It’s that time of year again. Gym memberships are on sale, detox recipes grace the cover of every “health” magazine you see, and everyone and their brother is vowing to work off the holiday guilt and make this year the year they lose those last ten pounds. Year after year millions of Americans resolve to “get fit”, “lose weight”, or stick to the newest restrictive diet they’ve found. And if you’re not setting a New Year’s Resolution that revolves around losing weight, looking “better”, or getting fit, someone is probably criticizing you for it.
I won’t lie and say I haven’t fallen into this resolution trap. Consumed by diet culture, I’ve made my fair share of resolutions to eat “healthier”, do more core exercises, or get abs by bikini season. The thing is, never once did these resolutions make my life better in any way. Sticking to these resolutions never made me happier, all they did was drive me deeper into my eating disorder. More often than not, New Year’s Resolutions are just an excuse to practice disordered eating habits.
What diet culture has done is made it not only acceptable, but expected, that people will flaunt harmful eating behaviors and be praised for it, instead of being offered help.
New Year’s Resolutions are well-intended. There’s nothing wrong with setting a measurable goal in order to improve one’s life, but I’d like to challenge the idea that resolutions revolving around changing one’s body are a truly meaningful life goal.
I’d like to challenge the idea that resolutions revolving around changing one’s body are truly meaningful life goals.
According to an article in Forbes, a mere eight percent of people who set New Year’s Resolutions sucessfully acheive them. Maybe this is an indication that the resolutions we all set to get fit, lose weight, or eat better in the New Year don’t accurately represent our priorities.
Will setting a weight loss goal for the sake of looking better truly add value to your life? Do you want to hit the gym more because you actually enjoy the movement? Are you resolving to become vegan for moral beliefs or Instagram likes?
I may be alone in this, but I believe New Year’s Resolutions should add value to your life and carry an aim to make you a better person.
We can all use improvement, and resolutions can directly relate to that. What I do not believe in is that saying no to pizza or taking up a little less space in the world actually makes you a better, more valuable person. So before you set a resolution this year, think about what you hope to add to your life. Really reflect on your past year and what you want for yourself moving forward. Think about what goals you want to set and then examine if these goals would remain the same if you weren’t posting them on social media. If you’re making a resolution based on the social media feedback you expect, maybe rethink that resolution. Again, there is nothing wrong with making a New Year’s resolution, but be sure to set a goal that is meaningful, one that will make you a better and happier person.
Here are some of my ideas for resolutions that feel more valuable than losing those last ten pounds:
Set a time to call your parent(s) every week
Be more compassionate
Volunteer for something at least once a month
Subscribe to a new podcast
Regularly read (or listen to) the news from a perspective you disagree with
Delete one of your social media channels
Try a new food every month
Read more books (and keep a log)
Write a letter to an old friend once a month
Practice saying no
Remove diet culture from your life and respectfully confront people who engage in it
What resolutions are you making in the New Year? How will your resolution make you, and those around you, better?
This year, do not let the pressure of diet culture lure you into false self-improvement and pressure you into a resolution that amounts to nothing more than aesthetic gain. This year, take care of yourself by making a resolution that will make your life greater instead of make you smaller. You are intelligent, you are beautiful, you are enough.
I’m a co-founder of the Lane 9 Project, a community for active women to be open about the struggles of disordered eating in sport. If you’re struggling with your weight, disordered eating, and running (or sport), please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Lane9Project@gmail.com