New Year Tomorrow, I will…[list desired improvements; there are many] dilemma.

  4. I like your resolutions better than mine.
    1. Start Hot Yoga. So far I have set up a profile. My friend OWNS the place and offered me 10 free classes, and I still haven’t dragged my sorry ass over there.
    2. Finish book in 2013. So I’m reading it and editing it as I go, and fixing a ton. That is in high gear already.
    3. Is a secret. It’s huge and private. And I can’t say much because I want to succeed with it. If I don’t, I’ll be glad I didn’t say a word — but so far, so good. How’s that? And I’ve been working on *this* for 4 weeks already. So…can I have one of your donuts please?;)

  5. mairedubhtx says:

    Good resolutions all.

  6. Such good advice! When I was young, I’d find myself conjuring up reasons why I couldn’t do something, then realized what I was doing. Now I ask myself, do you want to do this? then just do it. Or don’t. (Oh no! Yoda is in my head! LOL)

    • Piper Bayard says:

      LOL. I like the Yoda way. Told my son that just this morning. It’s amazing how many “reasons” we can come up with to justify the only one that counts–it’s what we want.

  7. Love it! Until you laid it out so clearly, I didn’t realize that this is exactly what I do, too. I’m always “allowed” to have the greasy food or the extra dessert or the beer… but I usually don’t choose to.

    After all these years, the gym is such a habit that I find myself in my car and halfway there before my inner whiner kicks in with, “I don’t wanna!”, and by that time it’s too late. I heave a sigh of relief when the Resolutioners fade away, but I do appreciate the ones who stick around and make it work. 🙂

  8. Tami Clayton says:

    Love your list of resolutions. They sound similar in theory to my Un-Resolution List I posted last week. The thing that I’ll be thinking about off and on for days to come is “When I thought I was a loser, I had an excuse to fail in all of my goals. When I removed that self-abuse, I no longer had the Lame Loser Excuse.” So very true. Thanks for putting that self-destructive cycle into words so I can remind myself just how not-helpful that can be.

  9. Chrystal says:

    Best.Resolutions.Ever. I loved this and it is SO true. Once you let go of the should haves, it’s easier to figure out what we really want for ourselves. Our “goals” are wrapped too tightly in what we THINK we want because society says so. Forget that! EAT THE DONUTS. 🙂

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Exactly. We get so wrapped up in who we THINK we should be that we don’t be who we are, and until we are who we are, there’s no basis for change. Love the battle cry. 🙂

  10. KM Huber says:

    I did about the same thing with smoking–I stopped quitting–but until reading your post, I don’t think I understand that I started doing what I wanted to do. Now that I think about it, it may have been the beginning of a pattern. Thanks, Piper! Best of 2013 to you.


  11. kinleybaker says:

    I love this. I’ve been giving myself permission to do what I want lately, and I’ve been making better choices. 🙂 When we give ourselves permission to be satisfied, we can achieve it. Then there’s nowhere to go but up. We find ourselves wanting to do more. I’ll be thinking deep thoughts about this for a while. Thanks! And happy new year!

  12. tomwisk says:

    In it’s time Bacall smoking was hot. Now it’s a look at how stupid we were. I’m a 14 yr quitter. I wish I could say the same about home-made pizza and red meat, but I wear it proudly. I try. Attaining perfection is a fool’s errand. We’re more interesting with little flaws.

  13. Lena Corazon says:

    This is such a fantastic post, Piper. I absolutely despise resolutions, but this year I’m trying to focus on shifting my general mindset from negativity to positivity. I think we self-sabotage in many ways (focusing on the “should haves” and being a bad person for not conforming with those “should haves” is a huge problem I have), but 2013 will hopefully be about unlearning some of those nasty habits.

  14. Yeah, I don’t like resolutions. If I want to do something different I just do it (sorry nike) and by the time new years rolls around I’m either doing it or not. Mind you those resolutioners (great word) are fun to watch 🙂


  15. You hit the nail on the head. When we “want” something bad enough, we achieve it. Whatever it is. We find a way, because we WANT IT (with capital letters). I never thought about allowing myself something, like sweets, though. But you’re right again. When we give ourselves “permission” to have something that was once forbidden, the desire for it goes away. Great post!

  16. Love this one, Piper! I always hated resolutions, I always broke them. I’ve been struggling with the eating better/working out thing. I’ve noticed my pattern is a wax/wane thing, I’ll “be good” for a while, fall off the wagon, then get back up, and back on track. What I stopped doing was beating myself up about it. I gave myself permission to fall, and promised myself a hand back up. I’ve also noticed I don’t fall quite so far, and it doesn’t take me as long each time to get back to my healthy habits.

    I remember my gym rat days, and early January well. It seems there’s not much difference between San Diego, Seattle, or anywhere else, the Resolutioners are everywhere.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      There’s a saying I heard once. A man walks down a street and falls in a hole without seeing it. The next day, the man walks down the same street, sees the hole, and falls in it. The day after that, the man sees the hole and walks around it. Finally one day, the man walks down a new street. That’s how we are with habits. In time, we walk down a new street, but it’s a process. Happy New Year!

  17. Great post – funny and thoughtful ( who could ask for more?)
    Sounds like you’ve discovered a great secret ( does this mean late night TV is calling? Should – your new years approach is much better than al the others)
    The perfect line: “That’s because something deep inside of us wants what’s best for us. If we surrender to that voice, we rise above self-destruction.”

  18. Julie Glover says:

    This goes to the heart of why some exercise programs have worked for me and some have been as sure to die as the lizard being batted around by my cat. I can’t “work out.” I don’t want to, so eventually I don’t do. I do, however, like to play tennis, so that one worked. I did want to see all of my town, so biking around town worked. And I love to dance, so Zumba’s going pretty well. You’re right: I do what I want.

    And now to go order a glass of wine at this restaurant I’m in. I want it. I’m getting it. 😉 Thanks.

  19. Diana Beebe says:

    I’m shooting for the beach in July. I am. I will workout whenever I want. I love your resolutions! Great list. 🙂

  20. Lee S. Hawke says:

    This was pretty damn inspiring. Good on you for knowing exactly what you want, giving yourself the freedom to go after it, and then coming up with something else!

    I’ve been a gym rat for quite a few months now, and it’s really been intoxicating to feel healthy. Sounds stupid, but because of that I totally get you.

    Here’s to a great 2015 for all of us!

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