New Year’s Resolutions: Do Yours Leave Room for Self-Love?
There is no question about it: the novelty of change is exhilarating. Although 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail, that doesn’t quiet the drive people get around the holidays to make substantial lifestyle changes, often related to health. Like clockwork, glossy weight loss magazines slowly migrate to the grocery store checkout aisles. Green smoothies start to infiltrate our social media platforms. Well-intentioned resolutioners claim that this year is the year they will lose the weight.
While setting health goals is well-intentioned, unexpected expectations could be damaging to your body and self-worth. Detoxing and cleansing stem from the philosophy that deprivation is purifying. This adds moralistic value of certain foods over others, adding a level of shame when you stray away from restrictive and unmaintainable diets. And what do many people do when they feel disheartened? They eat the very foods that they are trying to avoid.
So how do you improve yourself without doing harm?
1. Focus on self-love, not self-hate
Most Americans frame their resolutions around something that they don’t like about themselves. Rather than fixating on what you no longer want to be, you should shape your resolutions around positive feelings you want in life. For example, instead of saying “I want to lose 15 pounds” you should say “I want to feel stronger and more energetic.” Question what is preventing you from experiencing those feelings, and start making small, manageable changes that will create a happier you. You will find that feeling-based goals last longer because they honor your needs and allow for both immediate (post-workout endorphins anyone?) and long-term satisfaction.
2. Differentiate between health and vanity
I can’t tell you the amount of times I heard someone boast about losing 10 pounds because of the new detox regimen they are on. When I asked them how they felt on the cleanse, the answer is almost always “starving.” Torturing yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically for quick results on the scale is not the answer. In fact, it puts your health at risk! When it comes to rapid weight loss, the weight dropped is mostly water weight and muscle. Losing muscle mass not only decreases your strength but also your resting metabolic rate. This is why most people gain the weight back plus a few pounds after their cleanse has ended. Long-term weight loss takes a lot of time, effort and patience. Rather than letting your vanity take charge, focus on maintainable changes that keep your healthiest self in mind.
3. Celebrate the small stuff
Oftentimes, New Year’s resolutions are driven by outcomes, not progress. This is why many people give up their commitments by mid-February. It’s easy to become demotivated when your brain is stuck in big picture mode. By being present and appreciating your small successes, you are much more likely to stick with the goals you sought to achieve. Not sure of how to celebrate the little victories in life? Check out some of these fun ideas that won't set you back.
I wish you all a year of self-discovery, self-kindness and of course, self-improvement.