Earlier this year I wrote a piece about failed New Year’s Resolutions. Now, another Resolution season is almost upon us, and I find myself reflecting on one of the most commonly failed New Year’s Resolutions — weight loss. Even for those who manage to lose weight, almost everyone will gain it all back, with the majority gaining back more than they lost.
Trying to make major life changes at the end of a holiday season that can leave us broke and physically and mentally exhausted is difficult enough and sets us up for failure.
But what’s the alternative?
Every year people make the life-changing, life-affirming decision to stop waging a losing war with their bodies and get off the diet roller coaster. However, when it’s time to make their resolutions, they often get stuck with a pretty basic question — if not weight loss, then what?
The good news is when we decide to stop spending our time, money, and energy trying to manipulate our body size, a whole world of possibilities opens up.
Instead of just another destined-to-fail New Year’s Resolution, we have the chance to create a New Year’s Revolution.
Here are some ideas to kick of the New Year by ditching dieting and creating a revolution in your own life, and ideas for resolutions that will take the revolution to the streets.
Let’s start with the personal.
One of the best places to start your revolution is to resolve to stop participating in negative body talk, starting with your mouth. When you have a negative thought or utterance, replace it with something (anything!) positive.
Decide to start and end every day by appreciating your body. Maybe put a note on your bathroom mirror or the ceiling above your bed that reminds you to bookend your day thinking or saying something like, “You’re a great body and I appreciate you” or “Thanks for everything you did for me today!”
While you’ve become wise to the ways of the diet industry, they are still out there duping people. And they’re good at it — to the tune of over $60 billion a year. They use plenty of that money to pummel us with a ceaseless barrage of marketing.
To avoid being tempted back into the weight loss equivalent of three-card Monty, you can resolve to create a quick phrase and say it to yourself (or out loud if you want to) every time you hear a message meant to make you feel bad about yourself or sell you a diet. My mantra is “Hey, that’s bullshit!” I have heard from other people who use phrases like “Never again, diet scum” and “Nope! Nope! Nope!” It can be anything that helps remind you to appreciate and support your body in a way that dieting won’t allow.
You Might Also Like: 4 Ways You Can Be Body Positive Even If You Still Hate Your Body
If you are choosing goals that support your health, first remember that health is not a barometer of worthiness entirely within our control or guaranteed under any circumstance. So, focus on setting goals around behaviors you can control rather than outcomes you can’t.
While you’re at it, consider making them additive (start getting body work, drink an extra glass of water, eat a serving of vegetables, or get an extra hour of sleep at night) rather than restrictive (like saying that you’ll never do/eat/be [whatever] again). If you’re looking for support in weight neutral discussions of fitness, check out Fit Fatties.
Now let’s talk about resolutions that create a greater revolution.
Consider the conversations and culture that you are part of and that you perpetuate.
Resolve to stop clicking on articles like “best and worst bikini bodies” etc. Resolve that when others start engaging in negative body talk, you will either just walk away or say something like, “I wish we could live in a world where we saw the beauty in everyone and didn’t try to tear other people down” or “I made a New Year’s Revolution to stop negative body talk. I’m just not interested in being part of that toxic culture anymore.”
Resolve to do one action each week (or whatever works for you) that makes the world more affirming of people of all sizes. It could be something as simple as posting something body-positive to your social media or signing a petition. You can also interrupt negative body talk, write an e-mail to a company using self-loathing as a marketing tactic, send a thank you letter to someone who supports you on your journey to size acceptance, or post a body-positive comment to a body-negative space online.
Resolve to reach out and join and/or create community — maybe it’s a body-positive club at your school or work or a body positive meet-up or Facebook group. You can also subscribe to blogs, Tumblrs, and Instagrams that support your commitment to caring for your body at its current size.
Most importantly, resolve to cut yourself some slack if you aren’t able to get this done 100% of the time.
We’re pushing back against a culture where self-loathing is the norm and where companies promote dieting as the only way out.
So if we slip back into this mentality, it’s not a big shock. The best thing we can do when this happens is to recognize it’s happened and move on. Continue to change the world by changing our world and staging a personal New Year’s Revolution.