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Harris Blackwood: If you fall off the New Year's resolution wagon, get back on
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This week, many of us will take a sip from the fountain of eternal optimism. This is the week we will resolve to do something better in the New Year.

For many of us, this revolves around weight.

According to the Trust for America’s Health, more than a third of adults are obese. More than two-thirds are overweight or obese.

Georgia, at 30.5 percent, is in the second tier of states with 30 to 34.9 percent obese. Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia have more than 35 percent of their residents who are obese.

I’ve never been skinny. I wouldn’t know what skinny feels like, but I am willing to try. When I was a boy, I had to buy pants labeled “husky.”

The dictionary defines husky, in this instance, as “big and strong.” I don’t know about the strong part.

Husky is also a kind of dog designed to pull a sled. Sometimes, I’ve felt that way.

If you watch TV this week, you’ll see lots of ads for diet foods and gymnasiums. This is the time that fitness establishments have their new year’s rush.

A lot of people will take their Christmas money and go out to buy a treadmill or other exercise equipment.

I think it is important to have a treadmill with good sturdy handles on each side. That way you can hang more clothes on it when you give up on exercising.

New Year’s resolutions are not new. The Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, the namesake of the month of January. In the Medieval era, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry.

But the resolution business goes beyond weight. Folks resolve to improve their finances, get an education, become more organized, reduce stress and be less grumpy.

The problem with resolutions is we hold ourselves to a one strike and you’re out standard. If we miss a day at the gym, we decide our exercise program is over. If we eat an entire bag of chips while watching the Falcons in the playoffs (that’s a fantasy), we decide we have blown the diet.

I don’t know much about recovery from addiction, but some folks get on the wagon and then fall off the wagon. But the recovery programs teach you can get back on the wagon again.

A popular song of an earlier generation says you can “pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.” That may be the answer for whatever we resolve to do in the New Year.

We must not treat every falter or failure as the grand finale. If I start the year at one weight and I end the year 10 pounds lighter, I haven’t reached my goal, but I am going in the right direction.

So here I go. I want to be healthier, be a better husband, do more things that have redeeming value and show more love to those around me.

That’s my resolution. I may trip and fall a couple of times, but like the little blue engine, I think I can.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on