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Finding Gratitude Amongst the New Year’s Resolutions

Featured on Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/586d43d5e4b014e7c72ee58d?timestamp=1486271054919

 

I’m laying on the couch at 11:42 pm on a Tuesday night, wrapped in a Slanket (the gloriously soft and pocket-filled QVC version of a Snuggie), with Starship Troopers playing on the TV. I haven’t paid much attention to the movie, aside from a brief glance in which I noticed an appearance by a young Neil Patrick Harris. I have no interest in this movie – I was watching Star Wars, and this just happened to follow. Despite my lack of interest, I can’t find the will to untangle myself from fetal position, reach for the remote, and change the channel.

Lying here, wrapped in my Slanket, I know that I am hiding from myself. I am hiding from myself because I feel inadequate. I feel inadequate because I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions that involve my dietary habits. I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions that involve my dietary habits because I finally see past the bullshit of the social media posts, commercials, and magazine adds.

 

After studying nutrition for four years, I know the facets of a balanced diet, and I know that not all dietary interventions work for all people. A nutritious, balanced diet is not difficult – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, unsaturated fats – but all of the nutrition misinformation in the media confuses this. Even more frustrating, all of this misinformation also confuses me; I find myself second-guessing all of the sound, science-based information I’ve learned. I am operating from a place of lack – lack of confidence in what I know, lack of gratitude for my health, lack of self-compassion.

 

So, to help remind myself that most of this New Year’s resolution marketing is bullshit, here’s the boiled down truth: most of the commercials, social media posts, and blogs promoting diets or eating challenges claim to sell a meal plan, supplements, macronutrient ranges, or magical cleansing teas. They claim that this plan will bring weight loss and health. They imply their plan works for everyone. What they don’t market is that all plans don’t work for all people – sustainable lifestyle changes look different for everyone due to genetic, lifestyle, psychological, and hormonal differences. They don’t show the hard work and grit that goes into producing sustainable results. Just look at the research: 95% of people who lose weight on a diet regain the weight in 3 to 5 years.

 

Don’t get me wrong: making healthy lifestyle changes is definitely something that I support. I understand that people often need more structure in making these changes. Thus, I don’t have a problem with following a plan to help incorporate new dietary behaviors. I have a problem with any resolution that advocates for better health while feeding off of peoples’ desire to find attraction, acceptance, love, or success. I have a problem with resolutions that lead people to put their self-worth into their body or eating habits. I have a problem with resolutions that operate from a place of lack – peoples’ lack of gratitude for their present body, health, and life.

 

I know what this place of lack feels like; I still sometimes find myself caught in it. However, I finally feel more often than not that I’ve fostered an environment of enoughness – with my body, with my relationships, with my accomplishments. I’ve developed a mindset of self-compassion and let go of that tough-love, all-or-nothing approach. This means that I do what I need to take care of myself, which right now requires having the courage to say no to a dietary resolution that makes me feel ungrateful for my body. I’d rather accept my body as it is and take care of it by eating a balanced diet including foods I enjoy and moving my body in ways that feel good to me. This mindset feels wrong in today’s world of media messages that tell me I must change something about myself (specifically, my body). However, I choose to make changes in my life, love myself, and be successful on my own terms.

 

I wasn’t going to make a resolution this year as a silent protest, but after some contemplation I realize there is a resolution I’d like to try. I resolve to start each day operating from a place of gratitude. To start each day thinking about those things that I am grateful for instead of thinking about what is insufficient in myself or in my life.

 

Instead of waking up every morning and asking myself what I need to change, I resolve to start every day with a this question:

“What are you grateful for?”

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