I’ve done it so many times before, knowing fully how icky it feels in a few weeks or months when I realize the little progress I’ve made towards my resolution.
I’ve done it so many times before: the same goal with a plethora of labels, each a disguise with the same underlying idea – to lose weight, to be tinier, to feel healthier, to wear a smaller size, to eat better, to strive for wellness.
Sometimes, I don’t even wait for the new year. Often, this goal comes before a special occasion, a pending vacation (this time I will surely have a six-pack), an upcoming event. The daydreamer in me takes over, and I can feel the emotions as if they are real – the pride, the confidence, the wave of perfection that will wash over me when I finally love my body.
As I sit to write this article, I strive to find the words to gently nudge you all to choose a different resolution this year. Instead, I’d like to be direct.
I plead as we start this new year, this new decade: please do not resolve to change your body.
As a goal-oriented individual, I am all about change. In this particular instance, however, I promise, it is acceptance that will fill you up the most. I’ve done all of the things listed above – I’ve lost weight, I’ve become tinier, I’ve felt healthy, I’ve worn smaller sizers, and I’ve created a life based on wellness, and yet weeks or months or years later, I have felt empty again.
I know I will still come to the same crossroad at some point in the future. It might be next week or next month, when I book my next vacation, or maybe when 2021 rolls around. I will be bombarded with messaging that tells me that in order to be happier, my body must be different, and I will have to challenge that message again and again. I want these words to be a beacon of light amongst every single blogger who boasts about their extra small size, every health magazine that compares the benefits of the latest diet trends, and every gym that runs a special this January with the unoriginal title “A New Year, a New You!” luring in all of us with a promise of finally feeling like we are enough.
As a fitness professional who once had a very strict and consuming approach to health and wellness, I have now taken a much gentler stance, and I’ve noticed a bigger difference in what matters.
Sure, I exercise, but it’s because I love the feeling of being sweaty, of moving my body, and the aftermath of endorphins. I eat a variety of foods and steer clear of diets with stringent rules or that set limitations on when and what I can eat. I understand and am learning to embrace that the way my clothes fit has nothing to do with my worth as a human.
Just like any new skill, learning to love my body is something I must choose to do.
If you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution that has more to do with acceptance and less to do with change, try a few of these New Year’s resolutions instead:
I resolve to be open-minded about food.
Understand that food can be eaten for nourishment and fuel, enjoyment, nostalgia, and convenience. There are no good or bad foods; there is no perfect time to eat; there is no ideal level of fullness.
I resolve to listen to my body and follow her lead.
Use your judgement and internal barometer rather than arbitrarily setting a goal to work out for one hour a day or eat a certain number of calories. If you have an Apple Watch, here is your written permission slip: you do not have to actually close all three rings every single day. You know your body better than the square piece of technology that sits on your wrist.
I resolve to appreciate my body for all she has done and continues to do for me.
Try to focus on the miles you run chasing after your kiddos, the way your legs carry you daily from point A to point B, the way you can lift heavy things, the belly button that your kids love poking (just me?). If the small things your body does on the daily don’t fill you, remind yourself that you grew, birthed, and/or nourished another human. Your body is a very capable shell with so many amazing abilities.
I resolve to let go of numbers as they relate to my health.
Even if you’ve ditched the scale (something I highly recommend), numbers still have a sneaky way of creeping into our ideal vision of health and wellness. Your pants size, the number of minutes exercised, miles ran, fitness classes attended, cookies consumed, and homemade meals, do not define you.
I resolve to rest, relax, and recharge (almost) every. single. day.
In a world where being busy and doing more are rewarded daily, it can be hard to give yourself permission to do nothing, but it’s so very important. This means leaving things on your to-do list unchecked, so you can do the things that fill you up. Self-care can be so many things beyond those body-oriented things we often think of first. Schedule a coffee date with a friend, take a nap on the weekend when your kids do (even if you have other responsibilities you’re neglecting), journal, etc.