Tired of starting a new diet in the New Year? Instead, try focusing on one of these 10 non-diet New Year resolutions to help improve your overall health, without dieting.
Hi, loves! I’m so happy to bring you one last, v. important, piece of content before we close out this decade! My awesome intern, Hannah, wrote this blog post to help inspire you to set New Year resolutions that aren’t fixated on starting a new diet or losing X# of pounds. She talks about why dieting resolutions are not sustainable or effective and gives you ten other non-diet resolutions for you to choose from to focus on in 2020. If you’re ready to heal your relationship with food and your body and leave dieting behind in 2020, this post is for you! Wishing each of you a happy New Year and I’ll see you back here in January! Take it away, Hannah!
As the decade comes to a close and we enter a new one, you’re probably (hopefully) reflecting on what went well, what didn’t go so well, and changes you want to make moving forward into the New Year. With all the diet culture noise throughout the holiday season, you may be tempted to start that new diet yet again, lose “X” amount of pounds, or promise to haul yourself to the gym some number of times per week to “get back on track.”
Before you commit to changing your body in the New Year, it’s important to reflect on years past and question whether these resolutions ever came to fruition. If you lost the weight, did you gain it all back? Was restricting your calories or carb intake sustainable in the long-term? Did you feel nourished and content when you forced yourself to move your body in a way that you didn’t enjoy?
Get real with yourself, be honest, and get curious about why you feel the need to engage in these behaviors. It’s important to dig deep and question what we are hoping to gain from these body-focused resolutions: it may be happiness, fulfillment, connection, confidence, or any other number of things, but typically it’s something there is a deeper meaning underneath the weight, fitness, or nutrition goals we set.
And if diets haven’t worked for you in the past know that it’s not you who failed the diets; the diets have failed you. Research has shown that 95% of diets fail and only 5% of those who lose weight “succeed” in keeping it off and 20-25% of serial dieters go on to develop full-fledged eating disorders. It’s been shown that weight loss does not improve health biomarkers including blood pressure, fasting glucose, or triglycerides for most people despite the societally held belief that the key to health is to be thinner. In fact, weight stigma has been proven to be more detrimental to health than being “overweight” or “obese” and in some cases, those classified as “overweight” tend to live longer and have better health outcomes than their thin counterparts.
It’s only natural to feel drawn to these behaviors if they have been familiar in the past, but for some of you, this may be the year you choose to give up dieting and move towards healing your relationship with food and your body. That is no small feat and you should be incredibly proud for taking the leap towards self-acceptance and living a fuller life! Arming yourself with intentions unrelated to your body can be incredibly helpful in creating a non-diet bubble in the New Year and working towards truly improving yourself rather than paying into the diet industry’s ideas that changing your body will change your life. Here are 10 ideas for non-diet resolutions to get you inspired for the New Year!
10 Non-diet New Year Resolutions:
1. Work on setting healthy boundaries.
Learn the language that feels good for you in managing diet talk from family members or friends. This takes time and practice, but you have no obligation to engage in diet talk, especially when working on moving away from it. In these instances, it can be helpful to simply change the subject or leave the table and take a break. You can try a few things out as responses when someone close to you brings up dieting or “good versus bad” foods, such as:
- “I’m actually working on accepting my body as it is. Could we talk about something else?”
- “All foods have value even if they aren’t as nutritional. I’m gonna grab another cookie, want one?”
- “I’d rather connect on something besides shaming my body. How is your family?”
2. Find a joyful way of moving your body (or take an intentional break from organized exercise).
If exercise feels like a necessary evil in your life and you find yourself feeling obligated to get to the gym and guilty when you miss a workout, you may not have a joyful relationship to movement. In some cases, taking intentional time off from planned movement can be very beneficial in healing your relationship to exercise. Perhaps this year you give yourself a contained amount of time to rest and recharge without the “shoulds” of moving your body in an organized way.
