New Year’s Resolutions
Don’t Make Them If You’re Gonna Break Them
I hate New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe it’s because I’m not organized enough to think about what I really want to change. Or, perhaps it’s because I don’t like setting myself up for failure. It’s December 31 and I’m finally getting to write this New Year’s post. And here’s why. I feel the need to warn you. If you’re not prepared to work on your goals on December 30th, before the New Year, then don’t expect miracles to happen on January 1st. If you’re committed to change, to work on your eating and eating behaviors, you can and should start on a Friday, or a Tues, or the 12th of January, for instance, rather than waiting for January 1st or a Monday.
But if you do feel ready for change, please consider these strategies.
- Set small, realistic goals. Set them so absurdly small that you are guaranteed success in achieving them. From there you could build on those new behaviors resulting in a greater impact on your health and wellbeing.
- Focus on achieving healthier behaviors, rather than targeting a change in weight (regardless of the direction your weight needs to head.) For instance, work on avoiding long periods without food. Keep snacks available, preventing impulsive eating resulting from excessive hunger. Eating modest amounts throughout the day better fuels your body, so you’ll feel better between meals.
- Caution: resolving to be good is a huge trap. Even the use of the words good and bad have no place describing our eating. You are not bad, as in a bad, or immoral person, simply because you ate in excess. For many, the resolve to be good (for instance, the next morning after overeating) really means restricting or eating lightly.
And where does that lead you? Let’s look at this chain of events:
- You start off early in the day with the goal of being good, or in your mind, eating light.
- You deny later morning hunger.
- You might further be exposed or triggered by food on the counter or other food temptations.
- You’re now starving. (You may see this as a positive, but ultimately it will result in trouble).
- You overeat.
- You get angry with yourself, feeling defeated, like a failure. Feeling that you’ve blown it, one of two things result.
- You continue the downward spiral, thinking it just doesn’t matter anymore
- You resolve to be good tomorrow, and set yourself up with unrealistic expectations. And so the cycle continues.
Breaking the Cycle
Instead of trying to be good, focus on honoring your hunger. For many of you, those hunger cues aren’t working too well, (due to chronic restriction and slowed metabolic rate, or slowed stomach emptying, making you feel full much longer than most people, or simple because of high volume intake of low calorie food and drinks).So for now, you’ll need to make a point of scheduling frequent feedings. Generally, I recommend not exceeding 3 ½ or 4 hours max. Give yourself permission to eat, meals and snacks.
Remember—slips happen. (Perhaps a bumper sticker in my future?) Instead of thinking you’re a failure at this, that you’ll never have control over getting healthy, consider any positive changes you have made. Don’t beat yourself up for your slips. Rather, try to track how and why they occurred. What can you learn from the past slip? And what are you going to do differently.
Here’s a New Year’s resolution worth considering. Be kinder, more compassionate to yourself. And consider every day a clean slate (not a clean plate). It’ll work better than absolutely any diet!
Happy New Year, readers!