Depending on your personality and life commitments, the turning of the year may be a time for deep peace and reflection or a wild whirl of parties and celebrations. But as New Year’s Day approaches, many of us are becoming more aware of the day’s ever-present accompaniment:
New Year’s resolutions are by their very nature intended to improve us. (After all, you don’t hear many people saying “My New Year’s resolution is to keep being my awesome self. Yup.”) Resolutions can be used to uplift us, to challenge us, and to set and achieve goals. But unfortunately, they can also be used to beat ourselves and each other up, to fill us with shame, and — by unscrupulous people and companies — to manipulate us into buying more stuff to try to fill that achievement gap.
The classic New Year’s resolution is, of course, weight loss, in the form of gym memberships and new (or repeated) diets. But we know that intentional weight loss– whether you call it a diet, a lifestyle change, keto, clean eating, yoga for weight loss, Whole30, or anything else — doesn’t work in the long term.
So if weight loss doesn’t work in the long term, what are we supposed to replace it with? What about our friends and family who are all excited to get back to the gym or start on that lifestyle change that’s really going to work this time? How are we supposed to navigate all this while still being able to participate in the fun of New Year’s resolutions in a body-positive way?
From ditching diets to replacing unachievable goals, here’s your complete guide to a positive new year and to setting resolutions that are healthy both mentally and physically.
Quick Support: Body Positive New Year’s Quotes
“Instead of focusing on what you feel you need to fix or something you hate about yourself, how about making a resolution to do something that helps you love yourself? Maybe something fun, like go dance once a week or take a drawing class or learn to knit or play the piano or learn to code so you can make your own badass app. Something — anything — that helps you realize that focusing on what makes you feel joy is way more fulfilling than resolving to torture and starve your body because you hate it.” » Lindsey Averill
“New Year’s resolutions are bullshit. Why not choose goals that are not only more attainable, but also more beneficial? Commit to being honest and kind to everyone — including yourself — every day, not just the first few weeks of January. Promise yourself more belly laughs [next year]. More pleasure. More love. Your weight is not your worth.” » Substantia Jones
“If you want to make a resolution, resolve to find peace with your body exactly as it is.” » Pia Schiavo-Campo
“Remember this: You’re absolutely perfect and valuable just the way you are (yes, I’m serious) and making goals from a place of knowing your self-worth is a surefire way to ensure next year is a year to remember and love.” » Jes Baker
“This year, instead of focusing on being less, let’s focus on being more. Resolve to have more gratitude for everything your body does for you.
Take up more space in the world. Speak up more about things that are important to you. Do more joyful movement. Eat more delicious food that nourishes you.
This year, instead of trying for to create a ‘new you,’ resolve to take the old you out for a spin. I think you’ll find that she’s pretty spectacular.” » Ragen Chastain
Shame-Free Resolutions Workbook (free). “This workbook will hopefully help you to start the new year off right, with goals that feel authentic and positive to you. It’s time to tap into your ‘why’ and then make plans for positive changes for your mind, body, and soul.” Get the workbook from Body Positive Yoga »
Rewriting Your Body Image Story. What if you could change your life without changing your body this New Year? Experts Jennifer Rollin and Colleen Reichmann have created a training to help you find freedom from body image issues. Learn more about this course at The Eating Disorder Center »
10 Reasons Not to Focus on Weight in the New Year. “Every year, as January approaches, the siren song of the dieting and cosmetic fitness industries are at their loudest. People working to heal their relationship with food and body can feel tempted by all of these hope-filled commercials that say, “it can be different this time.” Few of us are immune. So we thought we’d share 10 reasons NOT to focus on your weight this year.” Read more from Be Nourished »
New Year’s Revolutions. “A major step in my own body positive journey was relinquishing the control that New Year’s Resolutions had over me. They were often filled with shame – promising to make changes to “better myself,” specifically my body, in some way that felt forced upon me by society instead of some way I personally wanted to grow.” Read more from Amy Pence-Brown »
Feeling Sad About the Holidays Being Over? This Might Help. “If you feel disappointed and sad and deflated because the holidays are over, know you’re not alone, and know it’s perfectly OK. Grieve the (almost) end of the holiday season. Journal about it. Talk about it. Feel it. And try the below tips, too.” Read more from Margarita Tartakovsky »
Reassess Your Values in the New Year to Make Peace with Food. ” Finding different approaches to health, that are in line with your values, can help you get off the vicious cycle of diets that fail, and on to the path of recovery from chronic dieting and/or disordered eating.” Read more from Erica Leon »
New Year, Same You: Anti-Resolution Edition: My Only Weight to Lose is Body Shame. “Before fat activism came along I was a committed partaker in the yearly Weight Loss Resolution ritual that would take place among my family and friendship circles. January would roll around and we would all wave away the dessert menus, lay out our gym gear every night before bed, and hang our ‘motivational’ size smaller-than-we-are-now dresses on our doors, so they would be one of the first things we saw when we woke up. We were committed and motivated. That year was going to be the year where we finally reached our goal weights.” Read more from Gillian Brown »
Banning soda, sugary cereal or ice cream for your kids may not be the best strategy. “As a new year begins, I hear many of the typical restrictive resolutions: I will give up gluten, cut sugar, never drink again. Does restriction actually work? The answer is no.” Read more from the Washington Post »
“It’s scary to opt out of the typical dieting = enoughness narrative we’ve been force fed our entire lives.
