Why my New Year's resolution will not be to lose weight in 2018...

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Happy New Year everybody!! I hope you had a delightful New Year’s Eve doing whatever you were doing and eating and drinking whatever you desired! I can’t believe it’s 2018! How on earth did that happen?!

As standard, the New Year always brings with it a New Year’s resolution or two. I expect people all over the world have already spent their Christmas break contemplating what they want to accomplish in the year ahead. Many of us view the New Year as a chance to put our 2017 mishaps and failures behind us and push forward with brand spanking new goals…or sometimes even the same goals if breaking last year’s happens to be one of our failures!

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions yet? Yes? Let me guess, one of them is to lose weight?

If you've answered in the affirmative, I’m sure you won’t be alone.  Whatever the motivation, whether it’s a summer holiday or for health reasons, so many of us will set this goal for 2018. Undoubtedly, vast quantities of exercise DVD’s and diet books were unwrapped on Christmas day and are now poised, eagerly awaiting the Christmas binge to be over so they can do their thing.

Personally, I'm steering well clear of this particular resolution in 2018, having had a mostly hate relationship with it in the past. Instead, I've found a much more positive and fun alternative that seems to have worked for me in 2017. 

My experience…

Losing weight has certainly been my resolution on a number of occasions. In fact, I’d say it was on repeat from about 2002 to 2015! However, each time I made it, I didn’t stick to it. Now I know why.

I realise now that “losing weight” was entirely the wrong goal to set. By narrowly focusing on that, I spent most of my time feeling hungry and moody, running for miles on a treadmill and eating uninspiring salads. That is, until I packed the misery in around, oh, March time and that was the end of that New Year’s resolution! Sounds like fun, right?

So, instead of making another restrictive goal to lose weight, at the beginning of 2017 I made a very general goal to get fitter, stronger and learn more about healthy eating. In doing so, it turns out I’ve ended up in the best shape of my life! 

I’ve never really been fixated on weighing myself and, even when losing weight was my direct goal, I tended to measure it by how I felt and looked and how my clothes fit me. However, setting a goal to lose weight did inevitably put a lot of pressure on to do purely that and, if I didn’t feel like I was losing any weight, it was very discouraging.  I also assume people who do use the scales to measure progress spend each week hopping onto said scales and berating themselves for not shedding the optimum amount of pounds. Being in the very narrow mind set of “I must lose weight” can also make every workout a chore and every meal a bit of a bore! Don’t even get me started on what happens if you “cheat” and indulge one day!! Welcome to the deep dark pit of guilt. Enjoy the single lettuce leaf you’ll allow yourself to munch on the following day!

In 2017 I’ve become really passionate about fitness and healthy eating and generally making it a part of my lifestyle. I don’t see exercise as a chore that I'm doing purely to shed pounds. I’ve enjoyed learning new techniques in the gym, learning to lift weights and becoming more mobile.  I’ve learnt to cook interesting, varied and colourful meals, focusing more on the ingredients and the health benefits they bring, rather than the amount of calories they contain. I haven't restricted myself to salads and boring diets and my meals no longer leave me wanting. As an unintended consequence, I have lost weight and I am much happier with my body shape but, because that wasn’t my ultimate goal, losing weight this year has been a much more enjoyable and relaxed affair than when it was my singular aim!

Whatever floats your boat…

One size doesn’t fit all of course. My way of doing things might not work for others. I know friends who have set the more specific goal of “losing weight” and have gone on a diet to do just that. They’ve been successful and that’s amazing. However, if like me, you’ve set this goal for yourself countless times and are sick of entering December feeling just as flabby as you did in January, I would certainly advocate for ditching the very restrictive (and dull!) “lose weight” New Year’s resolution and instead making a more general goal to become healthier and fitter. If you focus on that and enjoy it whilst you are doing it, you will inevitably end up being in better shape than when you started but won't have spent your year focusing on every last pound you wanted to shed and beating yourself up when you put one back on! It's worked for me.

For some, the goal of "get fitter" might seem a bit too vague and it might be more achievable for them if there is some way to measure progress. Personally, I have just noticed my progress in the way I look, how clothes fit, and how much stronger I am now. That's been enough to keep me on track. However, if you know that wouldn't work for you, I know friends who take progress photos or just make notes of their progress, for example if they happen to lift a heavier weight than last time. It really does just come down to whatever works for you!  

If you prefer your goals to be more specific and measurable, why not try one (or all!) of the following:

1.  Learn a new yoga pose and become proficient at it.

2. Sign up for a 10k run and train for that.

3. Take up a new sport.

Finally…

Like I've said, one size certainly doesn't fit all but the reason I think the "lose weight" resolution never worked for me was because it meant my sole focus was on entirely the wrong thing and that made it very unenjoyable. Since I've been focusing first and foremost on leading a healthier and fitter lifestyle all round, I've become really passionate about it, thoroughly enjoyed it, and, bonus, I've lost weight, toned up and I'm the happiest I've ever been with my body. Ultimately, enjoying the pursuit of meeting my New Year's resolution has been the key to me sticking to it and achieving what I set out to do. 

I’d love to know what your New Year’s resolutions are. Let me know what you’re planning for the year ahead!