The New Year means New Years Resolutions. Everyone’s chanting, “New Year, New You!” You’ve likely read posts online about making this year “Your Best Year Yet!” Or maybe you’ve read a recent magazine article showing you “How to Stick to your New Year’s Resolutions“. You may have written them in a journal, or posted them on Facebook, or maybe just made a mental list.
One Question: How are you doing so far?
I recently pulled up a list of 2014’s most popular new year’s resolutions. It should come as no surprise that the number ONE resolution was to Lose Weight. If the past is any indication of the future, I would guess that 2015’s most popular resolutions follow the same line.
There’s one more statistic that seems to give an important insight into this yearly collective obsession. The percent of people who find success in achieving their resolutions? EIGHT percent.
Not very impressive odds in my opinion. No wonder we feel it necessary renew these promises year in and year out. When exactly did we assume the belief that by shifting from December 31st to January 1st we will be magically imbued with the ability to transform into the elusive “New You”.
And why do we engage in this practice even though it seems fairly obvious that it’s not very effective? I mean, that 92% failure rate is pretty depressing. And the practice itself strikes me as remarkably self-defeating given the evidence. Especially when you consider that even the most motivated and self-disciplined people are statistically unlikely to achieve their resolution goals.
I should make you aware that I’m one of those people. If I feel passionate about something (like rearranging my bedroom furniture, doing a 30 day yoga challenge, or being my own boss) I do it. Full force. If it’s important to me, it’s getting done. So you would think, that I would be a prime candidate for the 8%, right?
For most of my life, my characteristically strong sense of motivation and discipline has been squandered on a completely useless and self-obsessed idea (and it appears, from those New Year’s statistics, that I’m not the only one focused on this idea).
The idea that I should weigh less.
That thought has, without a doubt, permeated my thoughts and dominated my behavior for as long as I can remember. And although I tend to be a pretty results-driven person, to my frustration this goal of “weighing less” has consistently eluded me.
I want to share my story with you, not to cultivate a sense of sympathy, celebrate my failures, or air my dirty laundry in the public eye of the internet, but to shine a light on an (apparently) commonly felt shame among so many women and men. My goal is to authentically share my experience and make room for others to walk away from a prison of unrealistic expectations, self-loathing, and the wasted energy that results from years of private emotional, physical, and mental struggle.
Let me explain.
I kind of chuckle to myself when people say they want to get back to their “original weight”. First of all… what the heck does that mean? Your weight in high school? college? birth weight?
Why is this funny? Well, I weigh the same now as I did 14 years ago. Yep. Almost the exact same depending on the day, time, what I had for breakfast, etc. How do I know this? I was recently organizing (told you…) some important documents and I came across my medical records from my pediatrician. In a nutshell, “Nikki’s Weight History” looks something like this:
13 years old. 1999 140 lb. 5′ 6″ – puberty strikes
15 years old. 2001 164 lb. 5′ 7″
18 years old. 2003 164 lb. 5′ 8″ – my current height
19 years old. 2004 160 lb.
20 years old. 2005 155 lb.*
21 years old. 2006 170 lb.**
23 years old. 2008 160 lb. ***
24 years old. 2009 160 lb.
25 years old. 2010 150 lb. ****
26 years old. 2011 160 lb. +/-
28 years old. 2013 160 lb. +/-
29 years old. Now. 160 lb. +/-
*The beginning of my diet/fitness “awareness”. Engaging in low-fat/high-carb/elliptical machine/treadmill behaviors.
** Post 6-month overseas trip where we ate mainly rice and peanut butter AND I brought home a nice intestinal parasite.
*** After going mostly gluten-free (was completely gluten-free by 2009)
**** After going paleo.
Sure, there are a few fluctuations in there (as there are with most people). Going up and down by 10 or so pounds is not a huge weight gain or loss in the broad scheme of things. Especially when you’re tracking over years. As you can see, getting back to my “original weight” is not a very helpful motivator for me. It’s what I weigh ALL THE TIME.
So what’s the point? Well, as long as I’ve been a young woman, I have always wanted to change my weight. Not get back to something I already had… but have something completely different from reality. Just think about that. I NEVER wanted what I had. Only a consistent nagging feeling of being unsatisfied and ashamed of my body as well as a constant belief that it needs to change. That is incredibly sad. Especially given how remarkably consistent my weight has been over the past 15 years.
That’s not to say that my body hasn’t changed over the past 14 years. 160 lbs. as a teenager looked a little, ummm… chubby? And while I am at that same weight today, I’ve also been eating clean for over five years and I’m active daily with interval training, yoga, and long walks and hikes. It shows. I’m not chubby. I’m solid. And that’s not a cute new way to describe my “softer look”. I look and feel athletic. I may not be thin but I’m also not weak or soft or unhealthy. I have a healthy-sized butt (ok. that might be a cute way of saying I’m the white girl version of J-Lo). I have strong lats and shoulders. I have quadzilla thighs. I have a lean core. My body has been shaped by years of nutritional discipline and consistent physical conditioning.
And yet, every year. I set a goal of being my DREEEEAM WEIGHTTTT (cue fanciful music) of 140 lbs. WHY?! Why would I set a goal, to be at a weight that my body has never seen since before puberty? It’s complete madness. Not to mention, if I know that I have been able to make my body look different while maintaining the same exact weight, why don’t I throw away the scale goals and focus squarely on looking good and feeling good?
I can tell you, a lot of this is wrapped up in some very deep-seeded issues, food neurosis, family history, and all the typical media complaints that most body-positive folk strive to eradicate daily.
I can also tell you, that my journey out of this mindset has not been easy, nor fast. It’s taken a few years of some really difficult work (on and off the “couch”) including, but not limited to setting boundaries, crying, journaling, sharing, accepting, admitting, and surrendering.
This year, my resolutions take on a different tone than years past. I’ll always be concerned about optimizing my health but the difference is now I’m free now to acknowledge that I am, in fact, already healthy. I’ll always want to work hard for my body to look good and fit into cute clothes, but I’m grounded and grateful enough now to acknowledge that these things are already true if I let them be (that’s the hard part, right?). Any potential weight loss/inches lost/sizes lost will be the result of continued consistent healthy eating, moving, AND (what was previously absent) THINKING. This sort of thinking is available to everyone if you are willing to believe it and work towards it.
I have no weight goal this year, only one objective… to be fearless. I want 2015 to be characterized by FEARLESSNESS!
There is no “New You”, just a learning, improving, more authentic you.
Below is a list of what I hope to grow into this year and in the years ahead. More like a mission statement. A vision for life. A declaration of purpose.
1. Continuing to pursue a more consistent meditation practice by taking time in the morning to quiet my mind and dwell upon gratitude and possibility for each day.
2. Committing to decreased screen time overall (iPhone, iPad, iPhone) in exchange for very purposeful work hours in which to be engaged and active online.
3. Being present with people and in different places by avoiding the trap of phone escapism or distraction. (especially went with friends and family AND in the car!)
4. Learning how to be more constantly moderate and balanced in my approach to food, body, and exercise.
5. Reading. Books. More.
6. Sharing myself authentically with others through time and service.
7. Dedicating more energy towards helping people live and eat well through The Clean Plate.
Again, I hope that this story helps usher you into a place of freedom and balance. To let go of the expectations and judgements you hold towards yourself. If you want to know more about my story, stay tuned for the rest of the series. If you want to visit some of my favorite inspirations for a healthy outlook on the new year, click below.
Neghar Fonooni New Year, Same Me
Sarah Jenks Crafting a Meaningful 2015
Molly Galbraith’s thoughts on Facebook