2022:Not Your Regular New Years Resolution
Ahhhhh, the New Year. The hustle and bustle of the winter holidays has finally come to a close for most and we are thankful for that. It is also such an exciting time where many people will set resolutions and goals for this new upcoming chapter: 2022. We often find ourselves researching and pondering about different goals we want to set and work towards for the near year. And after a year like 2021, I get it. I really do!
I don’t know about you, but I often find myself repeating that I will walk into the new year graciously, with my head down and to be sure not to upset the COVID-Gods [insert sarcastic smirk] so that maybe one day this pandemic will end and NOT be a repeat of the past…. Right?! I know I am not alone here. And while our options are limitless on the type of goals that we set, more times than not it is centered around weight loss. Now that I think about it, I am not quite sure if I have ever set a New Years resolution that was not in some way related to my weight.
Hello there, fat-phobia. [inserts long and overly dramatic yet accurate sigh here]
Hmm, so what is “fat-phobia”? You may ask… well to put it simply, it is a culturally ingrained stigma, prejudice, and/or discrimination associated with being obese, overweight, or simply put, “fat”. It is the idea that your body is “bad”, “ugly”, or “lesser than” because of its size and/or shape. It’s the premise that our medical professionals often attribute weight to many of our health issues rather than looking for alternative causes or correlations. Another example would be how people, including children, are being classified as overweight or obese and encouraged to simply “loose weight” starting at younger and younger ages. My personal favorite is the inability to purchase life insurance (you know, just trying to be a responsible adult and do some future planning for my family) simply due to my weight and no other health concerns documented in my medical record. This, my friends, is fatphobia and it has infested our society.
So then, how is fatphobia related to New Year’s resolutions???? SIMPLE.
For most, there is a societal pressure to be smaller and thinner which will make you “more attractive” - oh and here is our fun gadget to help you get there! You will see this plastered in the media and marketing gurus really take advantage of us during this time. There will be specials for gym memberships, herbal/medical/nonmedical weight loss supplements, and so many more items to ‘help you reach your goals’. Just take a look at your local ads and circulars to see the prevalence of weight loss marketing and propaganda. It is literally EVERYWHERE. You cannot miss it unfortunately.
Now, let me be very clear: is wanting to lose weight necessarily a “bad” thing? Well, no … but it can be.
I do think the New Year is a great time to sit and reflect on how much our language can alter the meaning in something as simple as that sentence. What if we were to reword the question above like this instead:
Is wanting to be healthy necessarily a bad thing?
I think we would all agree that the desire to be healthy is usually very appropriate. The trick here is HOW do we define “healthy” and what action steps do we take to get here? And being very clear that being healthy does not relate in any way towards our weight, a number on the scale, a BMI calculation, a medical classification such as “obese”, the tag inside of our clothing, or any other social construct used to measure the size of our body.
Weight loss DOES NOT equal being healthy.
WEIGHT is NOT an indicator of health.
Read that again.
For this New Year, I want to throw out a very radical, yet up and coming idea, that full disclosure, I am working on personally adapting and implementing myself…
Maybe it isn’t the size of our body that needs to change.
What if, instead, it was HOW we talked to our body that needs an overhaul instead? Let’s explore this a little bit, my friends. Do we talk to our body like we would a friend? You know, all sweet, kind, and uplifting? I’m talking about that high school pep-talk that we give our besties before a date! Do we do that for our body? Or do we talk to them in a more neutral way? Nothing super kind but nothing super hateful either? Or would things said seem really hateful and ugly that we wouldn’t dare utter out loud to another human being that we care for? Here is where many people, including myself at times, fall when it comes to our relationship with our body and the negative self-talk that plays on repeat. And man, do I get it. It is exhausting living in a body that we do not like, let alone, do not love.
But what if we did something different this New Year? Maybe we need to try to be intentional in un-learning the self-talk that has been reinforced over and over and over by society about how our current weight impacts our health, our ability to enjoy life, and most importantly, our WORTH.
