We've all had 'em -- those resolutions that show up again and again, year after year, and continually implore us to beat up on ourselves for failing to stick to another extreme diet, workout plan, or “lifestyle”. You may have heard this quote from one of my personal heroes before: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". A college professor of mine echoed that once by saying “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got”. It’s tricky when it comes to dieting, because it’s not always obvious. The Diet Monster hides in plain site by masking itself as demonized food groups, unattainable activity challenges, and body ideals -- no matter their shape.
This year, I’m here to remind you -- you haven’t failed these diets. These diets have failed you. If you don’t believe me, see me explanation for why I won’t sell weight loss for the cold hard facts.
This year, see what it might feel like to ditch the diet mentality, and set a resolution to do something that nourishes you instead. This doesn’t mean that these things might not result in better health, and they might even be food or activity related. But they might not. And that’s ok. If you're having trouble coming up with how to take better care of yourself in 2017 without dieting, that's ok too. We've been pretty hard-wired to attach much of our worth to our weight, what size we wear, or what's on our plates. So, I have some suggestions. Below are 10 New Years Resolutions that have nothing to do with food, exercise, or weight.
Trust me -- I know it can be scary to start the process of letting go of the control we think we have over our bodies. But this may be one small step toward total body love and acceptance. In my own experience with clients, when weight loss is the primary focus, no accomplishment ever feels like enough. So maybe try something different this year. You’re not committing to anything, really. You'd just be trying out a small shift in perspective. For most, past years’ resolutions leave us upset with ourselves and nowhere closer to our goal. So just for this year, try something new. I promise you can go back next year, or you can back out any time you please.
And I wouldn't be a true #NerdyGirl if I didn't give you just a lil' bit of evidence-based info to help you succeed at whichever resolution you decide to pursue this year. The most important thing when it comes to starting any new habit is to start at a slow, sustainable rate. In the biz' we call this setting SMART goals.
The SMART Goal system has been shown to be a highly effective way of achieving personal goals. To elaborate on what these goals might look like, let's use an example of someone who might want to feel more energized and less tired in 2017.
Specific: Avoid setting very general goals (i.e. I want to have more energy), and instead think about what specific actions you can take to get there (i.e. I want to get more sleep, so would like to get to bed earlier each night).
Measurable: Decide what the ideal amount of sleep would be for you to feel well-rested, and energized. For most, this will be somewhere in the range of 7-9 hours per night. This will help inform what time you should plan to get to bed. If you wake up at 7am, and you do best with 9 hours of sleep, you would aim to be in bed no later than 10pm.
Achievable: To check off this one, you'll have to ask yourself where you're at today with this goal. If you're currently going to bed at 2am, it might not be reasonable to jump straight into bed by 9:45 come January 1. It's often helpful to start a little closer to where you're at now. So, for the first week of trying this new goal, maybe you aim to get to bed 1 hour earlier, so by 1am. As you begin to get comfortable with this, you can push it back another hour, and continue this until you meet your goal. This may feel like a slow process -- and it is! Change takes time, and feeling successful is crucial in maintaining new habits.
Relevant: Does getting to bed by a certain time lead to more sleep, and then impact your energy? Totally!
Time-Bound: When would you like to achieve your goal by? Maybe you want to be getting those precious 9 hours by the start of February. This would mean you have about 1 month to get from a 2am bedtime to 10pm lights-out. Schedule yourself to push your bedtime back 1 hour each week until you meet your goal. Sometimes in forming new habits, it can be helpful to set reminders on your phone.
And that's it! You're officially a goal-setting expert. Have a wonderful start to 2017, lovely people. And remember to take care of yourselves in all ways this year.
Seriously -- XO,
Sam the Dietitian
This site is all about spreading the truth about the food the fuels us through interpreting evidence-based research. But sometimes there's stuff Samantha wants to talk about in a more relaxed way. All the information on this page will still be based in science, and will never subscribe to fad diets or unattainable extremes. Check back frequently!