Non-Diet New Year’s Resolutions
If you’re tired of trying to lose weight at the start of each year and want non-diet New Year’s resolutions that you can actually keep, this post is for you. Hopefully it inspires you to consider resolutions that are both healthy and doable.
1. Throw out the scale
Your worth is not measured by the number on a machine. If your mood is dictated by what the scale tells you, chuck the thing out unless you have a medical reason for monitoring weight gain. And you can refuse to be weighed at the doctor or ask them not to tell you the number.
2. Say no to restrictions
You don’t have to cut out any food, food group, alcohol or go on a calorie-restricted diet to be healthy. Restriction sets you up to overeat or overdrink, so tune into your body and listen to when it’s had enough of a certain food. Together with your stomach, taste buds, gentle nutrition, and past experience, your body and mind will let you know when you’ve had enough. If you have a tough time integrating all of these aspects, talk to a professional to help guide you through this intuitive process.
3. Nourish yourself regularly
Your body deserves to be fed on a regular basis. It likes consistency. Your metabolism needs fuel for it to work efficiently, and undereating makes it sluggish in the long-term. For most of us, nourishing ourselves regularly means three meals a day at a minimum. If you’re a snacker or trying to gain weight, this may also include 1-3 snacks per day.
4. Discover foods you actually enjoy
You don’t have to eat a food that doesn’t taste great just because it’s “healthy”. Conversely, you can decline a play food that looks or tastes meh. Balanced eating is making sure you include a variety of foods that are tasty and satisfying. If you are a picky eater and are trying to eat a wider variety of fruits and vegs, try changing up how they’re prepared. For example, I hate raw cherry tomatoes, but if they’re cut up and roasted, I enjoy them more.
5. Prioritize sleep
Not getting enough sleep leaves us grumpy, lowers our tolerance for stress, impacts our immune system and disconnects us from our bodies. If you can, try and get to sleep around the same time each day and develop a sleep hygiene routine that helps you decompress before you hit the sheets.
6. Learn to cultivate self-compassion
This one’s a biggie. Lots of us have a steady stream of criticism floating in our brains. As the wise Evelyn Tribole says, you are not your thoughts, you are not your feelings. You can choose what and how to react to the voices in your head, though this takes skill and time. In the beginning, be curious about the criticisms. Where do they come from? What are they trying to tell you? Is there intention to harm, help or keep you safe? Challenge the ones that no longer serve you. Replace them with gentler, more rational thoughts.
If in a moment of crisis you feel overwhelmed, scared or insecure, try one of the following affirmations:
- I am feeling (fill in your feeling here) right now. I will be fine. This feeling will pass.
- I am doing the best I can.
- I am only human. This is a universal experience. I am not alone.
7. Exercise for fun
If Crossfit is your jam, go for it. But if the thought of doing a burpee instills intense dread, this type of workout might not be for you. Try different exercise styles to discover workouts that you enjoy and give you energy. If you feel you have a healthy relationship with movement, find workouts that are challenging enough to give you a sense of progress.
No one drinks enough fluids. But in a world where detoxes are being sold everywhere, give your built-in detox machinery, your kidneys, and liver, a chance to do their jobs well. Plus, being hydrated just feels good. Just make note of your bathroom access.
9. Try scary foods
If you’ve been restricting certain foods and feel ready to eat them, reintroduce them in a way that feels manageable and safe: quiet place, not too hungry, eat slowly and savor. If doing this solo provokes anxiety, partner with an intuitive eating counselor because there may be lots of self-talk and deep-rooted beliefs to unpack, and a careful strategy to employ when trialing off-limit foods.
10. Make peace with your body
Probably the hardest resolution on the list. Accept that TODAY, no matter what you do, your body will not change. If you are just beginning your intuitive eating journey, it is difficult to say where your body will end up and that can be scary. It depends on genetics, dieting history, socioeconomic status, and so much more. Here are some helpful tips to get you started on your peace-making journey:
- Donate clothes that don’t fit
- Purchase comfortable clothing
- Curate your social media feed to include diverse bodies
- Try to be neutral about parts you dislike about yourself
- Minimize body checking in the mirror and amongst your peers
- Be curious about how your emotions might impact your self-image on a given day
- Read any of the books listed in this blog post and listen to podcasts like Food Psych
Healing your body image and getting to a place where you are body neutral requires a daily practice of patience, non-judgmental awareness, and self-compassion. Some days will be easier than others. Know that there will always be days you won’t like your body—IT’S NORMAL! Give yourself space to mess up, hate, feel meh or maybe even like a part of your body.
Realize that you’re swimming against the riptide that is diet culture with its unrealistic beauty expectations, so you may get jerked around and feel like your drowning. Over time, you will start swimming parallel to the shore, break out of the current and figure out how to get to a safe white sandy beach.
Resolutions with staying power
It’s hard not to get sucked into the yearly ritual that is New Year’s resolutions, especially weight-related ones, but this year you can truly resolve to do things differently. Although well-intentioned, many resolutions are unsustainable because they don’t align with your core values or because your body won’t support shrinking itself. My hope is that one or some of these non-diet New Year’s resolutions resonate with you and offer you a bit of guidance for making changes that are sustainable and health-promoting well into the next year.