Body-related New Years resolutions that don’t have to do with weight loss

Happy 2018! I’m pumped for this year and hope you are too.

As you well know, when the new year rolls around, talk of weight loss and “getting healthier” (which, in our fatphobic society, often refers to weight loss) skyrockets. For us body positive rebels, it can be hard to tune out all of that overt (and covert) weight loss New Years resolution talk and keep our focus on responding to our bodies’ own unique needs.

To complicate things, it’s also totally okay and great to have a New Years resolution that involves our physical body, while rejecting fatphobia and embracing body acceptance. What’s the secret behind having a body-related New Years resolution without getting enmeshed in diet culture?

Do not make weight loss/changing your body shape/getting thinner the goal you want to achieve.

Here are some sample New Years resolutions that involve your physical body WITHOUT making weight loss the goal:

  • Drink more water to increase hydration, improve skin, calm anxiety
  • Jog a few days a week to improve lung capacity, sweat, release stress, prepare for a race
  • Lift weights to improve strength, make it easier to lift things in daily life, increase bone density
  • Add more vegetables to your diet (ex. carrot sticks and dip as part of your lunch) to give your body more vitamins/minerals, try new foods
  • Increase the frequency of your workouts to boost confidence, release stress, strengthen muscles, sweat, etc.
  • Replace your daily coffee with a smoothie once or twice a week to increase your fruit/veggie intake, increase hydration, increase energy.
  • Stretch in the morning to wake up body and mind, increase flexibility, improve circulation, reduce aches and pains.

None of these resolutions make weight loss an outcome. Weight loss can be a byproduct of these goals, that is, if you start increasing your workouts, for example, you may or may not lose weight. But your goal for increasing your workouts is not to lose weight; your goal is to feel more confident, increase your well-being, increase your cardiovascular capacity, release stress, etc.

If you make weight loss your goal, you will get sucked quickly into diet mentality, thus feeling disconnected from your body, experiencing chaos around food, and perhaps gaining some weight…because studies have shown that’s often what weight-loss goals lead to.

If you want to create a body-related New Years resolution for yourself, I am 100% behind you (and I’ve created them for myself too!). Just don’t make weight loss your goal, and you’ll be feelin and lookin amazing!

Don’t Future Trip On Your Bod

I’m pretty sure you know what I mean when I talk about future tripping on your body. I did this all. the. time. in high school and college. Actually, I still catch myself doing it sometimes.

Future tripping on your body refers to thinking or worrying about what our body will look like at some point in the future, i.e. over the summer, for a wedding, the next time you have sex, by the time you start dating, etc. We worry about how thin we’ll be, what we’ll need to do food- and workout-wise to get there, and how others will view our bodies.

We get excited about our future “thinner” body and put a lot of pressure on ourselves to achieve that goal…which inevitably leads to dieting…which inevitably leads to food and body chaos, including binge eating, intense food and body scrutiny, feelings of hopelessness and self-loathing–you know, all that fun stuff. And then, by the time we get to that event in the future, we often feel big, gross, and uncomfortable in our body (and we may have even gained a bit of weight because that’s one effect of dieting).

So what’s the remedy to feeling and looking our best for a future event without future tripping on our body?

Respond to our bodies needs in the present moment.

Whenever you catch yourself thinking about how your body will look at a certain time in the future, STOP YOURSELF. Come back to the present and tune into what your body needs right now. Water? Sleep? Movement? Food? Laughter? Give your body whatever it needs moment-by-moment.

This will get you much farther towards the way you want to look and feel at that future time than focusing your efforts on being thin will.

Tips to having zero holiday food stress

Here are my best tips to having a holiday season with zero food stress!

1. Let yourself eat whatever you want. When you allow yourself to eat whatever you want, the desire to binge eat or go on a food rampage goes away.

2. Breathe. The breath floods your brain with oxygen, helping you to calm down, get out of your head, and hear your body’s innate wisdom–so that you can choose the foods and portion sizes that make you feel best, enjoy what you eat, and be present with your loved ones.

3. Shut down diet talk. Made this vid for you.

4. Ask yourself, What would make me feel really good right now? This will help you practice listening to yourself and what will make your body feel great instead of letting the diet industry decide for you–so that food and body craziness become a thing of the past!

If you want to REALLY heal your relationship with food and your body, while still taking care of your mental and physical health, grab my Body Confidence Workshop!

Quick And Dirty Body Confidence Tips

Here are my absolute favorite and most effective tips, mantras, and pieces of guidance that I use every day to keep my relationship with my food and my body peaceful.

1. 95% of diets fail, and 2/3 of those people actually gain MORE weight. Whenever I have a desire to eat differently or work out differently (in an attempt to lose weight), this fact stops me dead in my tracks. From Christy Harrison.

