Rethinking Resolutions

The Body PositiveI hope you are enjoying the start to the new year! As the month of January comes to a close, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the lure of New Year's Resolutions and why they tend to fail.

If the purpose of resolutions is to make positive changes in our lives, it makes sense that we want these changes to be sustainable--to last throughout our lives. The problem is, most self-improvement books and programs promise a "new you for life" if you follow their program to the letter, but they generally fail at this goal. Why? Sustainable changes tend to happen slowly. The individual is often blamed for not having the will power to follow the rules of these programs. People go back to the behaviors they were trying to change by starting the program, with guilt and shame as their companions. Journalist Oliver Burkeman has an interesting column about why most self-improvement programs tend to fail.

The Body Positive supports people in making sustainable changes by honoring that people inherently possess the wisdom necessary to make healthy, balanced choices whenever possible. Our Be Body Positive Model allows for true success because success is not defined as an end goal of perfection, but as a way of living that gives all people permission to love, care for, and take great pleasure in their genetically inherited bodies as they change throughout life. We encourage individuals to engage in the process of trial and error, experimenting with listening to their own wisdom to guide them in making choices in all areas of their lives. This means that "errors" do occur, but instead of thinking of them as "failures," they are seen as opportunities to learn and grow. As one woman who works with The Body Positive says:

"There is no possibility of failure here. There are no rules to follow or tests to pass before I am allowed to love my body--flaws and all--and choose to take care of myself because it feels good. The Body Positive offers a new brand of personal responsibility that comes from a place of love rather than fear."

So, if you or others you know are already struggling with sticking to New Year's Resolutions, think about going easy on yourself. You are not alone! Think about making small changes. A few examples include adding in a few more fruits or vegetables into your diet rather than giving up certain foods for life! Giving yourself permission to take a walk in your neighborhood after work if you can't get yourself to the gym, knowing that your body will be grateful.

Enjoy your body now. It's the only one you've got!