It’s another new year, and perhaps you’re feeling inspired to make some resolutions. How did you do with last year’s? It’s very common for people to set resolutions around losing weight and exercising. If you’re like a lot of people, you might aim for something extreme (lose half-a-stone in two weeks), give up before February and spend the rest of the year berating yourself for your “lack of willpower”.
If you’ve made weight loss or exercise resolutions before, do you even know why? For many years, I told myself every January that I needed to eat healthy and exercise. The reason behind it was something nebulous like “feeling better about myself” — I never had a solid motivation to do it, because it was always just down to the diet culture around me, making me feel like I had to be thin to measure up and be worth something.
2019 is my first new year after starting to eat intuitively and feel body-positive. Instead of focusing on punishing myself, my resolutions this year will be all about taking care of myself and doing more of what I love.
If you want to be more body-positive in 2019, why not try one of these?
1. Find joy in food
If you have concerns about your weight, food might be a source of stress at the moment. Maybe you feel guilty when you eat something outside of your diet plan. Maybe you feel shame when you binge. Maybe you feel good if you go to bed hungry. Whatever your current feelings around food, is there a way you can make the experience of eating more pleasurable? After all, you have to do it every single day so you might as well enjoy it. You could resolve to:
- Garnish one meal per day and present it to make it look as appetising as possible.
- Try one food you’ve never tried before every month this year.
- Eat one meal a week mindfully — no TV, no phone, no book.
- Cook a new international recipe every month.
Resolution: Whatever and however I eat, I’ll make at least one eating experience per month enjoyable.
2. Find movement you love
Whatever your size and physical ability, it’s likely that your health and longevity will improve if you move regularly. That means instead of resolving to start jogging three times a week before work (if you hate early starts and cold weather), you’d do better to choose some kind of movement you enjoy and can see yourself doing in the long term.
Redefine your idea of exercise. If you’ve focused on weight loss in the past, maybe you think it doesn’t count if you don’t sweat, or your muscles don’t ache the next day, or you don’t work out for at least 30 minutes.
Any movement counts. If you do 5 minutes of yoga every day for a year, that’s over 30 hours completed by 2020 — the equivalent of more than a 30-minute class every week. 5 minutes a day sounds like something you could do for the rest of your life, right?
Love walking? That counts. Playing frisbee with your dog in the park? That counts. Dancing in your bedroom to your favourite old songs? That counts. Just find something you enjoy and would want to do whether or not it had any influence on your weight or shape. Look for body-positive content like Zoe McNulty’s School of Strut, which focuses on making you feel fabulous while you move.
Resolution: I’ll find at least one way to move that I love, and move my body for 5 minutes a day.
3. Treat yourself kindly
A lot of diet culture is built around punishment and reward. If you work out, you can reward yourself with pizza. If you eat pizza, you have to punish yourself by working out. How about breaking free of that cycle?
You’ve probably heard the advice before to treat yourself like you’d treat a friend. If your friend missed a workout, hopefully you wouldn’t tell them “That’s just like you, you’ve got no willpower, you’re going to be fat and alone forever”. But how many of us talk like this to ourselves, not just once in a while, but multiple times a day.
Can you imagine cutting yourself some slack, as though you were your own friend? How would you console your friend who was feeling down about missing a workout? What would happen if you said the same thing to yourself.
We’re all doing the best we can in the situation we’re currently in, and we don’t need to be punished.
Resolution: I’ll listen to how I talk to myself, and only tell myself things I could say to a friend.
4. Love the body you’re in
If you don’t feel good about your body and your appearance, this may translate into not taking care of yourself. Are there any little steps you could take to make yourself feel happier in the body you’re in? You could:
- Paint your nails
- Wear your favourite perfume
- Dress up in your favourite outfit
- Give yourself a pedicure
- Put on a face mask
- Put on hand cream 5 times a day for the next week
Little things like this signal that you’re worth putting effort into, and that you can have good experiences right now — you don’t need to wait for the day when you judge yourself to be perfect.
Even if you don’t like your thighs, or your skin, or your back rolls, or your lips (or whatever other part you’ve been made to feel bad about), you can probably find one body part you feel a bit more neutral about. What about starting there?
Resolution: I’ll find a way to take care of my body and do it at least once a month.
5. Stop negative body talk
Whatever you think of yourself and your own body, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are people all around you who are on their own body-positive journey, and what you put out becomes part of what they take in.
Fat (like height) is on a continuum. You probably wouldn’t keep saying to your friend who is 6” shorter than you, “I’m so short, I wish I were taller”, because you wouldn’t want them to make them feel bad about their own height.
Well, if you’re, say, a UK size 12 and you constantly talk about how you’re fat and you need to lose weight, you’re automatically implying that everyone above that size is fat and needs to lose weight. That still holds true even if you say “Oh, not you, you’re fine, I’m just talking about myself”.
If you stop talking about what you think is wrong with your body, you give yourself a rest from the negative talk, and you contribute to a more supportive world for other people as well.
Resolution: I’ll only say good things about my body in public, or nothing at all.
If you try any of these resolutions in 2019, your body shape may or may not change, but odds are you’ll feel more comfortable with yourself by December 31st.
Originally published at positivelyvirtual.online on January 2, 2019.