A Losing Battle?
What are your goal ideas for 2020? According to a study by Ipso for Urban Plates, the most popular New Year Resolutions are eating better and making better financial decisions – over 50% of resolutions. Losing weight was found to be in 40% of resolution-makers goal list. Yet, an article in the U.S. News reports 80% of New Year Resolutions have failed by the second week in February. That is merely six weeks after starting!
Resolutions and goals can be hard to keep for several reasons:
- Creating goals that are not addressing the identified issue (setting the wrong goal)
- Trying goal ideas that are too restrictive or hard to keep up with long-term
- Making too many goals – 20% of resolution-makers planned to make multiple resolutions this year
Goal Ideas that do not address the issue
Weight loss is traditionally one of the most common resolutions Americans make each year. Yet the weight loss industry is worth more than $70-billion and continues to grow yearly. As you know from my previous posts, weight loss is a losing battle. More than 80% of people who try to lose weight fail within five years.
In addition, most people who want to lose weight will be doing so with the ultimate goal of improving health. Research shows that health can be good or bad at any size. Many times losing weight is then not addressing the real issue.
Goal ideas that might more likely improve health include getting regular check-ups and recommended screenings, increasing pleasurable physical activity, decreasing stress, and improving nutrition. These are activities that can actually improve health and wellbeing that are in our control. Some factors, such as socio-economic status for example, are out of our control.
Resolutions that are too restrictive or too hard to maintain
Have you ever tried a diet that has left you hungry all day? Or an exercise program that was too strenuous? Chances are you aren’t still on that diet or maintaining that exercise program. Many of us, among the excitement and motivation of a new year, set goals that are just too hard.
Lasting health resolutions are pleasurable, doable, and good for the body. Instead of starving your body, you might try taking a page from Intuitive Eating and shift your focus to nourishing your body. Authors Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch recommend “gentle nutrition” which includes striving for consistency not perfection. You might, for instance, choose foods that you both love and make the body feel good. My previous post about Intuitive Eating will give you more information.
Similarly, you might start an exercise goal by choosing movement that you enjoy – you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Any movement is good for the body! You don’t have to maintain a program that is very strenuous, or that increases your risk for injury in order to reap the benefits of exercise.
Making too many resolutions
Finally, humans are just not that good at multi-tasking. Focusing on too many goals at once can leave us overwhelmed, and unable to perform any at the best of our abilities. It might be more manageable to focus on one or two goals at a time.
You might even consider re-assessing your goals each quarter instead of focusing only on the New Year. By setting a few goals, and continually re-assessing and altering them as needed you might be more likely to maintain your motivation and stick to what is working well for you!
Setting Goals That Last
No matter your goal, there is strategy to making it work. Many of you know by now how to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Relavant/Realistic, and Timely). Yet, there is one more step to evaluate your goal ideas to make sure they are right for you. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How important on a scale of 0-10 is this goal to me?
- How confident on a scale of 0-10 am I that I can reach this goal?
By answering these two questions, you can better gauge a goal or resolution that is good for you. If you aren’t at least a 7 or more on either scale, consider adjusting the goal. If you goal importance is less than 7, is this really the one that you want to spend your time on? Similarly, if you aren’t confident you can complete your goal, consider changing it somehow to make it work. For example, if you aren’t confident you can get to the gym five days a week, would you be more confident that you could go three days? Or, maybe you want to focus on movement for five days, but it doesn’t have to be at the gym.
A Word For Intuitive Eaters
This time of year can be a struggle for us intuitive eaters. With all the weight loss and diet talk around us, it can be hard not to get caught up in the excitement. It isn’t wrong to focus on health, or set goals in the New Year. This is just a gentle reminder that weight loss and dieting hasn’t gotten you and won’t get you to where you want to be.
Try focusing on the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating to help you focus in on your health goals. Maybe this year, you make your resolution to work through the Intuitive Eating Workbook, or to work with a Health At Every Size practitioner to improve your relationship with food. Maybe you begin some gentle movement to increase your activity. Whatever you do, remember that goals are supposed to make your body feel good.
So what is your New Year Goal, or how have you altered it to create a great 2020? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Niki is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of New Frontier Nutrition LLC. Niki works to help clients create a diet-free life with Intuitive Eating strategies. She lives at home with her partner, two dogs, and three cats.