December 27, 2021
We're getting closer and closer to the new year, which means that ads promoting weight loss, cleanses, diet programs, and exercise are starting to increase exponentially. Every year companies encourage people to feel guilt and shame for eating their traditional holiday foods in order to capitalize on people’s need to "work it off" and "be more disciplined" in January. Did you know that for the most part, the average amount of weight gained over the holidays is negligible? Yet every January you have people vowing to slim down and get “back on track” in the new year.
If you're planning on making New Year's Resolutions this year, don't make these four mistakes.
If improved health is your focus for 2022, did you know that you can improve your health regardless of whether your weight goes up, down, or stays the same? We have very little long-term control over our body shape and size. Sure you may lose weight for a short period of time, but the majority of people regain whatever weight they lose within 5 years.
In addition to this, if you don't see any changes to your body size, you may give up and forgo actual positive behaviours like eating more fruits and vegetables, increasing your fibre intake, drinking more water, and moving more. In reality, those are the behaviours that are within your control and those are the behaviours that will actually improve your health, not the weight loss.
Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean we can flip a magic switch and add a few hours to our day that we didn’t have before. We have the same 24 hours in 2022 that we did in 2021, so if we want to add things to our day, such as more movement, meal planning, etc. we have to make sure we’re not stretching ourselves too thin.
There are a few things we have to do every day, such as eating, sleeping, working, childcare (if you have kids), etc. Before you commit to adding things to your schedule, audit your current day. What tasks do you have to do and how much time do they take? Can you realistically add more to your current day or will you be sacrificing something? It’s one thing to sacrifice an hour or two of TV time throughout the week, but it’s an entirely different issue if you find yourself sacrificing sleep or nourishment. Don’t try to do too much, as you’re likely to burn out quickly. You’re much better off focusing on consistency and engaging in health-promoting behaviours that don’t require as much of a time commitment. Once you are finding consistent time for these, you can then reassess to see if you can do more, or if you want to.
How many times have you gone on a diet that requires you to cut foods from your diet? Whether it’s sugar, dairy, carbohydrates, sweets, etc. restricting your food intake in any way often results in intense cravings for those particular food items and an increased preoccupation with food. This means that instead of thinking about things that are fun or will improve your life, all you can think about is food - what you can eat, when you can eat, what you’re going to make next - and so much of your day and whether that day was a success or not is wrapped up in food. I love food as much as any other person, but it should never have that much control over your life and your brainspace.
This year, instead of cutting a bunch of foods from your diet and focusing on what you can’t eat, let’s focus on adding foods to what you currently eat. You can eat more fruits and vegetables without having to cut other foods from your diet. You can choose more fibre-rich foods without cutting foods from your diet. You can drink more water without cutting foods from your diet. Increasing the variety of your diet often increases your satisfaction with the foods you eat. Plus, when you focus on adding foods without restricting other foods, then you’re less likely to fixate on foods you can’t eat and you’re also less likely to engage in binge-like behaviour and “fall off the wagon”..
So many of my clients come to me with not only a poor relationship with food, but also a poor relationship with exercise. So many people engage in activities and exercise in order to punish their bodies or pay penance for the food they ate rather than engaging in movement and activities that they actually like. Just in case no one has ever told you, your body does not need to be punished for eating. Your body also does not need to be punished for changing.
This year, instead of exercising for the sole purpose of making yourself smaller or to punish yourself for the foods you ate, why not choose activities that actually enhance your life. Moving your body is supposed to be fun and we engage in movement because it has benefits for your physical health as well as your mental health regardless of whether you lose weight or not. What movement makes you feel good? What movement makes you want to move more? Look back at the movement you’ve done in the past. Was there a type of movement that you really enjoyed? Maybe you like to walk, dance, swim or stretch. How can you incorporate those movements back into your routine? If you’ve only ever hated exercise, maybe you need to be doing something radically different than what you were doing before. Take some time to experiment and find what feels good.
If you decide to set a New Year’s Resolution this year, don’t let yourself make the mistakes above. This year, ditch the diet, and focus on things you can actually control:
Rather than trying to make big changes all at once, you're better off to start with something small and build on it throughout the year. If your ultimate goal is for 2022 to be your healthiest year yet, focusing on changing behaviours NOT your body. Remember, your weight does not dictate your health or your worth. Don't let anyone tell you differently.
Need some help setting goals and improving your health without a side of diet culture? Book your FREE 15-minute discovery call to find out whether I'm a good fit to help you improve your health and your relationship with food.
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