There’s nothing wrong with New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a good idea to have a goal and if starting on January 1 makes sense, then more power to you.
If joining up with another person or people to accomplish a New Year’s goal makes sense, then that’s a good idea too.
If, to make things more interesting, you bet against a friend to see who can accomplish their goal first, then that’s another good motivator.
That’s what my friend Jonathan Downing and I did a quarter of a century ago but it ended up backfiring for us.
In the late spring of 1994, we both joined on to the Rob Wallace for U.S. Congress campaign in the primary and then the Jim Geringer for Governor campaign in the general election. Both of us were in our 20s when we had working metabolisms.
In my experience, campaigns are never good for weight loss. But they are great for weight gain — need it or not.
Both of us entered the campaign with our weights in a similar range: the mid 180s. Not too bad for people who are 6’0.
By the time campaign season was done, we both had ballooned to the mid 220s. Eventually I would see my weight hit the dreaded 250 mark. And I believe Jonathan (although unconfirmed) toppled 1,000 pounds.
The usual things are to blame. Being on the road for hours, fast food, drinks, late nights, fast food. And fast food.
In January 1995, we went to work for Governor Jim Geringer. Our offices were right next to each other.
Alarmed at the 40 – 50 pound weight gain, we decided to have a competitive New Year’s resolution. See who could get back down to 185 the quickest. Or, at least, who was lighter by the end of the session.
Everything started well.
Then came January 2.
Because we had spent so much time together, we acted like brothers. Teenage brothers.
We continually tried to sabotage each other.
This was no different.
After having a lunch salad at the Egg and I (the closest restaurant to the Capitol), I would swing by Taco John’s to pick up a couple super burritos and place them on Jonathan’s desk. Every day.
It proved to be an insurmountable hurdle for him.
“Jonathan horked those burritos down like a human vacuum cleaner. Bits of potato would spit out of his office as he would attack the side dish with the ferocity of a diesel-powered blender,” I wrote while discussing this strategy in the Los Angeles Times.
He was just as devious.
Going to the Hitching Post for a reception was a nightly event. My plan was to have a Diet Coke and forego any snacks.
But then came a secret admirer. A young, attractive woman started sending me Bacardi and Cokes (dozens of them).
Thinking it would be rude to spurn the drinks from the young, attractive woman, I drank them and the food that would inevitably follow.
I never saw the young, attractive woman although she really had a thing for me. The waitress only told me about her.
Turns out there was no young, attractive woman. Jonathan was behind the drinks and paid the waitress to say that.
We sent pizzas to each other’s houses. Dairy Queen Blizzards would appear out of nowhere.
I remember opening up my desk drawer to find a still warm chili dog. Jonathan, not checking his chair before sitting down, sat on a plate of nachos.
A day didn’t go by without some type of sabotage.
By the end of the session, we had both gained upwards of 20 pounds. We both lost.
In the years that followed, however, we achieved weight loss goals at separate times.
Back in 2017, I recall see Jonathan in the grocery store. He looked pre-1994 campaign weight. He looked great.
I asked him how he did it. No carbs, he said.
A week later, I saw him in the same store but carrying out a full cake. I asked him about the no carbs diet. He said the cake was just to celebrate the weight loss.
He continued to celebrate.
Sadly, so have I.
The only moral of the story is if you want to successfully achieve a New Year’s resolution
don’t ask Jonathan to help you, you probably want to be really careful in choosing your New Year’s resolution partner.