As 2020 comes to a long-anticipated wrap, many of us are relieved and ready for a fresh start. I think we can all agree this has been a rough one, and we all deserve some TLC. Despite the harsh blow of 2020, the New Year, means New Year's resolutions.
It’s an unquestionably conventional notion that New Year’s resolutions center around health, weight, or the body. The practice of dieting to achieve weight loss has been interwoven into acceptable societal norms, along with applause and commentary based on your success. It will definitely not be a surprise to see our social media filled with New Year's resolutions in motion come January 1st, and side by side comparison photos thereafter. It’s remarkably normal, therefore we accept it, but should we?
Check-in: What was your resolution last year? Were you able to keep it? How long did it last? What caused you to stop? What allowed you to keep it up?
The changes we want to make to ourselves tend to be extreme, because we want a quick fix. That's why we construct goals that are strict and intense; to get results fast!
Our heads are in the right place, and we are motivated, yet we fall short, why? Because the goals we set are unrealistic, unattainable, and not supportive of our mental and emotional needs.
I think you know what New Year’s resolutions I’m talking about. We tell ourselves, I’m going to lose 30 lbs in one month. These goals where we expect to be in a different body in a very short amount of time are not feasible, nor healthful, and leave us feeling disappointed and shameful about ourselves.
Many of us can commiserate with this feeling of diet failure. We start out strong on our regimen. Going to the gym everyday, running even if we despise it, only eating salads and raw vegetables, drinking smoothies, and painstakingly staying away from the foods we love. Fast forward a few weeks/months, we return to our regular habits.
Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t we follow through with these goals? Does it make us weak and lack self control if we can’t?
Hint: No, not at all.
Whether you’re coming up with an impractical weight-loss goal, following a new fad diet, or in general, engaging in restrictive regimens that don’t make you happy in order to change your physical appearance, the reality is your ability to retain these impossible practices will come to a halt pretty quickly. Because the fact of the matter is, diets don’t work!
The modern myth is, if you’re motivated, disciplined, and follow the diet, you will succeed. And that is just not true.
"The most extreme diet will not give you extreme results - just extreme disappointment when you can’t sustain the extreme measures.”Registered Dietitian Lindsey Janeiro
So what is the answer then? What we need is a healthier mindset, to make realistic long-term changes, and balance. Seems simple enough, right? But people don’t want to hear this. I think the appeal of dieting is that it promises you something that is too good to be true.
We are not drawn to the idea of small, gradual, life-long diet changes because it doesn't give us the excitement of the popular, extreme-result, fad diet that everyone seems to be doing. And you certainly won’t see anyone advertising the ‘small, gradual changes diet’ because it doesn’t make as much money as trendy diet products like hunger-suppressant pills, detox programs, or celery juice. If it’s too good to be true, they are just trying to make money off your vulnerability.
The point I’m trying to hit home is it’s time to throw out the outdated law of the land that health is about self-control, willpower, and the number on the scale. Let’s normalize forever changes, flexibility, and feeling-good focused habits. So as we ring in the New Year, and diet and health advertising is at its prime, keep in mind these definitions, facts, and myths about dieting.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding diet.
This article has been reviewed by a Registered Dietitian, Waverly Taki, MS. RD. CD. and Dietetics Student, Danielle Lycklama, for additional accuracy.