Why this dietitian writes New Year’s Resolutions in December

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Yes. You read that correctly.

I write my New Year’s resolutions in early December.

Let's cut right to the chase on this one because it’s December and your time is precious (and because I have already resolved to condense my blog posts for my readers)!

Writing nutrition-related resolutions in the New Year typically does nothing but perpetuate the 'all or none' diet mentality.

Take a second and think about it: knowing that you are going to resolve to do better in the New Year gives yourself permission to open the flood gates in December, with the false hope that a fresh start lies ahead on that first day of the New Year. The 'might as well enjoy it while I can mentality' is really what I'm talking about here.

But is it really a clean start January 1st? What makes that first day of the new calendar year so much more significant than any other date?

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In our culture, January is often seen as the ideal month to resolve to do better, make changes in our lives and generally a time to set personal health goals for the new year ahead. And while I am all for setting goals and making positive improvements in our lives, the timing - coming right out of a holiday period where we have consumed lots of delicious food, drinks and treats, doesn’t help. In fact, I would venture to say that it typically does more harm than good. You start January feeling crummy, and then you decide to set an ambitious goal for yourself. In doing so, you discover a steep and scary mountain in front of you that you feel compelled to climb and may not have any hope of conquering, instead of facing a gently rolling hill with a reasonable chance of succeeding.

Statistics agree. Of the 41% of Americans who set New Year's resolutions, half of them resolve to eat healthier/lose weight. And the percent of those who feel successful in achieving their New Year's resolutions? A mere 9%. 

I know that what I am asking you to do, set New Year's resolutions in December, is counter-cultural, but I’m a counter-cultural kind of gal so perhaps you will humour me and entertain the idea for a few seconds.  

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I am certainly not endorsing that you resolve to lose large amounts of weight in December. Weight maintenance is a much more reasonable goal, or better yet, take the attention off the scale and focus on mindful eating. 

What I AM endorsing is developing an awareness of how writing New Year’s goals may not serve you (and actually hurt you) and whether you want to write those resolutions now, or later, at a more appropriate time for yourself. 

Every second of every day can serve as a new starting point for any goal - whether that be nutrition-related or not. Here are some examples of goals that you might look forward to setting in December (or any other month for that matter):

  • BECOMING A MINDFUL EATER: If becoming more of a mindful eater is a goal of yours, December is a perfect month to put into practice some of the techniques and tools of mindful eating. Practice makes perfect and there is lots of “on-the-court” practice time in December.
  • HYDRATING WITH WATER:  If increasing your water intake is a goal (or perhaps decreasing your intake of other sugar-sweetened beverages), then why not start filling up several glasses of water on the counter each morning in December and see if you can finish them off by the end of the day? 
  • INCREASING VEGGIES: If eating more vegetables is a general goal of yours, then why not resolve to put veggies on your plate first at each family gathering and see if you can get at least 3 different colours? Ask your children to count the different colours on their plate too - it's a great meal-time conversation starter. 

What’s most important is that you do what feels best for you.

Please realize that change does not happen overnight. Even if you achieve a one percent improvement on a particular resolution, that one percent gets you closer to where you want to be. Instead of seeing that as a failure, I challenge you to see that as an accomplishment - and a big one at that! 

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As for myself, I have two "December resolutions":

1. Move more. I am in the category of what I call “sedentary exercisers” - people who exercise regularly (i.e. morning spin classes, weight lifting and running at least 5 days a week) but to be frankly honest, I move very little on days when I am at work and even when home with my kids. And while the days can be busy and active running from task to task, I sit and work on the couch for most of the night. I can easily sit for hours at a time without even stretching. Research shows us that it’s not only important to exercise but to simply move more. So when I am done typing this blog I am taking a quick trip up and down the stairs a few times. For my clients, get ready for walking appointments … an option coming to you soon!

2. Start my day in God’s word, not social media. This is the most meaningful one for me. I have a love-hate relationship with social media, yet for some unknown reason, the first thing I do every morning is flip open my phone and check out the latest news stories, which can make me sad with the latest shooting or get me all riled up with the latest celebrity diet program being advertised. Starting my day on social media doesn’t ground me the way that God’s word does. What better month to start this than December when our family is re-discovering the wonder and amazement of the Christmas story.

 

What are your December New Year’s resolutions? Feel free to share below. If you need some help working through strategies over the holidays (or anytime time of the year for that matter!) please contact us! We have a few appointments left in December and would be happy to meet with you!

 

Take it one bite at a time, 

Rosanne