You notice that the clothing is fitting a bit snugly. The waistline has expanded beyond what you find acceptable, and your face has begun to take on a fleshy, jowly appearance. Then one night, as you snack on chips and watch some late-night TV, you see a commercial for a treadmill, complete with happy, fit people wearing tight exercise clothing jogging, then laughing as they go on a date with an attractive person of the opposite sex.
You’ve tried to do exercise programs before, you recognize, but you think that perhaps things will be different if you actually buy a treadmill. You reason that, if you actually pay money for an exercise device, you’ll be much more likely to follow through on your exercise promises because you won’t want to utterly waste your hard-earned money. The treadmill, you conclude, could be the linchpin of a drive to create a new, fitter you.
So you brush the chip shards off your belly, call the number on the commercial, and place your order. The treadmill comes, all sleek and shiny, and your resolution increases. This will be the beginning! You put it in your bedroom, read the instructions, and don the new exercise outfit you bought for the occasion. It’s treadmill time! You walk a few miles on that rubbery, rotating surface, feeling good about yourself, and then have a green salad for dinner. Already, you feel lighter. The next morning you feel sore, but it’s a good soreness. You do the treadmill that day, and the next.
Maybe you eat some more salad. The soreness increases. Then you think that it’s kind of boring just walking on a treadmill, so you move a TV in front of the treadmill. And then one day you miss a day, because you overslept or you were hung over from going out with your friends. It just couldn’t be helped. You promise to redouble your efforts, and for a while you’re back on track. Then you miss another day, and another.
Weeks later, you realize that the treadmill is now being used exclusively as an adjunct clothes rack, and every time you see the damn thing you smell the reek of personal failure. At first you think the guilt feelings might get you back to your brief fitness regimen, but after a while you’re sick of looking at the stupid treadmill, so you sell it in a garage sale or on eBay. And then, months later, you see a new fat-burning device on TV, and you think that it might just be the key to a newer, better you.
I’m reminded of treadmill promises when I read about the President and Congress reaching agreement on another last-minute, short-term, stop-gap spending and debt limit bill and suggesting that things will be different when the next deadline nears.