The voice of diet culture is especially loud in January. During this time, gym memberships drop in price, and the promise of “New Year, New You” headlines our social feeds. We’re led to believe that if we hit a pre-conceived goal (most often related to body weight) then our lives will instantly improve.
As a result, the temptations for quick-fix resolutions surround us. There’s no doubt that these resolutions are motivating. Whether it’s to improve your extensions or to achieve your “best body,” the New Year is an enticing time to ignite change. There’s a caveat, though…
When it comes to the most common (and unrealistic) goals of diet culture, big resolutions don’t offer sustainable gratification. In regards to weight change, some may find quick results in the first and second weeks of their newfound habits. However, researchers are confident in the fact that despite this quick reassurance, extreme dieting doesn’t work long term. Life inevitably gets in the way and the absence of long-term results causes an overwhelming unease as you doubt your ability to ever reach that initial resolution.
Intentions, on the other hand, encompass habit-building steps that work into your day-to-day life. If your resolution is to “eat healthier” and your goal is to eat more veggies, then your intentions may include eating at least one veggie per day when it’s practical and feasible (remember: this might not be your story every day and this is okay!). Perhaps your resolution is to enjoy food without guilt. Then your intentions involve the actionable steps to break each of your food rules.
New Year’s Resolutions are super tempting. But we need to build sustainable resolutions that involve attainable and realistic goals. Here are my top 3 tips to start the year with actionable intentions to get there.
#1: Swap Resolutions With Realistic Rituals
Creating a list of resolutions is easy. The hard part is acknowledging the path towards those resolutions. When we focus solely on the end result, we turn to quick fixes, which often sacrifice the journey. Point blank: Small changes are easier and more practical to implement in our on-the-go and over-booked lives! Create realistic habits that easily blend with your current routine. If you struggle to wake up before 7:00 AM, then don’t make a goal to meal prep at 6:00 AM! Instead, set aside time in your schedule when meal prep can be attainable, such as on a weekend.
#2: Focus on The Journey, Not The Outcome
Resolutions assume that change needs to happen. I don’t love this mindset. Why? Because it suggests that we, in our current lives, are not good enough. Use this time to self-reflect. Applaud yourself for where you are today. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for the next step. If you’re looking to make changes, then work towards realistic rituals instead. As discussed above, the journey is your goal.
#3: Be Realistic
A habit-based approach works to build small mindful behaviors that eventually build to long-term changes. These enable you to tune into your intuitive feelings of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction. Realize that no one food will ever make or break your health. Our food choices make up a larger part of our day/week/year. Use each meal or snack as an opportunity to honor your personal preferences while feeling confident that your choice will play a role in your personal health, whether that is your physical health or your mental health. Here are a few realistic habits to consider:
- Add more plant-based foods like fresh produce, nuts, seeds, and legumes to your meals.
- Pack balanced snacks to avoid “hanger” on your busiest days.
- If you often rely on eating out, then pick a few meals throughout the week to prep & cook.
- Get diligent with water. Invest in a reusable 1-liter water bottle and refill it at least twice daily!
- Start building a better body image.