A New Way To Approach Your New Year’s Resolution(s)
Making lifestyle changes can be hard; really hard. Every year, January 1st marks a clean slate, an opportunity for us to improve upon the year behind us. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, about 40% of these resolutions are focused on weight loss, which is crazy given the weight loss and cosmetic fitness industries that promote products depend on our failures to stay in business. After all, if we didn’t fail on last year’s diet, then we wouldn’t be seeking another one to try this year!
For some, New Year’s resolutions include goals to eat less sugar, calories, fat or processed foods or possibly to exercise more consistently, for longer duration or at greater intensity. I’ve always admired the gusto that can accompany these resolutions but I’ve also witnessed a pattern in my lifetime (which research supports) with these often overzealous goals….Too often, we fall short of the desired change(s) we resolve to make and end up frustrated, feeling like a failure and blaming ourselves and/or our body for not being able to achieve our “resolution.”
Often times, the improvements we desire to make are based on strict rules or rigid guidelines, that don’t involve self-love. And commonly, these goals don’t involve developing a greater love and respect for our body and all it does for us. Instead the lack of self-love creates stress that seeps into other parts of our lives and begins to degrade our sense of self-worth and competence. Hating on our bodies and only conditionally loving ourselves (when we lose those last 10 pounds, can fit into those size 6 jeans or can follow our calorie-restrictive diet 100% of the time), unintentionally supports an unfortunate set of acceptable standards that have been established by the industries that want to sell you their “latest and greatest” products.
There is an optimistic reason we make resolutions every January 1. We desire to grow and improve and live life to the fullest. What if this year, we approached the New Year with a different mindset? What if the goal was to love ourselves a little better? Too be less critical of our shortcomings? To look in the mirror and see the beauty instead of the flaws? To treat ourselves with the same respect that we give our friends and loved ones?
The decision and implementation to make this shift in mindset is really not that difficult. In fact, almost everyone I’ve ever met is capable of sticking to this goal. Yes it will take work, and yes it will be difficult (there will always be attacks on our desire to be the happiest version of ourselves), but we are all capable of LOVING ourselves MORE.
Imagine an outlook on the year that gives you permission to celebrate small victories (drinking more water, eating less processed food, increasing your vegetable intake, eliminating food additives or other toxic substances in your diet) and at the same time allows you grace to not be so focused on your weight but instead, more focused on respecting your body and all it is capable of. After all, we are in this body for our lifetime, so it makes sense that we begin to treat it with respect and care from the inside out. By focusing on not detaching from your body and considering it “a problem, disgusting, or fat” (all descriptive terms I hear far too often) but instead moving towards being in-tune, kind, compassionate towards this amazing vessel is a journey that will help you love yourself more.
Here are a few strategies to get you going…
Envision being happy with yourself for getting to the gym three times this week (that’s two more times than your last week’s average!), instead of being upset that you didn’t reach your goal of five days. Or imagine complimenting yourself on the healthy meal you were able to make for your family, instead of criticizing yourself for the lack of ability to execute such a meal every night of the week.
Make a list of your top 10 qualities. Sounds easy enough right?! If this isn’t something that comes naturally for you and you find yourself getting stuck, then ask your best friend, mom or dad, closest sibling and/or boss to offer up a quality or two that they consider to be representative of you. This act alone of asking others will put you in better awareness of your own self. Refer to this list of positives anytime your thoughts try to take you to
Choose a word (or words) to focus on for the New Year, something that resonates with you and creates a feeling of happiness inside. (My words for the year are inspire and engage, as I want to encourage and motivate those who I have the honor of spending my time with while being engaged and present in all that I do). Try to focus on that word as often as you can. Put up post it notes with your word in places you frequent as a constant reminder of what is most important to you in the New Year.
Try to focus on being in the moment and laughing about the little stuff (I struggle with this, so it is on my radar for 2015). Make a conscience effort to spend more time appreciating the little things in life that can often get overtaken by stress and a busy schedule. Remember that change always involves baby steps as well as setbacks. There will always be many things in our life that we can’t control, so accepting this well-known fact and focusing on our attitudes towards ourselves and others, is really one of the most beneficial things we CAN do.
My challenge to you is to start the New Year with a NEW attitude that focuses on LOVING YOURSELF MORE (which will naturally help you become more positive and better able to love those around you)!
If you need support, encouragement or tools to get yourself in this mindset, email me! firstname.lastname@example.org