As the obesity epidemic takes its place as a the biggest health crisis of our generation, it’s no wonder that weight loss goals top the charts for our New Year’s Resolutions. The sad fact is that the majority will fail in their efforts to lose weight. Just weight gain is almost never down to a singular cause, weight loss has to account fro a wide range of nutritional, social and biological issues to be successful. In fact, the focus on weight and body shape to the exclusion of other more complex factors can lead to failure, in my opinion. Too often, people become fixated on the number on the scale and this clouds the wider issues that have a role to play in maintaining an unhealthy body weight.
With this in mind, I suggest 4 non weight loss resolutions. These don’t focus on getting to a certain size by a certain date. They don’t demand that you sacrifice pleasures or workout to specific level. These are healthy changes that will make you happier, and that’s reason enough to consider them as changes you might want to aim towards this year. However, the natural consequence of making these a reality in your life is that they are incompatible with the behaviours that lock people into weight gain.
- Stop wasting time worrying about what other people think or feel about you – Other people’s opinions are their own business. This doesn’t mean that you don’t care about how people feel, but that your choices cannot always be driven by what other’s might think. To stop devoting energy to these worries allows you space to think more clearly about what is good for you. It also frees you from the anger, resentment and anxiety that can often fuel unhealthy food behaviours and ultimately lead to weight gain.
- Pay attention to needs, over and above simple ‘wants’ – So often what we need feels impossible or confusing that we reach for what we want; usually a predictable way to feel better, even if that creates other problems in the longer term. Take time to listen to yourself and give a voice to your emotional needs. They might not always be met perfectly, but acknowledging them leads to healthier habits.
- Be kind – To yourself. Appreciate that your journey has not always been an easy one and that even though you might want to change, there are good reasons you made even the bad choices that you made. Shaming yourself will only lead to further attempts to numb your pain or hide from the issues that you need to face.
- Practice acceptance – Acceptance doesn’t mean approval. It simply means that you take the current experience – good or bad – for what it is, rather than demand it be something it simply isn’t. To not accept lead to resentment, anger, helplessness and fear. But even when the situation is painful, acceptance will be a tool to allow you to evaluate possibilities and change what you can.
At first glance, these might seem totally unrelated to health and body weight. Granted, they don’t offer an obvious structure for diet or exercise. But, likewise, they allow flexibility to approach the problem in the way best suited to you, by first encouraging a healthy, self-caring attitude. Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year.