New Year is coming, and I swear when the clock strikes midnight, I will turn my life around this time and turn into a slimmer, healthier, and happier version of me. I will get an annual membership to the gym and use it a whole three weeks, before falling back into my old patterns, disappointed in myself.
Making New Year’s resolutions can bring a great sense of motivation. But it is also a bad idea when you are an emotional eater.
Sometimes we may consciously want to lose weight, but a part of us may be resistant and just won’t let us do it.
Emotional eating is triggered when we are faced with uncomfortable emotions we don’t want to feel. Setting New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and exercise can trigger some of these difficult emotions. Our coping mechanism, i.e., eating, will be activated to numb them, and lead us to counter-productive results.
For example, emotional eaters often struggle with low self-esteem. If we feel fundamentally flawed, a part of us might believe we don’t deserve to achieve a significant weight loss. If we believe we’re undeserving of success, this limiting belief will cause us to hold ourselves back from fulfilling our weight loss goals and fail to complete our New Year’s resolutions.
In some other situations, we feel like if we lose weight, we are going to be pulled into totally different activities, with new people. But at the same time, we don’t want to be disloyal to people who have stuck with us until now.
Our anxiety spikes, and we experience more frequent and more intense food cravings, subconsciously pulling back from our New Year’s resolutions. Because we fear we would end up alone, abandon our roots, or leave behind people we care for.
In addition, many emotional eaters feel like they are responsible for others’ feelings. They believe if they stick to their New Year’s resolutions and achieve a significant weight loss, they will shine too much, and will make others feel bad or look bad.
They have an internal upper limit to the degree of success, health, and physical attractiveness they allow into their lives. They subconsciously choose to fail their New Year’s weight loss goals, to not outshine people they love.
New Year’s Resolutions create too much stress for emotional eaters. They rarely work because they create self-loathing and other difficult emotions that lead us to eat more, making achieving the goals we set impossible. So, where do we go from here?
Big changes don’t just happen. They require sustained action (and a different kind of action than you’re used to) that can move you forward towards your weight loss goal despite the challenges, struggles and pushback. To achieve your New Year’s weight loss goals will require you to become someone who is different from who you are today.
Until you can heal what turned eating into a coping mechanism that gives you food cravings every time you feel bad, you will continue to perpetuate the challenges you are trying to walk away from. Your level of self-awareness needs to increase before your eating behavior can change.
If you want to bring a significant change in your life and consistently lose weight next year, you need to understand at a deep level why you eat the way you do. You need to recognize what keeps you locked in specific negative, self-sabotaging, or self-limiting behaviors that resist your will to become healthier.
Once you understand what drives your mindset, what are your emotional needs, values, beliefs, and fears, you will become able to commit to a deep level of change and stick to a healthier lifestyle.
Most of us know we want to get healthier, but why we want it is often unclear. For example, do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children or grandchildren can admire and look up to? Do you want to lose fat, so you’ll feel more confident and sexier in your body? Do you want to be healthier, so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, focus, and mobility? Do you want to lose weight to live longer?
Clarity over why you want to lose weight and mustering the energy to give yourself another chance does not systematically happen right for New Year. Don’t wait until the cosmos perfectly aligns, or when it seems like a good time of the year to get started.
Instead, make resolutions and start your weight loss journey when it is the right time for you. When you understand your struggles, your limits, and you have decided to go pass them. Make yourself a priority and you will find a way to adjust your daily routine to you needs, instead of the other way around.
This new year, instead of setting goals, you might take the opportunity to assess what worked well for you this past year. Who was of good influence, what activities fulfilled your emotional needs, and what situations made it possible for you to stick to a healthy lifestyle. You may also decide what you don’t need in your life anymore, and why. Forget about standardized norms, what you should want or enjoy, and be true to yourself.
If you must set resolutions for this New Year, make them about behaviors (i.e., drink only water, walk 30 minutes every day, etc.) rather than clothing sizes or numbers on a scale. Be as specific as you can when you set your goals and remember to enjoy the journey!
How do you plan to make the best out of this coming year? What priorities are you going to focus on? What behaviors were helpful for you in the past year or two?