Lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, eat healthier … these are the usual resolution suspects on January 1. While those can be fine and appropriate goals, depending on your current lifestyle, some of them can also be harmful.
“Resolutions about fitting into your skinny jeans set you up for failure because you’re telling yourself that there is only one way to look,” says Dani Tsukerman, founder of Very Personal Training. This all-or-nothing thinking can drive you to obsession, or make you feel like there’s no point and give up because nobody could achieve those goals.
A better idea: Make some realistic, specific goals about your approach to body image.
“The point of resolutions is to take stock of what’s working, what’s not, and what you want to be different this year,” explains body image coach Jessi Kneeland. “Negative body image is one of things that is definitely not working for most women and that they wish was different. Instead of falling prey to the idea that in order to improve your body image, you have to improve your body, why not go directly to the source — how you feel about your body?”
These resolutions will help you work toward feeling better about yourself and focusing less on a “perfect” body. Remember: “A resolution is only the beginning. It’s more like a mini-goal to help you get started on a lifelong path of being kind to yourself and not judging yourself,” Tsukerman says.
1. Cleanse your social media feeds
Juice cleanses don’t work. But removing “toxic” people from your social media does. “Unfollow as many people as you can,” says Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of Body Kindness. “This way if someone shows up in your feed, it’s because they’re one of your people. They lift you up, inspire you and are relatable. They are contributing to your better life.”
2. Eat foods you love
If you are a cheeseburger person, embrace it in moderation. “Own it, and rather than labeling it as a flaw, focus on the way those foods bring you pleasure,” Scritchfield says. Maybe you love cheeseburgers from a particular diner where you frequently vacation, so when you’re there, have them and enjoy. When you do this, you’ll get more pleasure from your favorite foods when you choose to have them and be less likely to binge. It’s not all kale all the time.
3. Do things that bring you joy
While it’s good to care about being healthy, oftentimes the message comes across as, “You need to work on yourself.” That makes it a chore and can cause you to squeeze out time for hobbies, a social life and other fun. “Reframe what a good life looks like. Take your health seriously, but don’t devote all your free time to it,” Scritchfield says. She suggests thinking of three things you’d love to do just for fun. Then get them on your calendar, on the regular!
4. Embrace the fact that you are human
Change doesn’t happen quickly and none of us are perfect. Since beating yourself up gets you nowhere, be patient and kind with yourself. “Real change comes slowly after being consistent with trying and failing and trying and failing,” Tsukerman says. “Embrace the failure by telling yourself it’s OK and it’s great, because it’s how you learn and you get stronger for the next time.”