It’s resolution time again; the time of year where we re-assess ourselves, find ourselves wanting in some way, and resolve to be better people. Not that it ever works.1
For many of us, those New Year resolutions will involve our weight. Every year, I see friends of mine make these resolutions. They start out being very stern with themselves. They post daily weight loss and gain statistics to keep themselves “accountable.” There is excitement about the first few pounds lost. Then distress as weight starts to creep back up or the habit fails to take. Finally, the diet talk stops.
One more failed resolution.
Doctor Michelle May calls this the “Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle.” First we misbehave, then we get all angry at ourselves for misbehaving and resolve to do better, and then eventually we misbehave again.
This cycle is both physically and psychologically destructive. Physically, it encourages starvation / binging behavior which carries its own health risks.
Psychologically, it reinforces a very negative view of yourself. It encourages you to treat yourself as a recalcitrant child, and when you are unable to force yourself (you most likely will be)2, then it reinforces the idea that you make awful decisions and lack willpower.
Calling yourself a stupid or weak might feel like you are taking responsibility for your own failings. And maybe it is. But does it do you any good? If you keep making and failing the same resolutions, probably not.
It’s time to try something different.
Jessy has a great template for this:
… I took chances, the more I fought back against the things I was afraid of, and the more that I learned to trust my instincts and to let go of the insecurities and small worries, the stronger I became.
Instead of telling yourself you are weak and need to be constantly watched, shamed, and punished, recognize you are stronger than you think you are.
So this year, skip the weight-loss resolutions. They have a ritual start-date, which is meaningless, and a way you can “fail” them, which is stupid. There should be no time limit achieving anything. Instead, consider Jessy’s approach.
If you need something specifically weight-related, consider an alternative to self-loathing. There’s no point beating yourself up over your weight. If you have to keep beating yourself up, then it’s not working and you really need to find another way.