In the U.S., New Year’s is always the time of year when people swear to renovate their lives for the better by starting a new workout regime and making healthier life choices—quitting smoking, cutting down on carbs, alcohol, sugar, etc.—but, dare I be so bold— we all know that these resolutions are rarely kept for longer than the first month of the New Year. Similarly, Brazilians make resolutions with these kinds of intentions, but to be honest, I feel like I have observed more people here sticking to their New Year’s oaths than in the U.S., and I have two theories as to why.
The first reason is that here, people everywhere have workout equipment at their disposal. When I first arrived in Brasília, I remember driving past a park and thinking, “Wow, that sure is a big playground!” At first glance, it seemed like the park had a much more intricate “jungle gym” than I’d ever seen before. However, as I looked longer at the “playground,” I noticed that there weren’t kids playing on them—there were adults doing exercise. Of course, this was really strange to me! Outside workout machines that anyone could use? It was weird, but it was also funny to watch people use these facilities so openly—after all, it is important to get a necessary dose of daily exercise. In America, it is unfortunate that we don’t have anything like this available to adults. Sure, we have parks, courts, fields, and paths for walking and running, but I have never seen this kind of thing! With serious issues concerning obesity and type two diabetes (usually caused by poor diets and sedentary lifestyles) plaguing the U.S., it would make sense for the U.S. to initiate a workout project like what you find here in Brazil. As a result of the fitness machine availability, Brazilians of all financial backgrounds have opportunities to make their resolutions a reality because folks who normally wouldn’t be able to afford a gym membership can go work out.
The second reason why I think that Brazilians have more initiative to keep their New Year’s resolutions is because of the widespread celebration of Carnaval. Why would someone be motivated to keep weight off for Carnaval, you might ask? Well, in this pre-Lent celebration, people participate in parades of various kinds—and are often scantily dressed. My rationale, based off of this information, plus what I’ve heard from my friends and students at Natural English, is that people who celebrate Carnaval in beach cities in the Northeast, such as the famed Salvador in the state of Bahia, or to the samba-crazed beaches of Rio, make a lot of effort to keep their bodies in shape just to look good for the parties in the streets and on the beaches. To be frank, I have numerous friends who have continued strong with their endeavors to maintain their New Year’s resolutions, some for this reason, and I must say that I’m impressed by their effort!