Let me begin this post by saying that the title is in no way meant to be discouraging. I am all for making resolutions to better yourself, whether it be to lose weight (the number one most common resolution), eat better, read more, stress less…. All of these are great things!
I just have a small problem with the phrasing of all these great resolutions. ‘New Year, New You.’ It’s a catchy sentiment for sure, but what is it really saying? I understand the new year as a time for rebirth and renewal, a time to really sit down and re-prioritize things that may have fallen through the cracks the previous year. But an entirely new self at the stroke of midnight? Sorry, but it just ain’t so!!
How about ‘New Year, Better You?’ I can get behind this one. It doesn’t suggest a complete overhaul of your person, and emphasizes that whatever your resolution is, it’s meant to better yourself. In my opinion, that’s exactly what a resolution should be; a small change you change to make yourself better. Emphasis on better. Not completely different. The problem I have with New Year’s Resolutions is that they’re basically set up to fail! In no other time of the year would you suddenly decide to lose weight, eat better, sleep more, stress less, etc., all in one day. That’s actually insane. Again, I don’t mean to be discouraging but you simply can’t expect to make these huge, overhaul-type changes to your daily life, and expect it to stick. Any sane person would say, ‘It’s great that you want to lose weight. Why don’t you start by cutting down to just one fast-food meal every other week? That’ll get you working on eating more at home, then focus on recipes that are good for you, incorporating lots of fruits and veggies. Once you have your energy up from eating better, you can work on bumping up your weekly runs to working out 3 days a week.’ Doesn’t this make way more sense?!?! You simply can’t go from eating McDonald’s for lunch every single day to eating quinoa and salmon for every meal, and running every single day. It’s too strict a regimen for you to be comfortable with, and this is ultimately why New Year’s resolutions (and diets) fail.
If you can’t tell, I have a huge problem with diets, cleanses, 30 day challenges, and the like. It’s not reality, these diets. No week-long cleanse is going to take into account your busy schedule, your normal eating habits, how many calories your specific body actually needs, etc. Plus, who in their right minds actually thinks that drinking nothing but kale and carrot juice for 3 days straight is healthy? Will it make you lose weight? Sure, if you deprive yourself of actual food and just drink smoothies for a few days, you’ll shed a few pounds of water weight. But don’t worry, these few pounds will undoubtedly appear again after the cleanse is over, as your body is basically in starvation mode and will cling to every fat cell it can find. Treating yourself to a burger (which you’ve so desperately craved because you restricted yourself in the first place) after your cleanse will literally erase any weight loss you achieved. Don’t do cleanses, friends. They don’t work, its fake weight loss, and its just plain not healthy. Extreme diets are no different! Eating 28 days worth of kale salads (in combinations with some sort of workout routine) will make you lose weight, sure. But if you crave chocolate every single day of the diet, you’re all the more likely to ‘cheat’ on your diet. Which actually isn’t a problem, unless you’re just gorging yourself every time you do so. The problem lies in the shame that you feel for going off your diet.
So what do we do instead? Say it with me friends, moderation. Learn it, live it, love it. I see absolutely no point in restricting yourself from your favorite foods because they’re ‘unhealthy.’ I love sweets. Like, looooove sweets. But I don’t eat a candy bar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, because I know that I would feel absolutely terrible! If you really love a good, greasy burger (as I definitely do!), depriving yourself is just going to make you crave it more, believe me. Just don’t eat a burger more than a few times a week and you’re golden! I’m so happy Jacob agrees with my sentiments about dieting, and we’ve been able to find a great foundation for us to eat better.
Yes friends, my New Year’s resolution is in fact to eat better. But I didn’t give up the gummy bears cold turkey. Jake and I have been eating better slowly but surely, and it’s much easier than I thought (probably because there’s no pressure- we’re taking it slow!) We started by cutting down (not out!) on fast foods, and making healthier choices when we ate out. Then we cut down on eating out, except for once, mayyybe twice a week. Usually we end up going out for dinner on Friday night as a nice end of the week treat, then lunch Saturday. We’ve done our research on healthy recipes we can make for dinner and lunch, so we don’t get bored with the same sandwiches and salads every day. I’m a snacker, so making sure that the house was stocked with healthy snacks was huge for me. We always make sure to buy plenty of fruits to snack on, and avoid the dreaded Hostess and Little Debbie ‘snack’ cakes- we’ll treat them like a dessert after dinner at home instead. We don’t deprive or restrict ourselves. In fact, just last night Jake and I went out for late night ice cream, and it was delicious. We both noticed that the more we eat healthy, the easier it is. This is for two reasons- 1) The healthy foods we’re making are not huge kale salads full of sadness with no flavor. Nope, we’re eating foods that are actually filling, tasty, and things that we LIKE! 2) The more we avoid ‘unhealthy’ foods, the easier it is to see their effects on our bodies when we do eat unhealthily. By this I mean that we used to be able to chow down on some Double Dave’s pizza buffet, but lately we’re both full after about 3 slices, and the grease super affects our stomachs now. Also, since we cut down on sodas, neither of us can take more than a few sips without getting actually full from the bubbles. Also, have you every noticed how syrupy real Coke actually is? Goodness! After weeks of drinking nothing but water, I swear I could feel my teeth deteriorating with all the chemicals in that drink. So, water and tea it is :)
The point I’m trying to make here friends is that you don’t have to completely overhaul in order to see progress. Life is too short to shame yourself if you don’t lose 5 pounds in the time that you wanted to. Losing weight in order to be healthier is a great things to do, but not at the expense of making yourself miserable with cleanses and strict diets. What matters more is moderation, and making healthy choices. Switch out an apple for a bag of chips, low-fat yogurt for chocolate pudding, or salad instead of the soup. Small changes over time are easier to maintain, and just as satisfying over time. So this year, get ready for the New Year, and a Better You. A better, happier, healthier version of yourself, not a completely different person. Here’s to a better you!