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Rethinking resolutions

January is a big marketing month for the weight loss industry!  Most of us have had the experience of  resolving  to lose weight, or work out each and every day, or to never eat another excess fat gram (or protein gram, or carbohydrate gram � depending on the diet fad of the year).  And most of us break our resolutions within a matter of days or weeks, leaving us with a sense of not having discipline, self-control, or �follow-through.�  Those of us who don�t break our resolutions � the �success stories,� resolution-wise � may be achieving that perfection at a very high cost, with overly rigid rules that cost us our peace of mind or take a toll on relationships.  Who cares if you twisted your ankle, or you have a cold coming on, or your cousins are in town for just a day? You said you�d work out every day, so you�re going to prove you can do it!

So if failing to sustain your resolution feels bad, and succeeding  also feels empty, how do you win at the resolution game?

If you must come up with traditional resolutions:

  • Take the �resolution failure� test:  
    If you do not succeed, what will it cost you emotionally?  Resolutions that are too hard to be practical just set you up to imagine that you can�t control yourself, which is depressing. 
  • Take the �resolution success� test:  
    Imagine what succeeding at this is going to take. What sacrifices will you have to make?  In Real Life, remember.  Is this goal really worth the sacrifices?
  • Take the �resolution disrespect� test:  
    Is this resolution insulting to the person who  you are now? For example, resolving to �stop being a selfish lazy blob� is likely to make you feel defensive about being good enough the way you are, thank you very much, rather than motivated to make a change.
  • Interview all the different parts of yourself 
    to find out if you are really behind this, or whether there is only one part of you  (the �Nag�) that  thinks you should do this.   Interview the Rebel, the Caretaker, the Good Girl, the Achiever, the Motorcycle Chick, etc.  Is there anything you can all unite on?

Or you might try something different this year: An �Anti-resolution�!

  • Think about what you did right last year.  
    (For example, you responded generously to a family member in crisis. Or you allowed yourself to do something that felt a little scary but wonderful, like trying a new sport. Or you became just a little kinder to your body.)
  • What can  you do to make it easier to do more of that?  
    How could you build in more time for this into your life, or make it even more pleasurable to do?
  • Focus on the process rather than the result.  
    Watch for the elements that make it easier to be your real self, and nurture them in your life.

Fight back against the weight loss industry this year.  Resolve to honor your body rather than disparage it.  May you have a  full and rich adventure this year!

Read what the women of 1890 made resolutions about.

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Last updated: March 05, 2011.