New Year's Resolutions Redux

By Annie Lane

January 8, 2020 5 min read

Dear Annie. New Year's Day is approaching, and it's time for new resolutions. I'm ashamed to say that mine will be the same it is every year. My goal is to get into shape. Each year, I start with a few workouts but quickly fall back into my old lazy routine and let my diet slip. I've tried joining a gym, fitness classes, running and walking. Nothing will stick. I really want to keep it up this year, but I'm already afraid I'll fail. How do people stick with it? — Out of Shape

Dear Shape: First of all, don't wait for New Year's Day. Start today, especially because it seems that you are motivated. Procrastinating makes it more difficult to begin and to stick to a routine. Second, my favorite wellness advice is that the best workout is the one you'll do. That can vary from person to person. For some, it may be group fitness classes. For others, it may be outdoor running. And still others may find a stationary fitness machine is their workout of choice. All of these are great options.

Set clear and achievable objectives. Perhaps it's around a number of workouts per week or a duration. Keep yourself accountable. Find a friend with the same goals. Also try hiring a personal trainer who can tailor a workout to your needs or what you like best. For tighter budgets, consider using a fitness app, many of which have accountability and progress programs built in. Watching your progress will keep you motivated and on track. Good luck!

Dear Annie: My sister-in-law hosted Thanksgiving for our large family one year, even accommodating out-of-town family members. After cooking and prepping and setting the table, she said that we could sit wherever we'd like. The kids had their own separate table. The meal was delicious, and we enjoyed each other's company.

After everyone ate, my sister-in-law announced for all of us to reach under our chairs. Earlier that day, she had put sticky notes under each chair with a task written on the note. They included "clear the table," "dry the dishes" and "box up leftovers" — you get the picture. One of them (hers) read, "play with the grandkids," which we considered a well-deserved break for her after all that meal prep!

There was no arguing or pouting or trading of tasks. Everyone did his or her job, and the cleanup was very fast.

In a short time, we were all able to go for a walk and watch football without worrying about how the seemingly arduous task of clearing and cleaning was going to be shared.

Now, whenever I have a large sit-down dinner for ANY occasion that involves oblivious (read: lazy) family members, I implement my very wise sister-in-law's idea. — Everyone Chips In

Dear Everyone Chips In: What a clever idea. I love it! Thank you for sharing.

Dear Annie: I just read the letter from a reader who was put off by businesses such as Starbucks that have a habit of asking for a name with each order. Please allow me to share a trick I've been using for years.

Because I have a name that is often mispronounced, I give a fake name when asked. And to make it easier for me to remember, I always use the same one — one of my favorite tennis players from yesteryear. So when I hear "Connors" called, I know that my coffee or my table is ready.

This both protects my privacy and spares the server or hostess the difficulty of trying to figure out how to say my name. — Old Whatshisname

Dear Old Whatshisname: I'm printing your letter because I received a lot of letter with the same suggestion — to use a fake name. Your tip about repeating the same fake name is a good one, though I'm not sure Jimmy Connors, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, would be crazy about it.

"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]

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