Every year for as long as I can remember I’ve had the same resolution. To lose weight. Regardless of my size – whether I was objectively skinny or objectively overweight, and I’ve been both many times over – come the end of every year, it’s always the same refrain: I should be thinner.
In my mind, I’ve typically projected some tangible goal or goals out into the future, and then proceeded to torment myself by way of the process of trying to achieve it. By x date this year I’m going to weigh x amount, be x size in clothing, be able to fit into my “skinny jeans.” It’s a kind of sickness, this ceaseless dissatisfaction with the reality of my own body, whatever that reality is or has been. It’s degrading and deflating and demoralizing to never be good enough in your own mind.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I think resolutions can be good things, healthy and positive things. I think resolving to put one’s health first is a wonderful promise to make to yourself, which is precisely what I’m resolving to do this year. But there’s a desperately large chasm between being healthy and losing weight for most women, particularly since what many women do in order to actually lose weight ends up being anything but healthy. And I think that chasm is exactly what needs to be bridged for many of us, myself most definitely included.
In years past I’ve concocted elaborate diet and exercise schemes with the intention of rapidly peeling off real or imagined pounds (and of course the sad thing here is that there have been years where if I’d actually succeeded in losing weight I would’ve crossed over into being medically underweight, which goes to show how psychologically potent negative body image is, and just how so often it has very little to do with reality). I set impossible deadlines and goals for myself and my progress. And then, of course, I proceeded to beat myself up for not meeting them.
But this year, I’m doing things differently. No deadlines, no numbers to hit, no clothes size to measure my sense of self worth by. Instead, I’m going to eat better (and by that I mean eating real whole foods, and a mostly plant based diet, with less processed food) and engage in less mindless eating. I’m going to exercise more. I’m going to take care of my body and treat it with respect, because it is the vehicle of my self and the only one I’ve got, and also because I spent a good chunk of this year being physically ill, and I can’t help but feel that years of abusing my body – including abuse by way of endless yo-yo dieting – is at least partially to blame for that. I’m going to be healthier. Period and full-stop. That is the primary objective and goal. If I lose weight, so be it. If I don’t, so be it. So long as I’m well and not sick, I’ll be happy. I’ll be where I want to be.
Maybe if we all believed we were good enough to begin with, we’d be more successful at keeping our resolutions. Maybe if we thought of our efforts at betterment and self-improvement as just that – as positive personal choices made out of a genuine sense of self-love and care, rather than thinking of them as changes necessary to making ourselves worthy in the eyes of others, we’d be more likely to get where we want to go. I don’t know for sure – I’m just spitballin’ here. But I’m resolved to find out.
What are you resolved to do this year?
Read more from Tracey Gaughran-Perez at her personal blog Sweetney.com