With the year winding down, new years resolution lists are growing. For most, the list may look something like: 1. lose weight, 2. exercise more, 3. eat better, 4. drink less alcohol, 5. sleep better, etc…. kind of a repeat of last year’s resolutions. Hopefully this read will encourage everyone to take a closer look at your lists and what it entails.
Weight and Resolutions
Each year, as we come to close a 12 month chapter of roller coaster-ing, the siren of weight loss, cosmetic and fitness industries begin blaring louder than ever – magazine covers, blogs, and even Facebook feeds flood our media-driven society. “Here are Best Apps to Help You Lose Weight”, “15 Weight Loss Tips for Your New Years Resolution”…. the list of promises to shedding pounds goes on. Being constantly bombarded with flashing, bolded messages, its hard not to be fixated on weight whilst welcoming the new year. And coming January, we see an even longer list of different diets people have set foot on….
2017, Make meaningful resolutions; one that is helpful rather than harmful.
People don’t talk often enough of the dismal failure rates and empty promises of dieting. Deprivation is not sustainable. Not the potential harms such as weight cycling, and increased risk for eating disorders, depression, shame, and health problems associated with restrictive dieting.
On the contrary, we put too much weight on how our physical appearance is a representation of self-worth. Unfortunately, it is way too easy to become fixated on number and project that into a value that we attach to our self-worth.
Let’s take a closer look at why weight loss is the most common new years resolution out there, shall we? Many believe that losing weight will make them much more attractive, and hence more successful in endeavours beyond weight (such as social life, career success). Most of the times people overestimate what weight loss can do for us. Though modest weight loss can be useful, it will not magically transform your life. To advance in your career, you will still need to work hard, continue learning and invest in yourself. To have a strong social network, you have to put yourself out there, get involved and be kind to those around you. It will not change your fears or your passions. You are still you; and I am still me – despite what the scale may say… you will always find me squealing in tears when a six-legged shiny black cockroach is seen within the same room.
Resolutions, Resolutions… Re-Solutions
Don’t get me wrong, there is most definitely nothing wrong with wanting to get healthy or fit and feel better in the new year. As a healthcare professional, that is what we encourage! But try something focusing on an action that would make you feel better rather than a number on the scale.
However, simply resolving in “being healthier” can leave you in a limbo. What does that even mean anyways? There’s no way of checking in to see if you’ve actually achieved what you set to do. Then, what is the solution to making good resolutions?
Be trendy – these days, all things are going micro! Make small goals rather than grand resolutions. Keep it real! And expect small changes. A psychology professor at the University of Toronto, Peter Herman, explains that the reason resolutions fail is because they are too ambitious. He wrote in the American Psychologist with this co-author, Janet Polivy: “People tend to make the same resolutions year after year, vowing on average 10 times to eradicate a particular vice”. We are often unrealistic about the difficulty of behaviour change, misjudge the time it takes to make sustainable change and romanticize our ability to make everything happen. So what does this all mean? Scaling back your goals to something that is more manageable. Unfortunately, these modest goals may not always correspond to the amount, speed or ease of change that people wish to happen. But don’t be fooled by the small and mighty!
Instead of trying a new diet this year to lose weight, set a goal that is concrete – something specific so that you can say “I did that”. For example, walk a mile three times a week, to try and include more physical activity. Take ten minutes a day to relax and meditate in the evening to wind down to better manage stress and mental health. Try being vegetarian for a day a week, or make half your plates vegetables. Aim to become focus on attuned or intuitive eating – honour your body’s internal cues for hunger and satiation to decide when, what and how much to eat. Set small, action-oriented goals that are realistic: turn off screens to remove distractions when eating at every meal, and try to make the enjoyment of a meal last at least 30 minutes. If this is all too new, make it more manageable by setting a more realistic time or frequency until you feel at least 7/10 confidence level in achieving the goal. With time, habits form and most people find themselves feeling more confident about setting the bar just a little higher.
Happy New Years
And why start January 1st? What good is it fixating on a long list of goals to meet for the new year, when that clearly is too much to handle at once? Being healthy is a process. It is what we do on a day-to-day basis, not just at the beginning of a new calendar that shapes our health. It is our lifestyle that matters. Live in the present, focus on what you can do today for yourself, and for those around you. Pay attention to how your body feels at the moment – is the hunger up near the taste palate, emotional, or is it physical signs of hunger?
Here’s a little bit of New Years wisdom from a most adorable 4-year old: A 4-year old explains the problem with New Year’s resolutions (Apparently an effective form of emphasis is repetition….so here it is again: Don’t be fooled by the small and mighty!)
Cheers to a year of self-compassion. Focus on feeling nourished – whether it be through food, relationships or gains in knowledge. Moreover, focus on nourishing yourself.
Happy New Years! Big love.