So, how’s your New Year’s resolution coming along? “The what?” you say? Given up already, have you? Well, I haven’t given up mine. And so enthusiastic am I that I’ve already completed three weeks of my resolution even though we’re only one week into the New Year. And I don’t even consider myself an overachiever.

I have lost 2.25 kg overall and 5 cm in my beer belly. I have toned my body and am building my abdominals. I don’t think this resolution is destined to be broken either. As a matter of fact, I can guarantee it won’t be.

How? Did I enter rehab? Nope. Did I go cold turkey and stop eating and drinking? Nope.

How have I accomplished three weeks of a New Year’s resolution when we’re only one week into the New Year? Easy. I started early.

Getting a head start on your New Year’s resolution is the smartest thing you can do and guarantees you’ll continue it. Look at it this way. If you start your resolution early, and it doesn’t work out, it wasn’t really a New Year’s resolution anyway. So you’re completely off the hook should you need an excuse.

On the other hand, if you do continue your resolution, then you’ve started the New Year with a proven track record, and one you’re not nearly as likely to break. After all, it’s hard to quit when you’re ahead.

My resolution was to get rid of beer gut.

This wasn’t easy because, well, I love beer. Our relationship goes a long way back. The happiest part of my day was happy hour on the porch. But something else was nagging at the back of my mind too. As the years went by, my gut was increasing in size. Then, when I hit middle age, I was unfairly targeted with pounds and ounces that adhered themselves from the ether. I started avoiding sharp objects for fear that a puncture would burst me like a balloon and send me flying up into the sky, never to be seen again.

In addition, day by day, my gut was feeling more like a pet, following me around and begging for food. I was constantly feeding and watering her and I often had to get up at 4 a.m. to let her out of the bedroom to pee. I had to buy her special sweaters for going out (to cover her up). She took constant care. Some of us just aren’t cut out for taking care of high maintenance, exotic pets.

I decided to start my resolution in December because it would give me a good chance to test myself resisting the major beer-guzzling hurdles such as year-end bonenkai parties, Christmas and New Year’s, events likely responsible for at least one pound of gut each.

And then I did some other things that really worked but that no one ever tells you about:

If your goal is to lose weight, go to the gym, or do anything that has to do with your health, some pre-training will help you get there. Start by reading magazines or books about health, nutrition, strength training, sports, exercise, etc., so that you educate yourself and develop an interest in your goals before you set out to achieve them.

The reason this is so important is that it helps engage your mind with your body. You can’t leave things entirely up to your body because, your body is, well, kinda dumb. It just won’t do anything without help from a mind to tell it what to do. Now your mind is actually connected to your body rather than being on the other side of the planet like a distant cousin. Big difference.

Building on the mind-body connection you’ve developed, next add something with “spirit,” so you now have mind-body-spirit, all three of them, working toward your goal. My solution was yoga. Yoga connects your physical body with the mind and the spirit that wants to eat better, feel better and be more in balance with nature. Huge difference.

Japanese martial arts rely heavily on this spirit for success. But you can choose anything: meditation, religion, or even just raw determination (although for most of this, it is rarely spiritual enough to be true to your body). But the spirit has to be there, or you won’t accomplish your goals. Without this mind-body-spirit connection, you’ll surely fail.

“Spirit” is often aided by teachers, who help us develop ourselves in this area. If you feel a sensei (guru, master, personal trainer, nutritionist, psychologist, whatever you want to call them) will help you, or at least help keep your spirit on track, then join a club, class or session, or engage a trainer or mentor. Don’t expect to be able to do things all by yourself. We’ve relied on teachers (parents, school teachers, professors, bosses, friends, senpai) our whole lives, so why shouldn’t we now?

With the powerful mind, body, spirit trifecta behind me, the next time I eyed that beautiful cold beer winking at me in the corner, my mouth salivated, my mind said, “Hmm,” but the spirit hadn’t the slightest bit of interest. So I just winked back and walked away.

I still do have the occasional beer. Nothing will ever make me completely shun that long, happy relationship with the amber liquid. But when I do have a beer, I choose a really nice one — a Guinness or a microbeer, and I indulge in it slowly over a nice meal, savoring it because I know it’s the only one I’m going to have.

Now you’re probably thinking it’s too late to start your New Year’s resolution early this year. Heck no. Make it your Fabulous February Resolution. But start now.

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