Christmas is over for most of the world. For Eastern Christians—primarily those in Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova—it comes on January 6 (or 19, depending on the calendar used, Julian or Gregorian), in connection with Epiphany.
But while Santa has come and gone, and while decisions as to whether one had been naughty or nice in the year have been made, and while gifts have been received and even returned, for one sector of the economy, even here in America, Christmas goes well into mid-February. A sizable portion of their annual revenue comes between January 1 and February 15. All because Americans want to look good.
It’s like someone is orchestrating this with a timer. As if by clockwork, gym memberships explode the first six weeks of every year, recession or no, depression or no, inflation or no. Everyone wants to look good, lose weight, trim the fat, bulge the muscle, lubricate the joint, crank the tendon, let the blood flow, let the adrenaline rise, etc.
There is, typically, a 75–150% increase in membership sales around New Year’s. And most quit by Valentine’s!
For health clubs, weight-loss centers, and other enterprises in the “self-improvement” industry, recidivism is great for the bottom line! Last year, Americans spent $62 billion on these. This industry thrives on our failure to stick to it. They expect us to return again for six weeks next year.
As one commentator noted, this just doesn’t make much sense. In an economic downturn, one could save money by just running outside than on a treadmill, or by lifting cinder blocks than weights. And why do folks give up after six weeks. “It makes more sense to keep that workout going through the winter so that your summer body is sculpted come the first beach day.”
One writer speculates that “People across the country join gyms en masse now because they believe that just having a Gold’s Gym membership will automatically whip them into shape.”
Everyone wants to look good. The key word here is “wants.” Everyone wants to look good. But those “wants” don’t last for more than six weeks, unfortunately. Those “wants” don’t translate into lasting action. Resolutions galore. Execution? A different matter altogether.
While looking good in body is a worthwhile goal, the Bible wants us to look good in spirit, too.
… yourself for the purpose of godliness;
for bodily discipline is only of little profit,
but godliness is profitable for all things,
since it holds promise for the present life
and also for the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:7–8
No doubt, there are things other than poundage that we need to shed, habits we need to flee from, in our move towards godliness.
1 Corinthians 6:18
… flee from idolatry.
1 Corinthians 10:14
…flee from these things [the love of money].
1 Timothy 6:11
…flee from youthful lusts.
2 Timothy 2:22
The hard work involved in changing lifestyles is not as attractive as the mirage of a svelte body. The mirage fades in six weeks and hard work begins to hurt. And we quit.
“Exercise isn’t easy. Most people don’t like it,” one health club executive agrees. “But if they can get past a certain point—usually it’s about two months or 12 workouts—they get committed.”
He’s right. Habits take time to inculcate. Hanging in there is essential.
Submit therefore to God.
Resist the devil
and he will flee from you.
It calls for an act of trust in the One who empowers.
I can do all things through Him
who strengthens me.