American’s top New Year’s resolutions are:
- Eat better
- Exercise more
- Spend less money
I track the top resolutions every year, and the truth is, they don’t change much. These are the top three nationally year to year, even though they may swap positions. Same resolutions, same problems and same disappointments when the goals are not met. Most people, (maybe even you?), get amped up during the holidays to dig in to their new diet, new budget, and new exercise routine, only to fail a few weeks or months into the year.
Why? Just the fact that you think about resolutions and setting positive goals for yourself means you are most likely a responsible human being with a certain stick-to-itiveness. You’ve stuck with other goals, right? You graduated from school, held down a job, are raising those kids, AND you knit that entire sweater, didn’t you? (OK, maybe you didn’t finish the sweater, but the kids are fed and that’s more important).
So how come you can’t stick to a diet? Or get on the elliptical three times a week? Or only eat out once a month instead of four times?
It’s not because you’re a failure – rather, you have SET YOURSELF UP for failure by choosing goals that are based in punishment and deprivation. And that’s our culture’s message, isn’t it? Most of the ads we are exposed to drive home the same belief – we are not good enough, not achieving enough, not perfect enough, and we need to get SERIOUS with ourselves and make some major changes in order to have a satisfying life.
What if all of that malarkey isn’t true? Just think about it for a minute. I bet you’re pretty awesome and have many fantastic achievements under your belt. Why always this drive to achieve more? It puts us on a treadmill that never gets us to that coveted and impossible destination – perfection.
And what if you’re having a hard time in life? What if you have made mistakes (most of us have!)? What if you are at a low point, and you feel and know your life needs to change? Is setting up a bunch of stressful goals based in deprivation going to help you get out of that painful place? When I’ve been at low points in my life, forcing myself to go the weight room or spend less money on shoes was not the answer – it was being more kind to myself and reaching out for support from people who truly love and care for me. The same goes for you!
So it goes without saying that I believe your primary New Year’s resolution should be recognizing your strengths and being kinder to yourself. Apart from that, if you still want to achieve the top three resolutions listed above, here are some unlikely tips that may seem strange, but they will help you reach these goals a lot more easily! Why? Because they are based on adding more joy to your life, not subtracting it.
Stop dieting today! Diets DON’T work, period! If you stop dieting and start eating intuitively (according to hunger), you will achieve and maintain your natural weight easily, and for some that will mean losing weight. 95% of people who lose weight on diets ultimately regain the weight, and yo-yo dieting over a lifetime puts you in physical danger. In fact, it can set the stage for you to develop dangerous eating problems such as anorexia, bulimia, emotional eating or compulsive exercising.
In order to exercise more, do exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise. Never exercise with weight loss or calorie burning as a goal and I mean Never with a capital N. Change your exercise outlook, and start practicing joyful movement. If you stop exercising for weight loss or for burning calories, or for getting ripped, you’ll start to think about exercising for fun and feeling good in your body. Then you’re going to exercise more, and you’re going to be fit for life. Be playful about exercise and try new activities, preferably with a group. For example, if you hate the elliptical, step off of it and on to volleyball court if you love team sports.
- In order to spend less, don’t go on a money diet. Just like food, totally depriving yourself of spending on anything you deem “nonessential” will backfire and cause binge spending. Instead, always pay yourself first, even if it’s only a few dollars, and also put aside some “fun money” that you can spend on anything you want guilt free. You are more likely to consistently save and avoid overspending with this approach.
Of course, if you need help to change your mind set in these three areas, you can always get coaching to help you along. You can call me for an appointment or set up a free 15 minute consult at The Body Image Counseling Center for help in achieving New Year’s resolutions without pain!