New Year’s Resolutions that Won’t Let You Down


Image: Vin Ganapathy

I understand the appeal of resolutions. I really do. A “brand new you” sounds so refreshing, so purifying, so much more….acceptable than the “old you”. A clean start at the beginning of the year, just like “clean food” has a shiny and hopeful appeal and pleasing aesthetic.

Resolutions are the perfect distraction

Who doesn’t want to be new and improved? It’s the perfect distraction from the mixed bag of emotions that are intensified during the holidays. Family not quite what you wish for? Friends a bit disappointing? Feeling the inevitable let down of a holiday that revolves around materialism? Those feelings can all be easily numbed and ignored when there’s a resolution to fixate on.

It’s the perfect antidote to the January credit card balance being too high. And the inevitable dreariness of the winter weather (forgive me if I’m projecting, but I live in Syracuse). And after this election, anxiety, and uncertainty are running much higher than usual.

Focusing on losing weight, eating less carbs, going to the gym daily, provide a distraction to the painful truth: being an adult these days is not for the thin-skinned.

How effective are resolutions?

If we’ve been paying attention, though, the typical New Year’s resolutions aren’t exactly effective. Just like conventional weight-loss diets, one can only be motivated by grim determination for so long.

We are familiar with the cycle: we fall off of our resolutions (because they are usually a set up for failure), and we blame ourselves for falling short. Then we are faced with the inevitable shame that follows. It’s a well-worn trail. Most of us have been through it many, many times.

So what is the alternative if you still like the idea of setting New Year’s resolutions?

Here are some suggestions for your new New Year’s resolutions:

Instead of asking yourself how to get in better shape, ask yourself how to take loving care of your mind and body.

  • Rather than grabbing your phone before you get out of bed, take five minutes, do some simple abdominal breathing, and frame your day with calmness.
  • Instead of seeing meals as another task to complete, use your meal as a time to unplug, and savor your food. Consider it a micro vacation. Adding a little gratitude makes food taste even better.

As a replacement for being overly concerned about the nutritional value of every food, focus instead on eating in a calm state. Your body can’t metabolize nutrients when it’s stressed.

  • Instead of relating to food only as fuel, see how much pleasure you can get out of your meal. We have taste buds for a reason.
  • Instead of thinking about “getting healthy”, see what makes you happy. Being happy and calm correlate with good health. We all know people who eat a lot of greens and are still unpleasant to be around.

If the holidays have been especially rough, it can be helpful to simply acknowledge that fact. “Boy, that was tougher than I thought it would be!” and go about comforting yourself by asking yourself what you need. Pampering yourself, as if you have the flu, can go a long way in restoring your spirit. And you don’t need a New Year’s resolution to do that.

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