Something to know—Two humans, Cameron and Rayla, run this blog—you can read more about us if you are interested, but for the meantime, we just want to say this particular post is written from Rayla’s point of view, but we do our writing together, and it is a reflection of both of us.
TW: I briefly mention my eating disorder and talk about trauma around previous weight-loss goals. I also talk about a new goal, which has more to do with changing how I feel about my body than it does with actually changing my body, but I think that can still be triggering for some peeps, and I want to give you a heads up.
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New Year's resolutions have always been somewhat negative for me. No matter what else was going on in my life, it felt like everyone and everything around me expected me to make weight loss goals, from being forced to make weight loss resolutions by my well meaning family, to hoping that “maybe this year I will actually lose weight and like my body”, and finally to the eventual shame about not keeping up with whatever unrealistic weight loss goal, diet plan, or workout schedule that I set in the first place.
I hated when we had resolution sharing sessions in school, because whether I said I wanted to lose weight or not, it somehow always came up that I should. I hated talking about resolutions at home, because everyone had an idea for how I could “finally lose weight.”
With everyone repeatedly acting like the only way I could be worthy was to change my body, what I really heard was that no other achievements mattered unless I did. Until recently, it felt like the only result of making resolutions was to feel bad about myself. No one in my life was quick to recommend resolutions about reading habits, mindfulness practices, or artistic pursuits. For many years I shut down when the topic of resolutions came up, unhappy with the emotions and feelings that tagged along.
All that said, I know there are tons of good reasons to make goals and plans. I know that movement is life and that you have to keep growing and challenging yourself in order to become your best self. I know that it can be hard to make changes without having clear intentions to do so. I know that goal-setting is a particularly awesome tool for growth, especially when done correctly. This year, I aim to do it correctly.
From a Hedonist perspective, a New Year's’ resolution is meaningless if it's not about becoming more devoted to pleasure. The negative side of resolutions comes when they are based in social and cultural expectations instead of pleasure; get a better job, get better grades, and of course, lose weight. While these things might lead to pleasure, the reason behind wanting them often has less to do with feeling good and more to do with placating or seeking the approval of others.
My main resolution for 2019 is all about pleasure; it rejects the expectations that society, my friends and family, and even I have put on myself. It is the resolution that has been hidden underneath every resolution about weight loss or changing my body that I have ever made:
Feel good in my body, however it is.
This is a pretty vague resolution when you come down to it, and the simplicity can make it feel not-so-actionable. Without setting up “sub-resolutions” to help me on this path, I am pretty sure it’ll be hard to keep up with, so I have taken the time to sit, breathe, plan, and make sure I have steps in place to ensure that I can succeed and feel good doing it. So if you are interested, here are my two main actionable sub-resolutions:
1. Enjoy my food. I have been working through my eating disorder and my trauma around it in order to develop a shame free attitude with food. This year is the year I will only eat the food that nourishes me, satisfies me, excites me, fills me, makes me feel strong and healthy, and propels me forward in life. This year I will listen to my body. I will not only hear my “fulls” and respect them, but my cravings as well. I will not limit or restrict myself. I will not shame myself. At times when I feel burdened with negative feelings and thoughts around food, I will turn to my resources, my loved ones and mindfulness techniques, in order to not shut down or fall into old destructive habits.
2. Find a movement practice that I love. I have done a lot of physical programs, had many different gym memberships and tried all the online workout routines. This year I want to fall in love with some kind of regular movement. I want to feel strong when I rock climb. I want to feel energized when I run up a set of stairs. I want to learn how to do inversions, and I want to love and forgive myself when I shake during a difficult pose in yoga. I want to fall asleep feeling physically tired, and wake up feeling sore. I want to feel like I use this wonderful body I was born with for more than my desk job and daily dog walk. Even on my laziest days, I want to move in a way that tells this body that I love it. When it’s weak, injured, tired or sick I want to respect its boundaries. I want to drop into the ways my body and my mind are connected, and stretch that relationship.
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These are just a couple specific pieces of my main resolution, and from here I have created (and am creating) plans that support these sub-resolutions. I made sure that these plans are full of small steps that feel both obtainable and pleasurable; otherwise, I’m not sure how I could ever actually expect to achieve my goals.
Whether setting resolutions is your thing or not, we have two quotes we want to share about change that we find really inspiring. We hope that you like them too.
“Your new life will cost you your old one.”
- Our friend Ariel
(Our friend Ariel didn’t actually make this up, it’s just a famous, untraceable internet quote, but he was the first person to bring it to our attention, and we remember that.)
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
(Except, confusingly, this wasn’t said by the famous Greek Socrates, but instead by a fictional gas station attendant in a fictional memoir by an actually famous gymnast (Dan Millman). Despite all that clunky-ness about its origin, we really like it.)
If it feels good, put a resolution for pleasure in the comments. We hope you have an enjoyable New Year!