I hate New Years Resolutions. Really and truly I do.
If you think about a New Year’s Resolution, it doesn’t really make any sense. What makes January 1st any different than any other day of the year? I understand that there is a momentum for change that happens in the beginning of the year, because everyone wants to make this year better: finally lose those 15 pounds, give up smoking, exercise more, etcetera, etcetera. But how many of us have made resolutions in the beginning of the year just to forget about them come February?
Truth be told, I’ve had a mixed success rate as far as my resolutions have been concerned, and nothing I’ve resolved on January 1st to do has ever really stuck. But that may be because of the type of resolution I’ve made in the past. It seems that for the past few years, I’ve always had some level of weight loss as my goal for the year. I’ve even come up with plans to achieve that weight loss, such as exercise schedules, new diets to try, and a variety of magazine cutouts featuring super-fit supermodels as my ‘motivation’ to keep me on target.
Now, I know this may sound a bit pathetic to some people, but I’m guessing that there are a bunch of you out there that have been in the same boat as me. Maybe it’s been 10 pounds, maybe its been 50 pounds, but I bet there are many of you that have had some arbitrary scale number that you wanted to attain by a certain time in the new year.
I’ve come to the realization lately, after reading a few excessively obsessive blog posts by other Paleo bloggers (I won’t name names) who talk about ‘hacking’ their diet to the point where every single molecule of food that goes into their mouth is accounted for, portioned out by some mathematical formula that has been developed to help them achieve their optimum body fat percentage. Whether its a number on a scale or a bioelectrical impedance analyzer, I’ve noticed that its become a point of obsession for many people in the Paleo community.
Now, I think wanting to improve your health is fine. But to be so focused on arbitrary numbers like body fat percentage, and to obsess about it to the point where you don’t think about anything else except the exact breakdown of your next meal, it makes me start to wonder… what is the point?
Are you going to be that much happier if you lose that last 5-10 pounds, or drop your body fat another 2%? Is your life all the sudden going to become perfect and free of any problems or worries? Will you suddenly be a more worthy person to others if you reach your goal weight? Seriously, what is the purpose of achieving that weight loss?
I’ve definitely been caught up with the scale before. I’ve given myself a lot of anxiety trying to fit in a certain size pair of jeans, or drop below a certain goal weight by a certain time period. But then I’ve started thinking lately… is being a certain weight going to make me happier? Does having a few extra pounds of body fat make me less of a good person?
Don’t I have more to contribute to the world than a ‘perfect’ body?
I’d like to think that I do! There is far more to life than physical perfection, and while I feel that being healthy is extremely important, there’s no point of being healthy if you’re not using your healthy body to go out and LIVE your life. Whether that living involves doing fun activities, helping other people, or contributing value to society, I think sometimes its important to step back and think about why it matters whether you are healthy or not… because physical appearance should be a result of improving your health, not the end goal in itself.
No one has ever saved the world by looking hot… just sayin’.
Therefore, I’ve decided to take a different route with my ‘resolutions’ this year. No more ‘lose this number of pounds’ or ‘achieve this dress size’. I’m sick of falling into the trap of letting my body size dictate my self worth. This year, the theme of my resolutions is going to be LOVE.
Resolution #1 – Love myself more.
Along with not beating myself up over my physical imperfections, there are some changes I’ll be making to treat myself more kindly:
- Sleep more. I definitely don’t get enough sleep at night for a variety of reasons, and mainly because I stay up too late doing unnecessary things. So I’m going to try to make sure I get at least 8 hours a night of sleep on a regular basis. And I just need to start resting more in general. I find that I’m constantly pushing myself to do a ton of stuff, especially exercise, and then I end up exhausting or injuring myself from overwork. So I’m going to be giving myself more rest and relaxation time.
- Drink more water. I feel that I’ve been really neglecting how dehydrated I’ve been feeling in general, and have not been very good about drinking water on a regular basis. Part of treating myself better is just generally paying attention to what my body needs from me, and one of those things I’ve definitely not been paying attention to has been my thirst. So I’ll be trying to pay attention to hydrating myself more regularly as a way of taking care of myself. Kind of like sleeping more; both are intended to make me feel better.
- Compliment myself more. I’m the kind of perfectionist that feels that anything good that I’ve accomplished is what is expected of me, and any time I fall short, I beat myself up. So therefore, I’m going to find a way to cultivate a more positive attitude about myself on a regular basis, and focus on the great qualities I have, rather than the imperfections or ‘faults’ that I tend to constantly worry about. It’s not fair to myself to constantly feel like I need to improve myself, or that I’m inadequate in some way. I wouldn’t talk to my best friend the way I talk to myself, so I’m going to work really hard on changing my self talk to be more positive and uplifting, rather than constantly criticizing myself any time I make a mistake or don’t live up to my perfectionist expectations.
Resolution #2 – Love others more.
This is a bit of a strange sounding resolution, but let me explain. I have constantly battled with shyness as I’ve grown up, and while I’ve gotten much better at connecting with people that I meet, I have a really hard time getting close to others, mainly out of fear of getting hurt or rejected for some perceived inadequacy. This leads me to keep a wall up with most people that I meet, which prevents me from making close friends. I’ve realized that one of my pleasures in life is taking care of the people that I love, so that’s why I’d like to start extending myself to other people around me so that I can increase the number of people that I am close to. Basically, I just want to allow myself to open up to others more and not be so damn afraid of getting close to people.
Another part of this resolution is increasing my compassion towards others. I think this specifically comes up when I think about people I disagree with regarding nutrition (or beliefs in general), and I’d like to start being less judgmental of people who disagree with me. It’s one thing to defend one’s belief, but its another to have bad feelings towards a person because they disagree with you about something. So part of my ‘loving others more’ resolution will be to separate my intellectual disagreements from my personal feelings towards others.
Resolution #3 – Love my life more.
This resolution s a bit of a combination of #1 and #2. Not only do I want to start doing more things I enjoy, and spending more time cultivating friendships, but I also want to start appreciating what I DO have in my life that I am so grateful for. As much as I get hung up about my imperfections, I have so many positive attributes that I’m extremely thankful for, and as lonely as I feel at times, I’m so lucky to have a supportive family and a few great friends that I can count on when times get tough.
So this resolution is all about having an ‘attitude of gratitude’ as they say. I am extremely blessed for many different reasons, and I’d like to start focusing on the many things I have to be thankful for, rather than the minute details of my life that I want to change. Additionally, I really want to start exploring the different activities that make me happy. As much as I love reading and writing about nutrition and health, I think it’s time to start broadening my interests. There are certain things, like creating art, reading literature, practicing yoga, and listening to music, that make me super relaxed and happy. I want to start allocating certain time in my day to do these things that are for pure fun and relaxation. I often get caught up in productivity, where I feel that everything I do must have a purpose, and anything that isn’t accomplishing something is a waste of time. But life is meant to be enjoyed, and I think its really important for me to start setting aside some time during the day to just enjoy myself and not worry about whether I’m doing something productive or not.
And that, my friends, is my plan for the New Year. Just a whole lotta’ love.