2. Misogynists created diet culture and the thin ideal to keep women small physically, emotionally, professionally, and financially–the best way to resist patriarchy, increase our sense of peace, and get back to kicking ass in life is to accept our bodies the way they are and take care of our bodies in ways that feel good.

3. Focus more on your dreams and goals than on your body. Try to go about your day without hooking into that negative body image voice that’s always in your head. Make a To Do list of all of the personal and/or work things you need to do each day and then just do them. Getting stuff done makes you feel confident and peaceful–and you can sustain that feeling way longer than you can by pursuing weight loss.

4. Say these mantras to yourself, any time you need them throughout the day: I love my food; my food loves meI love my body; my body loves meI am not a body; I am free. All from the lovely Gabrielle Bernstein.

5. STOP talking about how much you hate your body/wish it looked different. When you’re talking with friends and you feel tempted to say something disparaging about your body, take a deep breath in and out. Stay silent. Negative body comments immerse you even further into body chaos, make you look insecure, and affect the energy of the people you’re with. Try to avoid talking about your body at all. I’m still working on this.

Trying To Get Thinner Makes Your Life Worse

I’ve been talking a lot about how despite all of the work I’ve done around my relationship with food and my body, I still have times when I wish I was thinner. I don’t like that I have that desire, and I’ve accepted it, though I’m not acting on it.

On one particularly rough body image day recently, I went on Facebook at night and looked at all of my pictures–from high school all the way to today. And I wasn’t doing this to reminisce–I looked at my pictures to see how my body has changed over the years. With every click, I scrutinized my body, compared it to how my body looks today, and even said to myself, “Ug if only I was that thin now.”

I stayed up until 1am doing cyberstalking myself and scrutinizing my body in every picture. And since I was up so late, I didn’t wake up on time for work the next morning. For the rest of the day, I felt tired and unmotivated, which overrode my plans to work out and smash my work goals–all because I wanted to be thin.

If I had just felt my feelings that night and spent some quality, present time with myself, instead of stalking myself on Facebook and going deeper into body image chaos, I most likely would have gone to bed at a decent time, woken up more refreshed, and had the energy to work out and perform at a high level at work.

Do you see how a desire to be thin, which we’re told will make our lives better, actually leads us to take actions that make our lives worse? 

A desire to be thin depletes us of the time, money, and energy that we could be using to make other areas in our lives more fulfilling, like our relationships, work performance, sense of peace and contentment, etc. A desire to be thin leads us to make less healthful decisions, like sacrificing sleep (and then work and exercise the next day) to scrutinize our body.

Check yourself right now. What actions has your desire to be thin led you to? Have they lead you to an increased sense of well-being and happiness, or have they led you to anxiety and dissatisfaction?

One way we can fight sexual assault

Dude. This Harvey Weinstein stuff is filling me with SO. MUCH. RAGE. I’m constantly looking up stories about brave women who have come forward and the trauma they endured (and are still experiencing), the sometimes terrible and sometimes life-affirming reactions they’ve received from others, and the men who have stepped up as our allies (go Jordan Peele!).

If you’re filled with rage like me, that’s totally good, normal, and right. Men pushing themselves on women, threatening that if they don’t comply, their careers will be in jeopardy, and viewing women as simply here on the planet for their pleasure is straight up WRONG and BAD. So yeah, we have every right to be f*cking angry. But we’re taught (ahem, WOMEN are taught) that being angry isn’t ladylike, it’s unnatural, and can even incite rage in men…because of course, it’s natural and expected for men to be angry, not women. OMFG.

Okay. If you feel enraged, sad, hopeless (and about a billion other emotions) about sexual assault in the public arena (Hollywood, the government, etc.), here’s one productive thing you can do to fight the misogynistic, shaming culture that surrounds sexual assault:

You can accept your body as it is, take care of it, and stop pursuing weight loss.

This simple (but not easy) action takes a stance against the patriarchal structures (Hollywood, government, medical industry, fashion industry, and so many other things) that tell the world that women should be small and held to an impossible social ideal of thinness. When we accept our bodies the way they are, when we stop the physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially exhausting fight to lose weight, we have time, money, and energy to focus on other areas of our life…like our relationships, career, spirituality, and nourishing our bodies in ways that make us feel great. We say NO to the systems and institutions that want to keep women small, tamed, and controllable.

Also, when we accept our bodies, we take more ownership of them. We begin to view them as worthy of respect–from ourselves and others, not objects for men to use how they please. And when we begin to adopt that mindset, we might feel more comfortable calling out unacceptable behavior from anyone who violates our bodies, or the body of someone else. This is not to say that women who don’t view their bodies as worthy deserve to be assaulted or should be shamed for not speaking out. I’m suggesting that accepting our bodies as they are now can help us have more ownership of our bodies, which helps us realize that only we get to choose who we share physical space with, which of course doesn’t really stop a sexual assaulter from violating someone’s body, but I think having that sense of control of our bodies is important for women.

