Rethinking New Year’s Resolutions
As we say farewell to 2020 and welcome 2021, the New Year marks the beginning of a fresh start. For many of us, that means it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions! But did you know that less than 25% of people stick to their resolutions past the first month, and only 8% actually accomplish their goals long-term? What accounts for this significant drop? It turns out as well-intentioned as New Year’s resolutions may be, they often end up being too restrictive, unattainable, and incompatible with our daily lives. From restrictive fad diets to grueling exercise regimens, the sad reality is that we tend to abandon our resolutions early into the year. Sound familiar? Trust me, we’ve all been there (no judgment). This vicious cycle of start and stop is what’s known as Dieter’s Dilemma.
So what is the Dieter’s Dilemma?
Diets are restrictive in nature and unsustainable long-term -- we naturally crave what we can’t have. The Dieter’s Dilemma represents the trap we fall into when we begin a new diet as part of our New Year’s resolution:
Desire to Be Thin + Start Diet: Our desire to lose weight puts us on a restrictive diet.
Restrictive + Deprived Feelings: The restrictive nature of the diet leads us to feel deprived and unsatiated.
Loss of Control + Overeating: After days, weeks, or months of dieting, we finally submit to our natural cravings.
Guilt + Weight Gain: Overwhelming food deprivation leads to overeating, weight gain, feelings of guilt, and inadequacy.
Paradoxically, dieting results in binge eating and weight gain rather than actual weight loss. The vast majority of individuals tend to regain two-thirds of their weight loss within one year. To break this cycle, we must re-examine our priorities as it relates to New Year’s resolutions. Moving into 2021, let’s choose goals that are simple, realistic, and grounded in kindness. After all, we should not punish ourselves or feel guilt-ridden for listening to our bodies.
For ideas on how to get started, take a look at the following list of examples of New Year’s resolutions that are accessible and sustainable all year round:
Add more whole foods to your diet like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Start small by consuming one serving size per day of your favorite real food of choice and work your way up (i.e., One cup of cooked broccoli).
Increase the number of home-cooked meals. A study comprising 11,396 adults concluded that individuals who cooked five or more home-cooked meals a week were 28% less likely to be overweight than those who ate less than three home-cooked meals per week. Start simply by cooking one meal at home per day, then increasing the frequency until most of your meals and snacks are home-made.
Commit to regular trips to the grocery store. Having a supply of nutritious ingredients in your fridge and pantry is crucial to cooking healthy and wholesome meals. This year make grocery shopping a priority by dedicating one or two days per week to shop at your local stores or farmers market. It may even be helpful to bring a grocery list with you to ensure healthy purchases.
Reduce the purchase of convenience food items. With the fast pace of modern life and the plethora of prepackaged/premade food products, we often fall into the trap of consuming quick ready-to-eat meals that can be detrimental to our health. It is important to remember that fast food consumption is associated with poor diet quality, obesity, and an increased risk of conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Get movin’! New Year’s resolutions are often synonymous with a desire to get fit and lose weight. While most of us begin strong, our commitment can wane over time. To remain committed to your fitness and exercise goals, pick activities that bring joy and movement into your life. It can be anything from a 30-min walk with a family pet, a yoga class, bike ride, hike, or stopping by your local gym on the way home. It can be anything! Consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator or purposely parking the car further away from the entrance. Pick attainable and straightforward fitness goals to create sustainable change. In the words of Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Let’s face it 2020 has been a tough year - one filled with unprecedented challenges, stressors, and uncertainty. As we gently step into 2021, let’s remember to create New Year’s resolutions that are kind, supportive, and set you up for a lifetime of health and vibrance. Happy New Year!
I hope you’re staying safe and well during this time. As always, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about the post. I offer a six-month nutrition coaching program to help individuals achieve their nutritional goals. If you’re interested in learning more go to my link below.
Let’s create a great year for 2021 together!
Kubala, Jillian. “23 Healthy New Year's Resolutions You Can Actually Keep.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 23 Dec. 2019, www.healthline.com/nutrition/realistic-new-years-resolutions.
Neumark-Sztainer, Dianne, et al. “Why Does Dieting Predict Weight Gain in Adolescents? Findings from Project EAT-II: A 5-Year Longitudinal Study.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Elsevier, 24 Feb. 2007, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002822306026800.
Prossack, Ashira. “This Year, Don't Set New Year's Resolutions.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 1 Jan. 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/ashiraprossack1/2018/12/31/goals-not-resolutions/.