Later, you can experiment and try on different forms of movement. It helps to think of things you enjoyed as a child and repurposing them into activities as an adult. If you used to be a dancer, try a swing dancing or Zumba class. If you enjoyed roller blading, perhaps join a roller derby team. If you loved sports and competition, find a league in your town and meet some people while doing so! Think outside of the box and experiment until you find something that fits.
3. Challenge yourself to fear foods and get curious about which foods really satisfy you.
One of the most liberating (and fun) aspects of learning to eat intuitively is allowing yourself space and grace to discover which foods make you feel nourished and satisfied. Perhaps this year you set an intention to eat one new “off-limits” food per week or month until the process becomes more comfortable.
4. Focus on the people in your life who support you and make you feel whole.
When you’re constantly focused on dieting and exercising, close interpersonal relationships can fall by the wayside. Freeing yourself from diet culture allows you the brain space and energy to put towards relationships that truly matter to you. Reach out to old friends, have the conversations that matter, tell your family members how you feel about them. Work to cultivate relationships that feel nourishing and empowering, whatever that may look like for you.
5. Create a self-care tool box and cultivate a sense of security in your non-diet space.
Inevitably, things will come up that feel difficult and uncontrollable; resolve to care for yourself without condition and take stock of what helps you to care for yourself and destress. Sometimes self-care looks mundane such as cleaning your space, washing your hair, cooking a nice dinner, or calling a friend. It can also be more geared towards “Millennial self care” including bubble baths, face masks, journaling, meditating, and adult coloring books. Your needs are constantly shifting and the way in which you care for yourself one day won’t be the same as the next, but having enough tools to have a self-care arsenal can be incredibly helpful.
6. Follow people on social media who empower and inspire you. Unfollow every account that makes you feel less than.
Social media has the power to build communities, uplift people, and start movements, yet so many of us continue to follow people we don’t feel aligned with. Clean up your feed by unfollowing those diety fitness accounts that make you feel less than and reimagine your feed by diversifying it. Follow people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives than your own. Support people of color, Indigenous peoples, those in larger bodies, those who are disabled, queer, trans, and everything in between. It can make a world of difference when you find yourself mindlessly scrolling at the end of the day.
7. Try new hobbies unrelated to diet or exercise: embroidery, dancing, playing an instrument, writing, painting, etc.
There can be a grieving period when you finally turn away from diet culture and perhaps realize that the gym, fitness, and nutrition were never true passions of yours, but shrinking your body was. It can be beneficial to play around and fill that void with new hobbies and activities that have nothing to do with food or exercise. This year, do the thing you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t yet whether that be starting a blog, learning piano, joining a club, volunteering, painting, etc.
8. Limit your screen time and live more present.
We are the most connected we have ever been, yet it’s easy to feel disconnected in our tech-driven world. This year, resolve to be more present for your life and reduce your screen time. Take stock of your screen time and question whether that time could be better spent elsewhere. I’ve found it helpful to put my phone on airplane mode for the first hour that I wake up and an hour before I go to sleep and when I’m out with friends, I try to leave my phone at home.
9. Get more sleep
The power of good quality sleep is greatly underestimated and so many of us don’t get enough of it. Perhaps this year you focus on creating a healthy, consistent sleep schedule and improving your sleep hygiene. This will allow you to show up better in every aspect of life and is worth striving for.
10. Ditch the negative self-talk around your body
Body love is not attainable for so many of us and that’s okay–in the New Year, maybe you seek to make peace with your body. When negative thoughts come up, notice them, thank them, but then choose to dismiss them. It’s important to get curious about the thoughts and beliefs we hold true in order to shift them.
Hannah is a recent graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia with degrees in Health Science and English. She is currently an elementary school guest English teacher in Busan, South Korea. With a passion for Health at Every Size and intuitive eating, Hannah seeks to dismantle diet culture and fatphobia by advocating for body inclusivity and weight-neutral care and continue her work in the dietetics field once she returns to the States!