Right now, while you're still burping up little gaseous reminders of the estimated 78 cheese puffs you consumed on New Year's Eve, is the time to make your New Year's resolutions.
Why make resolutions? Because you can be a better person. I bet you know somebody who seems to be perfect -- somebody who always looks terrific; somebody who manages to devote plenty of time to both family and career; somebody whose house is spotless, whose children are well-behaved and whose dog does not smell as if it sleeps on a bed of decomposing raccoons.
You wonder how that person "does it all," don't you? Well, stop wondering and do something! Start right now! Get up off the sofa, put on some active sportswear and kill that person with a crowbar!
No, seriously, you need to make some New Year's resolutions so that you can become a better you -- a more attractive you; an organized you; a you that is well, less like you.
At this point you are saying: "Dave, I would love nothing better than to be less like myself, but every year I make the same New Year's resolution, which is that I will lose weight, and currently my thighs are the diameter of the trans-Alaska pipeline."
Don't feel bad! Many people have trouble sticking to their resolutions, and there is a simple scientific explanation for this. In a team of psychologists conducted a study in which they monitored the New Year's resolutions of 275 people. After one week, the psychologists found that 92 percent of the people were keeping their resolutions; after two weeks, we have no idea what happened, because the psychologists had quit monitoring.
"We just lost our motivation," they reported. "Also, we found ourselves eating Twinkies by the case." So we see that keeping resolutions can be difficult. But you can do it.
Many people give up because they set their sights too high. In making a New Year's resolution, pick a goal that you can reasonably expect to attain, as we see in these examples:
* Unrealistic Goal: "In the next month, I will lose 25 pounds."
* Realistic Goal: "Over the next year, taking it an ounce or two at a time, I will gain 25 pounds, and my face will bloat like a military life raft."
* Unrealistic Goal: "I will learn to speak Chinese."
* Realistic Goal: "I will order some Chinese food."
* Unrealistic Goal: "I will read a good book."
* Realistic Goal: "I will examine the outsides of some good books, then waddle over to the part of the bookstore where they sell pastries."
* Unrealistic Goal: "I will do volunteer work for a worthy cause."
* Realistic Goal: "I will give myself a hearty scratching."
To succeed, you must believe in yourself. Write this motivational statement in large letters on a piece of paper and tape it someplace where you will see it often, such as on the inside of your eyeglasses: "I can do it, and I will do it! Starting next year!"
Learn from your mistakes
Let's say that, like millions of weight-conscious Americans, you think you eat sensibly: Your diet consists almost exclusively of mineral water and low-calorie, low-fat foods. And yet you're still gaining weight. Why?
I'll tell you why: You're drinking water with minerals in it. Minerals are among the heaviest substances in the universe, second only to guests on the Jerry Springer show. Think about it: The Appalachian Mountains and most major appliances are essentially big wads of minerals, and you're putting those things into your body.
* Fact: The word "Perrier" is French for "balloon butt."
I have run out of room here, thank God, so let me say in closing that I wish you the best of luck with your 1998 resolutions, and I will do the best to keep my own resolution, which is to give you, every single week, the most useful, informative and accurate columns I possibly can. Starting next year.