I don’t know about you, but I am ready for 2017 to come to a close. The destructive hurricanes, wildfires…the white house…let’s just say, I’m ready for 2017 to end! And with the end of every year, many people start contemplating their New Year’s resolutions. I’m here to tell you why I think you shouldn’t set diet-related New Year’s resolutions this year. Unless, of course, your resolution is to ditch the diet resolutions for self-care and acceptance. Bare with me while I explain.
Restrict, Fail, Repeat
It’s not that I don’t believe in setting realistic goals and making positive changes (key word: realistic), it’s just that New Year’s resolutions typically involve making drastic changes that you believe you are supposed to make. Let’s focus on dieting resolutions. If you felt comfortable in your own skin and didn’t feel like you were expected to look a certain way, would you set a resolution to lose weight? It wouldn’t seem as necessary, would it? One of the reasons resolutions fail so quickly is they often involve making changes that are unrealistic and are changes you truly don’t want to make.
As much as I’m embarrassed to admit it, every year I fall into the same trap. I’m not immune to the pressures that society puts on us. But, my endless battle of restriction inevitably leads to feeling like a “failure” for not avoiding the restricted food I love. This is followed by guilt and self-loathing. Every year, if not multiple times a year, the process is repeated. There is no change that comes of it, except that my feelings of body shame are perpetuated year after year.
What Are You Hoping to Achieve?
There are definitely goals that I’m working towards. This year, my greatest goal was launching my website. It took me many months longer than I expected, but I did it! My husband and I set financial goals. I also frequently evaluate how I’m practicing self-care and make changes to the behaviors that bring me the peace and love I’m seeking from myself. If there are changes you see of value in your life, plan out the necessary steps to achieving them, but keep in mind the reward of making such changes. If there is a chance that such a goal will lead to further feelings of doubt, body shame, or self-hatred, determine what it is you’re really hoping to achieve.
When I think about restricting my diet to achieve a certain body size, or fit into the “clean eaters club,” what I’m really wanting to achieve is acceptance from myself and others. If I didn’t worry about how others perceive the space I take up in this world, it would be a heck of a lot easier to accept and love myself. Okay, easier said than done, right?! But this is why setting New Year’s resolutions can push you further and further away from your actual goals. Let’s dive a little deeper…
If you’re expecting weight loss to make you healthier, and health is your goal, let me ask you this –
Do you consider the number on the scale, or the size of your jeans, a better indication of health than how you feel physically and emotionally?
If another failed diet leaves you feeling guilty and depressed, has your health improved?
Can you achieve physical and mental health without weight loss?
The dieting industry would have you believing that weight loss is necessary for health, happiness, and self-acceptance, but in reality it isn’t. You do not need to be a certain body size to enjoy the benefits of quality sleep, loving relationships, or enjoyable movement. You can learn to cook more meals at home. Take more time to enjoy and savor the flavors of a meal. Read a good book. Spend time catching up with a friend. This will do far more good for your health than warding off food groups ever will.
In order to achieve my ultimate goal of happiness, self-love, and acceptance, my New Year’s resolution is to ditch the diets and restriction, and to spend more time doing activities that express the self-love and respect I’ve been seeking all of these years. If it’s something you truly feel happy about doing, the changes will come a lot easier. Are you with me?