Happy New Year! 2013 is opening up as a bright, fresh breath of air, full of possibilities! How do you approach the New Year? Are you one who makes resolutions to change something, start something or stop something? Are you one to focus on deepening practices that you are already currently doing? Whatever your approach, the underlying theme that I hear from clients (and from myself!) is: I want to be happy and healthy. This is a very doable, energized mindset — but what if you are setting yourself up to fail? The way that we approach this goal is critical to our end result.
The #1 New Year’s Resolution in America is to lose weight. We have all been there. I have been there. I committed myself to working out every day for 30 minutes and had a “goal weight” that I wanted to reach by a “goal date”. Then, when my stamina for getting up early to go work out wore down, I felt badly about myself. When I wanted those delicious foods that I really enjoy but couldn’t have them because they weren’t part of my “diet”, I felt badly about myself. When I lost 10 pounds, I felt proud, like I had accomplished a goal (more of an uphill climb). . . but then that satisfaction wore off and the weight I’d lost came right on back. I felt devastated. This is very common. Why?
Why does weight loss have such a powerful and motivating force upon us? It can make us feel elated — for a while. Then when it’s not sustainable it can make us feel some of those uncomfortable feelings (guilt. . . shame. . . disappointment) . . .when we don’t “succeed” at it. This sets us up to continually feel badly about ourselves, initiating a cycle of dieting and deprivation that only leads down a road of misery and yearning for that chocolate chip cookie. Dieting is the leading cause of eating disorders (note: not everyone who goes on a diet develops an eating disorder, however, the diet mentality is a strong trigger for those who might be at risk for eating disorders) and can also lead to bingeing, purging, and other self-destructive behaviors. Losing weight can “talk a big talk” and convince us that we will love ourselves if only we weighed X amount. It sure is convincing — and a lot of pressure! What’s the deeper need? And how can we meet that as well?
I’m not saying that it’s not okay to have goals, intentions, motivations — I think those can be very healthy and enriching things! I am asking us to contemplate the types of goals that we set and the
reasons we are setting them. As I mentioned earlier, the most common desire for those setting resolutions is to be happy and healthy. Yes, for some this means losing weight in order to lower blood pressure or decrease the risk of diabetes or other health-related reasons. For those who are looking to lose weight so that they will feel better about themselves, I believe that there has to be more to it than that. Just losing weight is not going to make you feel better about yourself (see above). In face, it may have the opposite effect (again, see above).
I ask you:
what are you really looking for? What do you truly need?
Some answers might be:
happiness self-acceptance self-esteem self-love energy feeling healthier being accepted by others fitting in having something to be proud of
…and others. Does weight loss bring these things to you? I want to invite a radical idea: what if you accepted yourself just as you are today? What if you didn’t need to change/add/subtract/stop anything about yourself to be happy and accepted? Close your eyes for one minute and try to imagine what that might be like.
You. Are. Beautiful. Just. As. You. Are. ! These are intentions that foster recovery from eating disorders, addictions, low self-esteem, and other issues.
Special New Year’s bonus: Download my “
NewYearsIntentions” handout that encourages reflection of the past year and includes a guided meditation to embrace intentions for 2013. I hope that this year is a happy, balanced, nourishing year for you all!
Looking for a guide on your journey of self-discovery?
Send me an email and let’s chat! I offer a complimentary consultation to explore what this exciting chapter of your life might look like!