Weight-based Resolutions Aren’t the Best

Our team isn’t big on New Year’s resolutions. We think it puts a lot of stress on January. Any time is a great time to change your behavior, and the new year doesn’t work for everyone. However, some people are ardent believers in “new year, new me.” We like to support everyone in their health journey, and we know everyone has a different approach that works for them. If January is a good starting point for you and you thrive under pressure, that’s great!

But there is one New Year’s resolution you really might want to give a miss to: the elusive weight loss resolution. In a survey of people with New Year’s resolutions, 42 percent planned to lose weight.

Pressure to lose weight may be on the forefront of people’s minds this time of year in part because of advertising and special sales from the entire weight loss industry,” said Dr. Kristen Farrell-Turner, a psychologist at Pritikin Longevity Center. “This pressure also may stem in part from the reality that, for many people, the weeks from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day generally involve increased caloric intake, unhealthy food and alcohol. So people might see New Year’s resolutions as a way to undo the damage caused by the past few weeks.”

In one study, only nine percent of people felt like they had successfully kept their resolution by the end of the year. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t set a resolution. But, it might be better to choose one about behavior rather than a number on a scale.    

If you view yourself as a failure, now believe that you can’t make these changes, or hold yourself to unreasonable standards, your self-efficacy, self-esteem, mood and other aspects of mental health and functioning may all suffer,” said Dr. Farrell-Turner.

While there are times you need to lose weight for your health, weight loss, in and of itself, is not the only factor in your health. The numbers on the scale don’t show how much fat vs. muscle you have. Often, when we’re trying to lose weight by dieting, we lose muscle instead of fat. And being healthy has so many components, so focusing on something else for your resolution might be a better way to achieve better health.

If you resolve to get a better sleep schedule, cook more meals from scratch, exercise more or eat a healthier diet, you may be happier. These goals won’t lead you to focus on the bathroom scale but will instead give you activities and actions you can follow and achieve. When you have a rough day and miss your goal, you won’t have a number to focus on but rather just a new objective to work towards. Moreover, all of these resolutions can lead to weight loss.

Focusing not on a specific number of pounds but on healthy actions can make you happier as you set your goals this January. It can also make your aim easier to achieve and maintain as routines are easier to follow than strict diets. And, of course, it’s important to remember, if you break your resolution, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from recommitting to it and continuing on your journey.

Banner image: I Yunmai via Unsplash

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