Christmas has come and gone, and according to many surveys, it is likely that a few extra pounds have come and not gone. WebMD states that, on average, Americans gain 1 to 2 pounds during the holidays.

It should come as no surprise then that the recent Top New Year Resolutions for 2024 poll conducted by Forbes Health ( showed that Americans list fitness as their top priority this year. This same poll conducted last year showed Americans listing mental health as their top priority, which makes sense given all the stress with the pandemic and inflation pressures.

On one hand, it is somewhat surprising that in America — where we arguably have the world’s best access to healthy food and to fitness clubs, gyms, hiking/biking trails and many other fitness options — that weight loss and fitness would be our No. 1 problem. However, since I can personally identify with the need to lose weight and to improve my fitness level, the issue does bear some critical thought.

Twenty years ago, I was over 20 pounds lighter and ran the Marine Corps marathon. Today, I would be hard-pressed to run a mile without breaking my stride and walking. What happened? Life in the modern world and a lack of discipline are likely what happened. Many jobs today are more sedentary, with technology and automation to make our lives easier, compared to the hard physical labor jobs that our grandparents worked. Transition from a major agrarian and manufacturing society to a more service-based and technological society means that more hours of the day are filled with pursuits that do not contribute to physical fitness.

My dad was a mailman who walked 10 miles a day carrying a heavy mailbag; he came home and worked the farm nights and weekends. He was fit, and I am sure that his No. 1 resolution would have been to improve family finances, not to get in shape or lose weight. When I used to come home to visit on military leave, he would ask me, “So, what have you been up to?” I would say that I had been working hard, and he would jokingly say, “Are you kidding me? You haven’t done a real day’s work since you left the farm.” The best jokes contain a kernel of truth, and my dad’s joke contained a kernel of truth that is even more true today. Combine that with the success of modern supermarkets and superstores, where you can fill your cart with food items that look and taste good, or better yet apps on our smartphone where groceries or fast food can be delivered to our front doors in minutes, and you can easily arrive at what happened. Any fitness trainer will tell you that the fork is more powerful than the treadmill in the fitness battle.

The same Forbes Health poll also showed that, on average, New Year’s resolutions last less than six months, with over 50% of them being abandoned within the first three months. This means that health clubs and fitness centers can expect to be full of new cash from new members and full of people for about three months and then back to normal numbers before summer. A good deal for loyal members who benefit from the new equipment and facilities with only about three months of crowds to endure. With so many options for entertainment — with nearly every movie and series available to stream, online video games aplenty and constant connection with social media — there is a lot of competition for our time and attention.

That is why I titled this article “Resilient Resolutions” and why I am planning on a resolution that hopefully will last and will address the top three items on Forbes’ list. While fitness and weight loss themes dominate the top five items, it is worth noting that improving finances was No. 2, and improving mental health was No. 3. Inflation is real and putting a real crunch on everyone’s finances. And while we are not experiencing the mental stress of a global pandemic in 2024, we will have the stress of a presidential election year. Stories of feuding families, broken friendships and lots of vitriol and negativity will fill our televisions, laptops, tablets and smartphones on social media and conventional media as the political battles reach full strength.

I think it also worth noting that nowhere in the top 10 were there any resolutions to make our communities, schools, cities, churches or charities more successful. I know that these are personal resolutions and focus on the individual, but as individuals, we can also focus on ways to make all these things better as well. We could just as easily list being more kind or giving or more involved in our communities as a priority, and these goals might contribute to better mental health.

I think the real thing that has changed in the last 20 years and what really happened is a lack of discipline. The military forces discipline in health and fitness by administering a physical fitness test and by having strict height and weight standards. Military procedure is to measure your neck size and your waist size and use a height table to deduce your body fat percentage. This is lovingly known as the “rope and choke” to military members. If you fail either the fitness or body fat standard, you are given the privilege of extra physical fitness training at 0530 every morning until you get back within standards. In that same environment today, I am sure I would weigh over 20 pounds less and be able to run a 10K with ease.

My New Year’s resolution this year is this, to have the discipline to make good choices for me, my family, my community and my cooperative, and to have the discipline to do this for 12 months and not just the first three months of the year. I think that this is a more resilient resolution that will likely take care of all the top concerns on Forbes’ list, and hopefully make 2024 successful for not only me but those around me.