Let’s talk about New Year’s Resolutions for a little bit, okay? But first, I want you to grab a piece of scratch paper and draw a line right down the middle of it. At the top of the left column write “Good” and then write “Bad” at the top of the right column. Make a list of emotions, feelings, and mindsets underneath “Good” that you think are positive and healthy. I’m writing:
- expanding one’s self
Now make a quick list under “Bad” of all the emotions, feelings, and mindsets you think are negative and unhealthy, or you can just write out the opposites of the “Good” column. I’ll say:
- limiting one’s self
Okay, so you have your list and now we can talk about New Year’s Resolutions. You can see from the title of this post that I’m talking about what health really means and while there are many things that contribute to one’s health and a healthy lifestyle, I want to focus mainly on diet and exercise. So many of us, every year, put goals related to diet and exercise onto our list of New Year’s Resolutions. That is not wrong in itself, but it can be very problematic.
These things become problematic when the right side of your scratch paper (the “Bad” side) is acting as your motivation. I see so many women hurting in January (and onward) because they feel the pressure of the “Bad” column pushing them along in their New Year’s Resolutions. They pin “What’s Your Excuse?” type of images or super sexualized images of women’s butts onto their “fitness” boards with a list of “quick butt exercises.” (Quick fact about me: When I follow people on Pinterest, I look for fitness boards and unfollow those immediately.) They participate with the hatred when they struggle with their bodies or give into a punishment mindset with self-talk like “I ate a scone for breakfast so now I have to work it off.” They feel pain because they aren’t being gentle with themselves. The diet and/or exercise mentality of “cutting down on” or “disciplining” or “cutting off” or “cutting out” or “correcting” or “beating” etc. are all obviously violent terms. Sadly, these women are detaching themselves from their bodies by feeling like they need to put better food into their bodies and make their bodies lose weight. When your focus on fitness is centered on shame, pain, and detachment then you are seriously limiting yourself. Wouldn’t it be better if you chose the “Good” list as your motivation?[Tweet “”When your fitness focus is centered on shame, pain, and detachment you are limiting yourself.””]
If you are motivated by love then you find it a joy to move and strengthen your body. If you are motivated by a caring mindset then you love taking care of your body by giving it the food it wants and the movement it likes. If you are motivated by sensitivity then you are listening to your body and are seeking out motivational phrases that are sweet, tender, and uplifting in a gentle way. If you are motivated by empowerment then you are looking for every opportunity to discover new things about your body and mind that you can be proud of and strengthen. If you are motivated by joy then you are finding things that make you happy and that feed your soul. If you are intending to expand yourself, then you will become more established, healthy, and whole.
If you wrote down “lose weight” or “exercise more” or “eat healthy” on your list, I want you to examine the feelings attached to these goals. I put my own version of “eat healthy” onto my own list and I examined my intentions too. If you are open to more advice, I would add that you try to be careful of the images you let yourself see. I consider myself a healthy young woman with a good strong head on my shoulders. I would not say that self-image or self-esteem are large struggles for me in my life, but I still limit what I look at. The images of women that make you feel things on the “Bad” list need to go away. Why spend your time pinning/sharing/printing out images that made you feel shamed, bullied, or negative in some way? Why spend your time reading or looking at material that encourages hatred for your body, even if it’s a small hatred?
You don’t have to work out, lose weight, and eat better to have a body you can love. You can start loving your body right now. If you start loving your body now, I believe the rest will follow. You deserve the “Good” side of the list and you can choose that motivation.