How to Set a New Year's Resolution that Sticks
Lose the Unbearable Weight of New Year’s Resolutions
Often when we want to change something within our lives, within ourselves, about ourselves we’re given to wait for some sort of temporal milestone – that is, we wait for Mondays, for foreign holidays, for big birthdays, for Weddings…for New Years.
We look for endings within beginnings; for fresh starts amidst stale endings and reinvention after periods of perceived self-ruination.
New Years have become almost synonymous with the notion of there having to be a new you.
Yet, these resolutions are more like reso-illusions.
The idea suggests that you’re going to just bag up and clear away your old self and your old habits along with the discarded party streamers and plastic champagne glasses.
Studies indicate that a majority of these fresh starts are weight related, with approximately 50% of all women, irrespective of their weight class (i.e. those considered as above average weight, underweight, average, etc) setting weight loss as a New Year’s resolution from 2009- 2011 .
Accordingly, the most popular resolutions primarily concerned physical appearance/ health – with 33% looking for improved health, 20% chasing weight-loss and 13% hoping to alter their eating habits .
However, approximately 73% of these women self-reported that they had consistently failed to achieve their weight loss goal – let alone maintain the marginal and momentary losses achieved.
If anything in setting the goal to lose weight as a sole New Year’s Resolution just results in a the loss of days, hours, and minutes dedicated to erasing yourself instead of embracing yourself.
The reasons for these self-perceived failures were varied, however most agreed that it was primarily due to it taking too long before results were visible or a loss/ lack of confidence. However, these women admitted that they were still simultaneously desperately motivated to try anything if weight loss could be achieved and maintained .
Post New Year’s resolution, a majority of these women felt as though they fell into a negative downward spiral of never believing that they would succeed in aspects beyond their initial weight loss goal.
Conversely, participants who did not establish weight-loss as their primary goal reported themselves to be 75% successful in maintaining their resolutions beyond a fifteen-week period .
So what is the alternative?
Let us tell you.
Three Alternate Anti-Diet New Year Actions
Given those statistics, as opposed to establishing resolutions that fundamentally focus on making yourself less, perhaps seek to implement actions?
Afterall, you’ve nothing to lose except the weight of diet-culture or the days you would have wasted on diets, detoxes, and ditched attempts.
It’s also important to remember that weight is NOT a behaviour to change and by solely using this as a marker of progress makes any other positive health behaviour futile.
ONE. Buy clothes that fit your body
The clothes we buy should fit our bodies instead of us trying to change our bodies to fit them. Be brutally honest with yourself – did these clothes only fit when you were engaging in restrictive eating and/ or over exercising? Are you keeping them with the aim of fitting into them again one day and using them as a tool to make yourself feel worse?
Dress for the beautiful body you have, not the body you had or the body you feel you should have.
Ditch the diet mentality anything vaguely resembling a hair shirt (i.e. shirts that were made of uncomfortable fabric/ hair used a tool for self-punishment by some Western religions) in your wardrobe.
TWO. Out with calorie tracking and in with Intuitive eating
As opposed to looking to lose x-amount of kgs, and focusing on external metrics, measurements, and a myopic fixation on the morality of food, seek to practice intuitive eating, mindfulness and focusing on what fills you up beyond the parameters of your plate or appearance.
THREE. Digital Detox
Give green juices and detox (aka laxative) teas a miss this year, as the only toxins you need to rid yourself of are any social media accounts, mass media publications, and fundamentally anything that you consume that is given to negatively consume you.
If you’re keen to see in the New Year as your same fabulous self, just with a little more nutrition intuition, self-acceptance and body-neutrality, then we are here to help! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charlotte Munro, BSc
EHL Team x
- Marlatt, G and Kaplan, B (1972), ‘Self-Initiated Attempts to Change Behavior: A Study of New Year’s Resolutions’, Psychological Reports, 30(1), doi: doi.org/10.2466/pr0.19188.8.131.52
- Osscarson, M et al. (2020), ‘A large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals’, PLoS One, 15(12), pp.1-13. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0234097
- Rossner, S et al. (2011), ‘New Year’s Resolutions to Lose Weight – Dreams and Reality’, The European Journal of Obesity, 4, pp. 3-5. doi: 10.1159/000324861