If you’re feeling hopeless about the way women’s bodies are treated, just try accepting your own. Refuse to buy into the patriarchy’s lie that losing weight will make your life better. Take ownership of your body by listening to what it actually wants instead of letting the diet industry decide for you.

Aaaand if you still need convincing to give up the weight loss fight, here’s a quote from the amazing podcast host and health coach Christy Harrison:

The easiest way to gain weight is to attempt to lose weight. 

Mic drop.

How to experience food and body freedom

Exercise is a beautiful, useful, and necessary thing. We all need to move our bodies to be healthy (I’m using “healthy” in the holistic sense, as in, all of the physiological, biological, psychological, environmental, and spiritual factors that make up a person’s health).

Unfortunately, the diet industry has expertly warped our relationship with exercise. We’ve been brainwashed to view exercise almost exclusively as a weight loss tool, as a tool for dieting. We’re promised firmer butts, tighter abs, toned arms, zero cellulite, and better lives overall–if we just follow (and pay for) the right books, videos, classes, memberships, and more.

But here’s the thing. When we buy into the diet industry’s promise, when we work out with the goal of getting visible, external “results,” our lives, internal beliefs, self-talk, and ultimately our health (including our weight), can get chaotic…especially for those of us in eating disorder recovery/with a history of disordered eating/body image issues.

For example, a few months ago, I got sucked into the world of a really famous trainer. I found some of her free videos online, bought one of her DVDs, and even started reading “success” (ahem, weight loss) stories online. I told myself that I would just do her workouts and continue my practice of intuitive eating. Ha!

Following this trainer made me want to achieve a similar body to hers, i.e. super toned arms, flat stomach, toned legs, etc. And because I started working out with that goal, I ended up shifting into diet mentality around my food, as well. Just a few days after I started doing her videos, I began choosing food options with lighter calories or “healthier” foods–not because I wanted to feel good or because my body actually craved them, but because I wanted to be thinner. And because I began restricting my food in that way, my confidence level and sense of peace and connection to my body weakened. My hunger cues were a little off, my thoughts about my body were extra critical and full of scrutiny, and I would get self conscious about my body in social settings. If I didn’t catch myself in this spiral, I would’ve entered the world of yo-yo dieting…which actually causes weight gain in the long run.

This all happened in a matter of like two weeks, and I had to work hard (and still work) to reconnect to my body and the types of food and exercise that work best for me and make me feel great.

I encourage you to get real with yourself. Are you working out with a goal to lose weight or change your body, even if it’s an indirect goal?

What if you worked out to improve your mood, strengthen your muscles (and if you get visible results, great! but that’s just a side effect), increase flexibility, feel more confident and fit, connect to your intuition, or increase your stamina and energy? These goals will help you experience peace with food and your body–so that you stop obsessing about everything you put in your mouth, you feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin, and your weight actually stabilizes.

Get real with yourself. If you want food and body freedom, take weight loss out of the equation when you’re working out.

My past behind me like a ponytail (and other mantras that get me through the hard times)

The subject line of this post is from my absolute favorite Drake song. I love this line because it reminds me to take life a little less seriously and to stop beating myself up for choices I made in the past–so that I can focus on my goals in the present. Also it makes me want to whip my ponytail around in a sassy way. Oh Drake, you get me.

Aside from the above Drake lyric, I use lots of mantras and sayings to help me move through moments of discomfort.

Mantras help stop our thoughts in their tracks–so that we create new neural pathways in our brain that help us create more peace and happiness in our lives. Essentially, the negative thoughts we have on repeat in our brains are like bad habits, and mantras help us break them. Here are some of my favorite mantras. Use these and feel better!

  • The person next to me isn’t attainable; only my best possible self is attainable. (my yoga teacher said that once)
  • I accept the things I cannot change. (from the Serenity Prayer)
  • I love myself more than obsessing about this past/future situation/person.
  • What if we decided to never wonder about what could have happened? We’re missing what’s happening when we do. (from Grace Smith)
  • I can see peace instead of this (from Gabrielle Bernstein)
  • I am safe.

These mantras/sayings give me so much comfort throughout the day.

Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing

We’ve talked about FOMO here before. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’m one of those people who tend to measure the worth of what they’re doing based on what their friends/family/people on social media are doing.

