So...anyone feeling pressure to start a new diet or exercise plan to make your body look better? Maybe lose a few pounds? Maybe tone up? At the start of the New Year, diet and exercise commercials abound, sales on workout clothing and equipment begin, and gyms aggressively recruit new members. Everywhere you turn there is a way for you to transform your body. If you would just spend enough money, use enough willpower, and find exactly the right trick, you could have a body like (insert famous gorgeous person who has probably been photoshopped). It seems like most of our culture is making New Year's Resolutions to change their body. The problem is that most of the hype is to sell products, and the results are short-lived.
What if you did something different this year and stopped focusing on your body? Here are my best tips for making your New Year's Resolutions body positive.
1. Don't diet. Almost all diets fail, and the people who can keep up a diet usually have a disordered relationship with food. Deprivation goes against your biology and creates problems for mental health. Additionally, yo-yo diets create the problems that most people associate with obesity. So think about starting a diet in the New Year, then failing because it was too strict. Then you do it again next January. And the next, and the next.... That's yo-yo dieting. It's time to stop the cycle.
2. Since the new health trend is actually a "lifestyle change", I'd better address this separately. Don't make any lifestyle changes that focus on changing your looks. If you are cutting out food groups, following rigid meal plans, limiting your intake, counting calories, or taking measurements of your body you are most likely trying to change your body. There are other ways to nourish and respect your body that don't require you to fit your body in a narrow definition of health and beauty.
3. Throw away your scale. Any health and fitness plan that focuses on your weight is going to let you down sooner or later. There are so many other measures for health that are more accurate and descriptive than your weight. Your weight does not define your worth!
4. Incorporate physical activities into your life that you enjoy for the fun of it! Don't use exercise as a way to punish yourself for enjoying the Holidays. If exercise causes pain, exhaustion, or loathing, you could probably find a better way to move your body. I discovered a long time ago that I hate running on treadmills. I do enjoy running short distances outside and with friends. I also discovered that I don't like lifting weights, but I do like yoga. Last year I decided to start road biking with my friends, and I loved it! This year I'm making a goal to ride a race at a longer distance than I did last year. I don't need to lose weight in order to bike with my friends or build my endurance. I do it because I value physical activity, and I actually like it. Weight loss has nothing to do with it.
5. Make goals that increase intellectual, emotional, relational, social, or spiritual health and well-being. Focusing on your inner world will help you take the focus away from your body's flaws and imperfections. For example, you could make a goal to read a certain number of books, start a habit of meditation, go on date nights with your spouse, start volunteering at a nursing home, or study religious texts. Being healthy in these others ways is actually more attractive anyway!
6. Use social media wisely. Those who compare themselves to others often feel worse after being on social media. Remember that people are usually only posting their best moment and their best selfies. In fact, most teenagers, women, and even men enhance their own photos with apps and filters. Try to have uplifting conversations and interactions. Eliminate fitspiration and thinspiration from your social media feeds. These cause more symptoms of depression, anxiety, and poor body image than they inspire.
7. Consider adding a goal to directly increase your body image. Perhaps this could be to eliminate "fat talk" from your conversations. Maybe you will throw out all of your fashion magazines. Maybe you will vow to buy clothes that fit your current body as it is. For other ideas, check out my blog post on appreciating your body. Learning to accept your body will help you save money every January at the very least; at the most it will provide you with a life-long peaceful relationship with your one and only home to your soul.
What other tips would your offer to make body positive resolutions?