A different take on New Year’s Resolutions

Written by MUSC Dietetic Intern Rebecca Mathein, Edited by Emily Gargis MS, RD, LD

Every year it seems that the months fly by faster and faster, and 2021 was no exception. The holiday season is often filled with stress, travel, time with family and friends, and interruptions in schedules. It can also be a time where we see more advertisements and targeted adds surrounding weight, body image, physical activity, and new years resolutions. It’s not uncommon for this to cause some fixation and anxiety around food or our body. The idea that “I will get back on track after the new year” is a common phrase said throughout December. Eating your favorite cookies at a holiday party is not a reason to start a diet on January 1st. Instead, listen to your body’s hunger a fullness cues. Eat foods that you enjoy while also incorporating the foods you know make your body feel good. Often there is a mentality that once you start eating “bad” over the holidays we will replace that with eating “good/healthy” again upon the start of the new year. Spoiler Alert: there are no bad foods! And often telling ourselves that foods are “bad” or “off limits” sets ourselves up to feel deprived and wanting more. 

With the new year upon us, the talk of new diets, weight loss goals, and gym membership ads will be on every social media platform. It never fails that every year there is a new workout trend or weight loss plan that generates a lot of buzz. What if this year we focus on building new habits that will enhance our wellbeing rather than trying to decrease a pant size?

It is common practice to set an ambitious New Year’s resolution, and let’s be honest, these resolutions often revolve around weight loss or physical appearance. While it is not necessarily a bad thing to set goals, it can be discouraging if we don’t reach those goals. This is especially true if we place the emphasis on how we look.  

This year perhaps take a different approach and challenge yourself to set a non-diet related New Year’s resolution. Think about an area that you want to improve on that is not related to shrinking or changing your body size, but could still encompass health (mental, physical, emotional, etc.). Some ideas could include:

– Practice neutral and non-judgmental talk around food and body image 

– Get enough sleep and establish a wind down routine 

– Read more books 

– Try a new food every month or learn to cook a new meal 

– Decrease screen time 

– Incorporate daily self care 

– Pick up a new hobby unrelated to diet or exercise, like knitting or painting 

– Practice mindful/gentle movement  like going on more walks or trying a new sport or style of movement that makes your body feel good

– Drink more water 

Whatever encourages you to grow, lean into that! The idea being, that these resolutions are designed to ADD something positive to your life, rather than restrict anything. At the end of the day, health encompasses more than weight and we want to make 2022 the best year yet!