To the New Year’s Resolutioner Looking to Change Their Body

Let me begin by saying that you are beautiful, valuable, and wonderful just as you are. Your body does not need to change to be good enough. You do not need to change your body to be good enough. You already are good enough.

And I want to say that it’s ok and possible to love yourself and to feel that you’d be more at ease in a smaller body, a stronger body, a body that can move more freely or a body with less chronic pain. It’s possible that losing some weight, gaining some muscle, or working out more regularly can help you with those aspirations. It’s also possible that they won’t. But I don’t fault you for wanting to try, and I don’t think it’s impossible for you to get results that help you feel better in your body.

I do think that the vast majority of these conversations are backwards–they start with the results and then people try to force themselves into the lifestyles that they think they need to adhere to in order to get those results. Instead, I would love for each of us to have an honest conversation about what lifestyle we can move towards more consistently and then find out what results from that.

Adherence and consistency are the biggest challenges I see for folks, not motivation. We need to be really honest with what we are willing and able to do on our worst days, not just our best ones. I am not willing to stop eating dessert entirely, but I am willing to set some loving boundaries around dessert-eating. I am not able to work out intensely two hours a day, but I am able to work out most mornings for at least a little while. Are you willing to go to bed early enough consistently to get 8 hours of sleep a night? Are you able to turn down Aunt Jody’s famous macaroni and cheese in front of the entire family, and do you really want to live a life without it?

It’s ok for what we do today to evolve into more later as we improve our capacity. It is also ok for what we used to do to evolve for now into less. Keep doing something that moves the needle towards progress. And keep in mind that consistency isn’t the same thing as perfection–you don’t have to do it right every time, you just need to do it good enough most of the time. Fucking up is an essential part of learning and results come from what we do most of the time.

Do a little bit better rather than pushing yourself into some unachievable overhaul. Only change a little at a time, practice consistency, and find out how little you actually have to do to get results. What if you can keep eating whatever you want and just need to learn to stop eating when satisfied at most meals? What if you don’t need to cut out sugar but just need to learn to say no to the sweets that aren’t amazing? What if the skill you need to learn is to really listen to yourself and your body and to ask at each choice-point, what do I really need right now and then to honor that?

External measures of success like body weight, body measurements, pounds lifted, or miles run are technically out of our control–all we can truly influence are the steps we take to get there. Moreover, we usually buy into the lie that only then can we be happy, only then will we be worthy of love, only then will we feel confident, and when it doesn’t happen, we think it’s our body that’s still the problem. What if you could learn to be confident, comfortable, loved as you are and avoid the endlessly moving goalposts?

Focus on the process, and you stay in a place of personal choice and influence. Focus on internal measures of success–how you feel in your body after a meal, after a workout, after getting enough sleep–and you avoid the comparison and shame that comes from not measuring up against an arbitrary, external metric based upon systems of oppression. Make the process one of empowerment rather than self-harm.

Make decisions based on what brings you joy, makes you feel closer to yourself, makes you feel more at peace, and the results that come from this can only be a win. When we make choices on how we live our lives from a place of love, acceptance, and values, we are less likely to do harm. I want you to build self-trust, to gain self-confidence, to find yourself. Move towards your best life and let your body become whatever it will become while living that life.

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