Your peace is worth trying something different. Your peace is worth smashing the the old narrative and creating your own. One that reconnects you to your body, to yourself, to meaning that extends far beyond how your body shows up to the world.” Read more from Sarah Herstich »
Food Psych #179: How to Avoid Falling for the Wellness Diet This Year. How to keep from falling prey to diet culture, the problem with Whole30 and other forms of The Wellness Diet, why true well-being is about so much more than food and movement, a quick way to tell if your “lifestyle change” is really a diet, why eating-disorder diagnoses are often problematic, and so much more. Listen at Food Psych »
The Diet Industry- Your Drunk, Booty Calling Ex. The New Year is approaching and here’s the Diet Industry drunk and crying, calling, texting, e-mailing, sliding into your DMs, trying to convince you that it has changed (Now it’s going by its initials instead of its name! It’s a whole new person!) and it can give you everything you ever wanted if you just come back baby, please, just one more chance. Read more from Ragen Chastain »
“For the longest time, “lose weight” topped my list of resolutions year after year after year. I was always starting a diet on January 1. New year, new diet was my motto.” Read more from Amber Karnes »
“I will disagree with food and body-shamers this year.” Read more from Isabel Foxen Duke »
New Year, Nude You: Celebrating Plus-Size Bodies. “But what about those of us who are content in our bodies, or want to be happy and content simply as who we are? This week, we embrace “New Year, NUDE You” and celebrate bigger bodies and their resilience and beauty.” Read more from Ravishly »
New Year, Old Goals: Your New Year’s Diet Resolution Will Fail. “But what if your inability to stick to a diet has nothing to do with your level of self-control? What if advertising media has simply been selling you this idea since birth for capitalist gain? What if your perceived failure is exactly what keeps the diet and fitness industries alive?” Read more from Bitch Magazine »
Next Year, Let Go Of The People Who Aren’t Ready To Love You. “It is the hardest thing you will ever have to do, and it will also be the most important: stop giving your love to those who aren’t ready to love you.” Read more from Brianna West »
Dealing With Diet Season. “It’s New Years – part of the Diet Industry Axis of Evil (which also includes “bikini season” and “the holidays are coming.”) That means that you can’t open your eyes without being assaulted by diet industry propaganda, and your Facebook feed will be chock full of people (who you likely thought knew better) starting (yet another) diet. Ugh.” Read more from Dances with Fat »
Whatever this year transition might mean to you, may you offer yourself kindness.
May you remember the ways in which you’ve grown.
May you honor the passing of time.
May you thank yourself for being your own home.
May you hold space for all you’ve carried yourself through.
May you let go of societal expectations and live proudly.
May you recognize how far you’ve already come.
May you be your own compass.
May you keep showing up, even when it’s hard.
May you hold space for all the places you have yet to go,
and may you hold trust that you will get there. Read more from Lisa Olivera »
You Are Already Enough: 7 Ways to Relieve the Stress of the New Year. “We expect so much of ourselves, like our limitations can be shed from one day to the next, or like we are so self-destructive and just need to make better decisions. It sends this message that we are never good enough. That we are always in need of a drastic, radical, miraculous transformation to advance away from what we are and be better.” Read more from The Body is Not an Apology »
You don’t need to feel guilty for what you ate this week. If you want to detox: ?drink water, ?eat food, ?let your organs do the rest. Read more from Heather Mae »
Non-Diet New Year’s Resolutions. “Here are some ideas to kick of the New Year by ditching dieting and creating a revolution in your own life, and ideas for resolutions that will take the revolution to the streets.” Read more from Ragen Chastain »
How to never fall for diet-y “New Year’s Resolutions“ again and become more YOU. “One promise: After listening to this, you will be perfectly equipped to step into the New Year with an awake mind, a well-oiled internal bullshit-detector, and a protective shield against the onslaught of body negative messages around you.” Listen to more from Life, Unrestricted »
What 8 body positive activists want you to know about losing weight in the new year. “While the pressure to shrink your body is a constant for women year-round, the value of thinness is especially emphasized when New Year’s resolutions are thrown into the mix. It’s a time of year when hating yourself is made easy, packaged and sold by the diet industry as flaws in need of fixing. Many of us buy into it — but we don’t have to.” Read more from Mashable »
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It can be difficult when diet talk ramps up at the beginning of a new year when people start announcing body related New Years resolutions. While you certainly do not need to make a New Years resolutions (you can make a change in your life any day of the year), there are tons of non-weight related goals that you can set if you want to.
What you really mean when you write ‘lose weight’ on your New Years Resolutions list. “Sometimes we need to take concepts loaded with history and layers of social meaning and unpack them before we use them – or if we even use them at all! ‘Lose weight’ is one of those concepts along with ‘get in shape’, ‘get healthy’, ‘get fit’, and they’re usually all mixed in with one another. New Years Resolutions are filled with all kinds of vague and loaded health-related aims that almost seem like they ‘should just be’ on the list without question.”
February And Your Resolutions Are Already History? What To Do Now. “The big problem with the resolutions flame out is how often it discourages people from trying to make positive life changes, and that’s a shame. Instead of heading down a resolutions shame spiral that lasts until next year, let’s regroup and do this in a way that makes sense.” Read more from Ravishly »
What Works for You?
Have your own sanity-saving resolution-setting tips to share? Are there links I should add to this list? Drop your wisdom in the comments, bright stars.