It’s that time of the year again, a time of the year that bloggers like myself tend to love! Or hate. I think the best of people sometimes have a love-hate relationship with the New Year… and with New Year’s resolutions.
Lately, I believe that rejecting New Year’s resolutions entirely has become the popular thing to do. (As per this New York Times article, for instance.) This might be good advice for some. After all, many traditional New Year’s resolutions are cloaked in negativity: lose weight, stop drinking, eat better… And many people tend to drop their resolutions partway through February.
I, for one, often forget I had one to begin with.
This year is different. Maybe you’re reading this from a far-flung year, and the landslide of 2020 is fading. In the here and now, as I compose this note, it’s bright and fresh in my memory, and these are only the early days of 2021. 2020, as that same New York Times article pointed out, was different. It afforded the opportunity to change old habits, for better or for worse, and to bring about new ways of thinking about oneself and the world. I certainly did a lot of thinking through the cold into the sweltering heat of the first lock-down and beyond. Maybe the idea was percolating in the back of my mind all that time.
Long story short, my New Year’s resolution this year revolves around my fitness. I’ve had an up-and-down relationship with weight and exercise over the years. I was a high school soccer player and once so skinny that my doctor asked if I was anorexic. On the other side of “the pill” and a deep, years-long depression (stories for another day), I had gained enough weight to fall into the obese category at the age of 19. Not to sound dramatic, but my weight is something that’s swung back and forth drastically over the years.
Every now and again I would get on an exercise kick, lose ten pounds at record pace (usually under the influence of hypomania), and then gain them back in the throes of depression. It’s more that than anything else that I’m done with. I’m done with, if you’ll pardon my French, feeling shit about my body. I’m sick and tired of it. And that’s how I’ve felt about my body for a long time, even as I came to accept myself as a person. This isn’t about wanting to look better in pictures or wanting to fit into a dress. This is about wanting to feel healthier and more whole.
So what am I doing to make this time, and this New Year’s resolution, different?
For starters, I started work on this resolution a little over a month before the New Year, so by the time 2021 rolled around, I was already pretty firmly grounded in the habits that are carrying me toward success. (They really are — I’ve lost almost 15 pounds.) I’m approaching weight loss through the old tried and true of exercise and diet, which yields a caloric deficit. Again, that’s a conversation for another day, so let me know if you’re interesting in hearing about my approach.
For your own New Year’s resolutions, I suggest starting in advance of the new year to give yourself a chance to set yourself up for success before the new year actually arrives. Or, if you’re the type of person who can’t wait to get going on a new resolution, pick a date, start in advance, and rework the calendar around your new “new year”! In my opinion, resolutions can fit any season. Christians often make them during Lent, which is just around the corner, but you can choose any date, significant or not. Another note on Lenten resolutions — I’m no longer Christian, but I was most of my life, and I still recognize the unique aspects and the importance of Lenten resolutions, which often revolve around mindfulness. I urge you to look them up, regardless of your faith background!
In your resolutions, I also urge you to break them into smaller resolutions. My first goal was to lose 10 pounds. My second goal is to lose 10 more pounds. After each goal, I’m taking a step back and reassessing where I stand and how I feel about myself. I suggest that you break your resolution into smaller pieces that make sense to you.
Have measurable goals, but don’t worry if they’re not too measurable. I suggest dual goals. For example, one of my goals may be weight loss, but a more overarching goal is the desire to feel healthier. Tied into these are other goals — to run a seven minute mile again someday, to perhaps compete in a 5K, to keep up with the dog… The greater your goals and rationale, the more successful you’ll be. Assess your goals deeply. Make sure they aren’t shallow. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight to fit into a smaller dress, but you may find that you’ll be more successful if you use another metric in addition, such as a mile time or minutes exercised or whatever works with your plan.
Most importantly, remember to be happy and to be grateful to be alive. I recognize that these two sentiments are at the base of all my success in life, however big or however small. At any rate, I hope that some of this has proven helpful for you to read. Let me know how you’re doing on this side of the new year. If you’re looking for more updates on me, check out my WIP update. Here’s to you, and to a more healthy, productive, and happy 2021 — and every year in the future.