Celebrity resolutions: revealed and graded

December 29, 2013

These 10 local celebrities are either liars, or outliers. When we asked them for their New Year’s resolutions, not one said “Lose weight” — by far the most common goal among regular Americans. “Losing 10 pounds is so pedestrian,” says journalist Cokie Roberts. “And not only that, but, you know, some of us have reached the age where we know we aren’t going to do it.”

That said, the rich and famous are probably as likely to slip up as regular folks, says Todd Kashdan, a psychology professor and motivation expert at George Mason University. “The vast majority fall off the wagon,” he says. Only 19 percent of people who make resolutions manage to keep them for two years, according to one study. We asked Kashdan to assess our celebrities’ resolutions and provide some tips to help their — and by extension, our — vows stick.

Spike
Spike Mendelsohn

Former ‘Top Chef’ contestant, local restaurateur
“To get Tom Sietsema back in here to review Bearnaise, my new French bistro brasserie on Capitol Hill. He came in for lunch and did a ‘First Bite’ review. It was right when we opened, and I don’t think he gave us the chance to find our way.” The chef plans “some aggressive tweeting, some word of mouth, things of that nature.”
Shrink says: What’s his end game? “If he’s just focused on the reviews, then he’s always chasing the next one.”

Jake Tapper
Jake Tapper

Anchor of CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper”
“Now that my kids are 4 and 6, I want to spend more time getting involved in our spiritual health, in our synagogue — more Sabbath dinners on Friday night, more attendance at Hebrew school, more participation in holidays and, I think, just more discussion of the mysteries of life.”
Shrink says: “This resolution is beautiful. It’s very specific, it’s values- driven. It’s exactly how you should set up a resolution.”

Mike Lonergan
Mike Lonergan

Head men’s basketball coach at George Washington University
“My resolution is to keep working hard and not read our press clippings. You just have to have that tunnel vision. ‘One game at a time’ is our motto.”
Shrink says: Lonergan might want to reframe his goal. “He’s avoiding press clippings because they are distracting. The better goal would be ‘I am going to pay attention to people I know I can trust to be candid.’ ”

Cokie Roberts
Cokie Roberts

News analyst for NPR and ABC News
“It’s to be more like my mother. She died this summer, and I have been reading the 1,000 letters I have gotten, from people writing about the incredible things she did for them. She, Lindy Boggs, was a member of Congress for nine terms and then U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. She always treated everyone with great love, respect and dignity. As a reminder, I always wear a ring made out of two of her old rings.”
Shrink says: “It’s great she has a reminder. Without one, it’s very easy to fall back into your old patterns of behavior.”

Jummy Olabanji
Jummy Olabanji

Anchor of ‘Good Morning Washington’ and ‘ABC 7 News at Noon’
“Mine is to run my first half marathon. I found a training program online; it’s a 20-week program. Another goal of mine is to stick to the training program so I don’t pass out during the race.”
Shrink says: “I’m impressed that she has already signed up for a marathon and found a training program. This is perfect; she’s likely to succeed.”

Denise Austin
Denise Austin

TV personality and fitness guru
“Mine is all about having more fun in the New Year. Every Sunday, I call my girlfriends to see what they are doing for fitness, and I make plans to join them, so I keep up with my friends and staying fit.”
Shrink says: “This is the model of how you create New Year’s resolutions.”

Matthew Lesko
Matthew Lesko

Infomercial personality
“The most important thing I could do is to live with a more open heart. I just got a question mark tattooed on my thumb, to remind me to open up my heart and not to fear the unknown. It’s so easy to become more prejudiced as we become older.”
Shrink says: Lesko should define what progress would look like to an outside observer. “For instance, is he going to start hugging people more? Or will he be donating more of his time or money?”

Gilchrist-web
Aaron Gilchrist

‘News4 Today’ anchor
“My big, year- long project is trying to explore Washington, Maryland and Northern Virginia a bit more. I literally work around the corner from the National Cathedral and I haven’t been inside yet. [My friends] will hold me accountable. Facebook is a wonderful thing.”
Shrink says: Posting your progress online and getting positive reactions is a great way to keep your momentum.

Marin Alsop
Marin Alsop

Conductor, BaltImore Symphony Orchestra
“It’s to laugh more and be sillier. Music-wise, my approach is really just about trying to have a more connected experience, whether it’s being silly or being more engaged with the music.”
Shrink says: “This is a great resolution, but she needs to tell someone — maybe someone in her social circle or a trusted colleague — to hold her accountable.”

Mike-isabella-web2
Mike Isabella

Former ‘Top Chef’ contestant, local restaurateur
“My life has been really crazy this past year, so I want to focus on getting my life a little more leveled out — having a better schedule, a little more travel and time away. I want to spend more time with my wife, be home at night for some dinners with her.”
Shrink says: “These are good ideas, but he needs a plan.” For instance, he could block off Wednesday nights for dinner at home with his wife, or start saving money toward a trip.

This story appeared in the Sunday edition of the Express. Sign up now for free delivery.

Sadie Dingfelder is a features writer for the Washington Post Express.
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Marissa Payne · December 29, 2013