The new year is going to be in a few days and it’s quite likely that like many people, you are prepping your list of new year resolutions to whip your body into shape so you can finally love it without all those love handles. But I have a proposal for you. What if this year, you ditch the weight loss resolutions and give yourself a whole year of building a loving relationship with your body? Here are 6 new year resolutions that are all about being good to yourself.
1. Walk through the world like you have the right to be here (because you do).
For many of you out there, (myself included) there has often been an unspoken agreement that you can’t take up too much space, or you shouldn’t stand out too much because you look a certain way. We internalize those beliefs and we –sometimes unconsciously—learn to shrink ourselves so as to not be seen. This year, learn to stand a little taller, hold your head a little higher, wear something a little louder (if that’s your thing), go do that thing you’ve always been afraid to do because people like you don’t do that kind of thing. Walk through the world like you have the right to be here, because you do.
2. Pay attention to the way you judge people’s appearance.
We often project our own insecurities onto other people, so notice the things you judge in others. Do you look at other people’s arms because you don’t like the way yours look? Do you look at people’s stomach (flat or flabby) because you are battling with your own bulge? Make the new year resolution to be more compassionate with other people’s appearance and watch how it will transform the way you feel about yourself (and vice versa).
3. Let Someone Love You.
This seems like an odd thing to say because we all want to be loved but if you are one of those with low self-esteem, you might notice that you have a tendency to self-sabotage because it sounds like a lie when someone tells you that they love you. It seems unbelievable that someone would genuinely love you when you can barely stand yourself. So as you learn to love and appreciate yourself, pay attention to self-sabotage habits, and let someone love you, let someone hug you, let someone even give you the compliment and accept it.
4. Build an eating regimen that has nothing to do with weight loss.
From the very moment that I became self-aware enough to care about my body image, my relationship with food has always been a battlefield in which food groups were either allies or enemies; I was reading nutritional labels only to spot the ingredients that wouldn’t make me fat or either help me lose weight. Needless to say that is an exhausting process that would inevitably end in hours of feeling guilty after eating the “wrong calories. This year, I am inviting you to try a love diet. This diet is all about eating the foods that you know will nuture and take care of the awesome machine that your body. Eat more carrots because it’s good for your eyesight. Add Chia seeds in your oatmeal or your smoothies because of the high fiber content that facilitates your digestion. Eat more fruits because of their high anti-oxidants content which help boost your immune system. Eat more fish because it’s great for your brain. What your diet look like if you shifted from the weight loss mindset?
5. Pick up a skills-based exercise regimen.
Instead of going to the gym because you’re sick of yourself or you can’t fit into your old jeans, buy jeans a size higher and instead pick up a class to learn new skills. Have you always wanted to try martial arts? Boxing? Yoga? Crossfit? Pole Dancing? This is the year to try new things. Sign up for groupon and get classes for a cheaper price so you don’t break your wallet with your new found adventurous spirit. Also make youtube your best friend so you can do things for free. I recently picked up yoga (best thing to happen to me) and I couldn’t afford the class so I learned everything I know from youtube videos. What is different about skills-based exercise is that weight loss takes a backsit to improving your skills. In yoga for example, you will be more concerned with nailing a certain pose than you are with how many calories you are burning. Additionally, you will find yourself going to the gym because you want to work certain parts of your body to make it easier to achieve a specific goal. I often do a lot of abs workouts and push ups because a stronger core and shoulders help me keep good form when I do a handstand. With my new found love for pole dancing, I do a lot of upper body strength workouts to help with certain poses. This year, let weight loss be a by-product of your exercise rather than the central goal.
6. Write a love letter to yourself.
Trust me when I tell you that writing a love letter to yourself may be one of the most life changing things you could do for yourself. I will not lie to you and tell you that this love letter will suddenly erase away every insecurity that you’ve ever had about yourself. What this letter will do is force you to shift away from the constant scrutiny you subject yourself to, and focus on positives because you can’t write a love letter to someone you hate. You’ve spent all this time hating your body, so now it’s time to try something new and give yourself some much needed kindness, exactly as you are, right this minute. I understand that this may not be an easy process and it may even take a while for you to write this letter, but that’s why it’s a new year resolution so you have time. Don’t take too long though. Don’t wait until after you’ve lost some weight. Don’t wait until after you don’t feel bloated anymore. Don’t wait until after you’ve gotten your hair done. Write a letter to give yourself permission to love all of you. And if you do write it, I’ll be happy to share it on the blog.
Bonus: Make the effort to read this to yourself at least once a week.
“Many people treat their bodies as if they were rented from Hertz—something they are using to get around in but nothing they genuinely care about understanding.” —Chungliang Al Huang, author Your body is an amazing machine. Stop for a moment and think of all the things it does for you, every second of every day. It keeps your lungs breathing, your heart pumping, your muscles flexing so you can pick up a glass, hold someone’s hand, or walk into the next room. Every single cell in your body contains energy and life! When you criticize the way your body looks, you dishonor all the amazing ways it performs for you each and every second. Stop thinking about your body as just your hair color or facial features, and start thinking of your body as your heart, your liver, your bloodstream, your bones, your lifeline! Celebrate your body and all the incredible things it can do. ” (taken from here)
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.