Let’s sit with that for a moment.
Did you feel that drop in your stomach too?
Not just me? Okay, great.
I will even take it a step further to say that maybe we need to GRIEVE the idea that our weight impacts our worthiness. We can grieve a fallacy that was held so tightly to our inner beliefs. This is a premise that many of us have tightly held for such a long time. We can instead release those ideas, expectations and notions that deemed us as “lesser than”. It is important that we rewrite our inner dialogue to where we can acknowledge that our ability to be loved is in absolutely *no* way connected to our size. None, whatsoever. That our ability to get the promotion is not merely decided because of how our body is shaped. That to reach our certain individualized and unique life goals is totally *and* completely unrelated to our weight, body shape, body image and size. And that any other expectation, goal, or desire is directly related to our body shape or size.
What if we were to let that idea drift away from us? Maybe we take a moment to close our eyes, center ourself while sitting, and take a few slow breaths. And as you notice your heartbeat gradually slowing down, we can visualize those negative ideas drifting away. Further and further, until they are out of sight. And for once, we can notice the feeling of light-ness that comes with that release. And when you’re ready, you can open your eyes, do a light stretch, and reorient yourself back to the here and now.
My sweet friend, your body is so much more than a number on a scale or letter on a clothing tag.
You are so much MORE than your body.
For this New Year, let’s stand together and make a commitment to reconnect with our body in a loving, nurturing, and gentle manner. Maybe in order to do this we need to reconnect with food in a more healthy manner also without shame, blame, guilt or judgement. This is tough for me too. Together, working on our own stuff, we can help lessen and one day eventually banish the fatphobia mentality from society. We can release the “new year, new you” concepts. The “you” that you are is enough. It always has been and always will be.
Let’s let go of the expectation that my goal is to lose weight. Scratch that idea all together. Besides, there is no weight limit on beauty. And your purpose in life is NOT to lose weight or ‘get fit’. Shoutout to those of us who are relearning the purpose in life; who after a lifetime of believing that losing weight is the only thing we have to offer the world, we begin to see other meanings.
It can end here. It really can. We can release these mental traps when it comes to weight loss and our societal pressures. It is also important to acknowledge that loving our body does not mean that we like how it looks or thinking that our body looks ‘good’ (whatever that is). Instead it is knowing that your ‘here and now’ body IS good, regardless of how it looks. It is knowing that we can explore movement with our body to see what it CAN do versus focusing on exercise and what our body cannot do, nor is it a punishment for what we have eaten. Our body is an instrument, a vessel, for us to use and not an ornament or item to be admired.
If you’re thinking of setting a New Years Resolution and creating your action plan, let’s take a different approach for 2022. Instead of asking, “how can I lose weight?”, let’s try to ask ourselves these questions instead:
How can I take better care of my body?
How can I nourish my body with food?
How can I better hydrate my body?
How can I explore gentle movement with my body?
How can I better manage the stress carried within my body?
How can I reconnect with my body in a more loving way?
If something within this blog resonated with you, I would encourage you to reflect on it’s contents. Journal and meditate on it. You can also discuss it with a safe person. It may also be something to explore with a professional such as a trained therapist, registered dietician, and other HAES (Health At Every Size) positive providers. My friends, this is tough work. It is by no means easy. And it is also doable with the right support.
Here are a few items that I would encourage you to explore that are related to body positivity, mindfulness, compassion and self-acceptance that can help further this discussion. Some of these I own and LOVE while others are waiting for me in my Amazon cart (if you know, you know)!
*If you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
**This blog is written for self-reflection purposes and does not replace the medical or professional care by a trained and licensed Therapist, Registered Dietitian, Primary Care Provider nor any other medical/helping professional. Please consult with your care team before making any major health changes as each person's health is unique and needs are also individualized.
Blog is written by Heather Thomasson, LPC/MHSP, PMH-C