Decisions tend to be tortuous for me because I’m always wondering what other people have decided so that I can make up my mind. Even simple things, like deciding how to spend a weeknight, can turn into a mental back-and-forth of what my friends/acquaintances are doing and how what I’m doing measures up. For example, if I choose to take a long walk in the evening, I might wonder if I should be taking a kickboxing class, going out for drinks, working on my business, joining a club sports team, going on a date, or putting in extra time at work instead. I tend to assume that everyone else’s choices are better than mine.

I often find myself thinking: Why is it so easy for my friends to just be cool with and focused on what they’re doing, and I’m always wondering whether I’m keeping up, fitting in, and not getting left behind? Why can’t I just do my own thing and be cool with that?

Sometimes I wonder if I’m living for my friends/family/social media acquaintances…or me.

Can you relate to this? Do you constantly question your choices, or make choices based on what other people are doing? It’s exhausting! And I’ve discovered that making decisions based on other people leads to the following things:

  • Living in the past (harboring resentment, keeping old, uncomfortable situations alive when they should’ve been dead years ago) while everyone else is moving forward, accomplishing goals, having new experiences
  • Disconnecting from your true self, desires, and beliefs, leading to confusion and doubt about what goals you should really focus on
  • Feeling disappointed when your friends seemingly forget about you to live their own lives. (they haven’t forgotten about you–they just don’t factor you in to the significant degree that you factor them in…because they’re doing what they want!)
  • Constant worry and anxiety, no lasting peace and ease.

Whew, that’s a pretty tiring way to live. And the hard truth is…in our quest to keep up, live the best life ever, and make decisions based on what our friends are doing, we actually end up living a rather empty, boring life that keeps us small. We don’t take risks or go for our dreams because we’re too busy worrying about other people’s goals and dreams, and making sure that we’re not getting left behind.

What’s the answer to living a full, exciting life that’s true to ourselves?

You must reconnect to you.

I’m still working on this, but expect more tips on how to stop worrying about what other people are doing, and start focusing on you.

How to figure out what you want

As you know, decision making is hard for me. I go back and forth about all of my options, future trip, and exhaust myself almost every time I have to make a choice of some kind. It’s not fun, and I’m working on it.

Today, I was listening to  the Lady Lovin’ podcast while taking a walk around my neighborhood and got a wake up call on how important it is to answer this question that impacts our decision making greatly:

What do you want?

The topic of this particular podcast episode was money, and the amazing Nicole Lapin emphasized how important it is for people to figure out what they want so that they can plan their finances accordingly. For example, if you want to have kids down the road, own that you want that, and factor it into your spending/savings plan (depending on your age) so that you have the money that getting pregnant/raising kids require. In fact, Nicole said that studies have shown that women who plan a narrative for their lives, i.e. a general, loose plan of their goals and when they want to achieve them, are more successful in accomplishing those goals.

Aside from increasing your success in accomplishing goals, answering What do you want? is pretty much the first thing you have to figure out when you begin any type of plan or program to improve any part of your life. For example, if you hate your job and want to find a new one, you have to figure out what you want, i.e. what type of environment you want to work in, the kinds of projects you want to do, your desired location, etc. If you don’t know what you want, you’ll either apply to a bunch of random jobs that may not work for you or you’ll stay in your current job because you don’t know how to move forward.

Full disclosure. I HATE thinking about What I want because I never know what I want…so I usually avoid answering that question in many areas of my life, specifically in dating, money, and career. But refusing to grapple with that question hasn’t really been moving me forward–it’s just kept me in the same place, with vague goals and hopes for my future, and little motivation to take action.

To help myself get clear on how I want to move forward in certain areas of my life, I’ve decided (yay, a decision!) to take conscious actions toward figuring out what I want. And I want you to join me.

Here’s a plan to help us figure out what we want:

  • Journal once a day for 10 mins. Let’s write What do I want? at the top of the page and let our pens move freely–no edits or judgement. Let’s just begin facing this question and seeing what’s inside of ourselves.
  • Acknowledge the areas of our lives where we make quick decisions with conviction. Food, body, and health are areas where I feel super comfortable and confident making decisions. It’s important to celebrate the areas of our lives that just flow and move forward–it gives us motivation and hope that we can experience the same flow in other areas of our lives, too.
  • Make a decision and see how it feels. If I can’t tell what my body wants to eat for lunch one day, I don’t stress about it. I just eat foods that I typically like and trust that my body will absorb the nutrients it needs, and give me a clearer answer about what it wants for dinner. I think we can do this in other areas of our lives, too. For example, maybe we’re not sure whether to go on a dating app, and we go back and forth about it forever. Let’s try making a decision to either yes, sign up or no, don’t sign up, and see how it feels for a few days. If we want to change our minds, we can. But actually making decisions gives us information we can use to make more decisions in the future, which eventually makes decision making easier.

I still hate the What do you want? question, but I’m seeing how crucial answering it is to moving forward in life. Let’s do this together, okay?