With “weight loss” ranked as number one in the top 10 New Year’s resolutions, followed by “staying fit and healthy” at number five, how do you navigate the challenge of having (truly) health-related goals without falling into the trap of dieting, weight-cycling, yo-yo-ing, and obsessing?
As the new year begins, I can already sense the underlying anxiety which is sure to surface when the diet programs fail, and people are tricked into believing that it is they who have failed. Let me set the record straight:
When you don’t reach your weight-related New Year’s resolution as promised by the diet, or when you are unable to maintain the weight loss, it is not you who has failed – it is the DIET. (This includes the diets that pretend they are not “diets”… Yes, I’m talking to you, Oprah and Weight Watchers!)
SO, how do you stay sane in the midst of the food and body-focused resolutions?
Here are four suggestions to help you focus on, and stand firm in, true health this year:
#1 Reevaluate your New Year’s resolution to create a health-focused goal that is truly healthy
What if there is a way to have a health-related goal, without the requirement of restricting your food intake or killing yourself at the gym? Instead of working to abide by a set of rules and restrictions imposed on you by some fad program resulting in a detached relationship with your body, I propose you aim to take a more intuitive approach that cultivates an attuned and connected relationship with your body.
By resolving to live “intuitively,” you might become:
- more in tune with your hunger/fullness signals and your energy levels
Whereas, a dieting and restrictive approach might lead you to feel:
- a greater disconnect from your body’s signals and levels
In short, an intuitive approach helps you to get more in touch with your needs while a dieting/restrictive approach teaches you to ignore your needs.
As you become more connected to your body and its cues, you begin to respond to its needs. For example, you may become better at recognizing when you’re hungry or full, and as a result, might eat in a more balanced and enjoyable way.
Side note: this “intuitive” lifestyle – tuning into what you need – can be applied to your emotional, mental, and spiritual health as well as physical!
#2 Resist the temptation to jump on the bandwagon
I know it can be hard to resist the fads that promise “quick and lasting results” claiming to make you “look better, feel better, and be better.” There is a lot of money behind these promises, which is why the ads can feel so enticing and inescapable!
But, take a second to think about what makes these promises so attractive to you.
- Is it the hope of reaching true happiness?
- Is it the feeling of having a goal to work toward?
- Is it the promise of attaining a certain look which guarantees social acceptance, approval, or love?
Finding out why you are drawn to these food and body-related resolutions might reveal a deeper need that can be addressed in other, more productive, ways.
#3 Temper your involvement with social media
Social media… the place where humans can invent the life they want others to see, receive feedback on the mirror pics portraying weekly weight loss, find a sense of accountability in posting photos of all the strictly “healthy” meals they are eating, and so much more. I totally understand why people post these types of things – it’s a great way to get accolades for your “successes” and to feel accountable to adhere to your publicly proclaimed plan when you’re tempted to go astray.
BUT, for those of us who are not engaging in these endeavors it can be really challenging to resist the pressure to join the fad diets when all you see in your social media feed are pictures of weight-loss/muscle-building results or photos of “clean-eating.”
So, if you are choosing to refrain from engaging in diet and weight-related resolutions this year, it might be a good idea to limit your involvement with social media, or unfollow those who post triggering photos.
It’s not worth it to unnecessarily expose yourself to images that detract from your path to true wellbeing.
The same can be said about ads. Maybe hit the “mute” button during commercial breaks or look away from the annoying ads on the side of the webpage.
#4 Choose a mantra or grounding statement for yourself
When you come across a social media post about weight loss, or when you see another ad about the latest diet and exercise regime, what is something you can say to yourself that will re-ground you and bring you back to your true goal?
It might be something like:
“I know diets don’t actually work, and there is research to show that”
“I’ve been down that road before, and it did not bring me lasting happiness”
“My goal is to be more connected with and kind to my body this year”
“I’m choosing to listen to my body, not the ads”
Come up with a statement that feels meaningful and effective. Feel free to share your mantra in the comments section below if you feel comfortable doing so. Maybe it will inspire someone else!
Perhaps you can resolve for 2017 to be the year when you:
become more attuned to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs
respond to your needs with kindness
treat your body with love and acceptance
eating what it really needs and wants when it gives you signals
providing the movement it enjoys when it craves it
Instead of forcing your body into behavior change based on some external set of rules or restrictions, see what comes as a byproduct of self-compassion. Eating and moving from a place of self-compassion sounds so much more pleasant than dieting and exercising from a place of body-hatred.
If you are ready to make a change this year, contact me to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation.