There is a lot of talk online these days about how people are saying “f New Year’s resolutions” this year, I feel like more so than any other year. The narrative behind this is the fact that 2020 was brutal, and let’s all just get through 2021 without too much stress or worry. And I get that completely.
2020 was consuming. It hurt my head and my heart. At the beginning of the first lockdown, my anxiety was at an all-time high, as was my drinking (not entirely unrelated, but that’s for another post). My physical activity was at an all-time low. I was often scared and often alone…alone with my thoughts, which would run rampant due to my big imagination and deep-rooted anxiety. As someone who thrives off of other’s energies, I felt exhausted, drained. There were no people for me to hug, feel, touch, connect with. I am lucky enough that I do not live alone, and my boyfriend and I had each other to get through the darkest times, but that social interaction that my body literally craves was gone. And then it was back. And now, lockdown 2, it’s gone again.
This brings me to my argument FOR New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I must confess that I LOVE making them, and if you do too, know that regardless of what 2020 threw at us, making resolutions for 2021 is not wrong. And here’s why…
In times of stress and anxiety, taking on goal-oriented projects can work to calm the mind, stop those running thoughts, and give you something to focus time and energy on that isn’t self-sabotaging. Resolutions can help you set achievable, measurable goals and action steps to reach these goals that, when implemented, will help to take your mind away from damaging run-away thoughts and feelings of despair and powerlessness. To be honest, I like to call them New Year’s Solutions rather than resolutions, using them as a means of solving a problem or issue versus a firm decision to do or not do something.
Another reason I love making New Year’s Solutions is my innate desire to learn and grow as a person. I am always a work in progress, and not from the perspective that I constantly need improvement, but rather from the standpoint that creating growth, gaining knowledge, and expanding your mind can only better your life, not worsen it.
One of the issues people have with New Year’s resolutions is that most of them result in “failure” – in quotations because when you fall short of maintaining a behaviour or habit, I don’t see it as a failure, but as a learning opportunity. In fact, in every success and motivation book I have read as of late – and there’s been a lot, let me tell you – fucking up is part of success. There are no failures, only lessons. If you can shift your mind to make goals that are about progress, not perfection, and focus on progressively building a habit rather than an “all or nothing” attitude, you’ll find that your goals seem more achievable. They will become more about the journey and less about the end game, more learning about yourself and less being hard on yourself, more joy and less guilt.
Another issue with New Year’s resolutions that irks me to no end is their overwhelming focus on weight loss. Why is this such an issue for me, a nutritionist? Because YOUR WEIGHT DOES NOT DEFINE YOU! Read that again. Say it over and over. What you weigh has NOTHING to do with your beauty or your worth. Your weight may have some health implications, this is true, but again that is for another post. Also, after the brutal year that was 2020, I take issue with focusing on loss…haven’t we lost enough?
I can tell you from experience with myself and my clients that focusing on health gains vs weight loss always has better results, leads to less disappointment and guilt, and doesn’t keep you tied to a scale or a mirror focusing on your size and appearance. In fact, chances are that size and appearance you are aiming for in terms of weight loss is unrealistic, and you may also be using unhealthy and all-consuming methods to try and achieve something that is out of reach. Talk about feelings of guilt and failure! There is no ideal size or best weight for you. Your best bet is to focus your New Year’s Solutions on progressively incorporating healthy habits and how you feel versus how you look or what you weigh. Shift your mind from weight loss to feel good – learn to listen to your body closely and dig your heels deep into those habits that make your mind, body, and spirit truly thrive rather than just survive.
So what are my New Year’s Solutions this year?
- Learn to speak Italian by aiming for 20min of practice per day, 5 days a week (NOTE: this has been a goal of mine for a few years, and I just keep plugging away on again/off again)
- Increase my hamstring flexibility by doing deep stretch yoga 1-2x per week, basic stretches daily
- Eat foods that make me FEEL GOOD by tuning in to how my body and brain respond to what I eat
- Maintain the practice of movement that makes me happy 5 days a week
- Try to go for a walk outside every day – length of time doesn’t matter
- Reduce waste, buy less/secondhand/local, and be more planet-friendly
These aren’t huge goals, but they will be life-changing for me; they are attainable, measurable, progressive, and won’t result in feelings of failure if I miss a day or a week. They are about expanding my mind, maintaining mobility, keeping my mind happy and healthy, and ultimately feeling good in my body and feeling good with myself: no guilt, no perfection, baby steps to create habits.
So will you join me? Will you see the great potential that is this new year and create some New Year’s Solutions that are good for your body, mind, soul and planet?
Comment below one thing you’re going to focus on this year that will make you FEEL GOOD.