We survived the holidays and have finally reached 2018. With January comes New Years Resolutions. I prefer to use the term goals over resolutions, but whatever you want to call it, I am down for improving ourselves.
That said, during the week between Christmas and New Years, I taught a few classes and kept hearing the same complaints. “I ate too much.” “I feel fat.” “I am a blob.” “I need to lose x pounds.” These are real things people say about themselves. When the time was appropriate, I did step in and tried to reassure that we all eat differently during the holidays. We should enjoy the festivities. It’s nothing to feel bad about. And it’s only temporary.
After all of those conversations, we are now in the new year where one of the most common resolutions is to lose weight. Again, I am all for bettering ourselves, but body image is something I have struggled with so I’m going to step on my soap box for a moment.
It’s okay to want to lose weight – I have been there – but before you get too far down the rabbit hole of frequent gym visits and diet restrictions, I want you to ask yourself some questions:
Why do you want to lose weight?
Do you want to be healthier?
Is it about changing your physique?
Is it about the number on the scale? Or clothing size?
Do you want to feel differently? More energetic?
Do you actually need to lose weight? (I ask this one because there were times where I was on the low end of “average” on the spectrum of height-weight ratio, yet I wanted to lose weight because I wasn’t as small as so-and-so)
Everyone has their own story, their own body, so I’m not asking you to forgo losing weight, but I think it’s important to be honest with yourself about your motivations behind it. If I had thought about these questions when I was trying to lose weight after college, I imagine my experience would have gone very differently. I only cared about the numbers – what was the smallest pant size I could fit into? Could I reach an arbitrary number on the scale in this amount of time? Specifically, could I be closer to the size I was in high school?
In this day and age, it’s easy to get caught up and push ourselves too far. Many of us are competitive and want to do everything better than everyone else, including weight loss. It doesn’t help that the images we still see in entertainment and on social media are, largely, gorgeous, tiny women. I can’t speak for every one, but I know I feel the pressure to look that way. All I have to do is scroll through my Instagram feed for 5 minutes before judging myself for being a yoga teacher that doesn’t have a six pack. The blasphemy!
Personally, I think it’s more important to focus on being healthier because you want to feel better over anything that is strictly about appearance.
I make certain decisions because I want to feel stronger. I want to see if poses that have seemed impossible can feel possible, and dare I say, easy. I don’t want to feel like I’m about to pass out because of a spike of my blood sugar levels.
None of my goals this year revolve around weight. I am trying to cut back on sugar and incorporate more fruits, veggies, and protein because I wasn’t exaggerating above. At a holiday party, I thought I was going to faint after drinking a glass of wine, eating pretty much only carbs, and then a plate full of desserts. Once all of that sugar hit me, I couldn’t stand for more than a minute before feeling light headed. I couldn’t focus on the conversations people were trying to have with me. As we were leaving, I drank a full glass of water, got my blood sugar down, and then felt completely fine. But that is not something I want to go through again. I wasn’t mindful, and while nothing bad happened and it passed quickly, my body can be sensitive and I need to listen to it.
If one of your resolutions is to lose weight, try focusing on changing how you feel vs. “looking better.” Don’t get caught up in the numbers, like I did.* They do not define your worth. If you make choices based on wanting to feel happier, healthier, fill in the blank, then you can have a positive mentality no matter what the scale says. Your body will physically change, but it can be secondary – an added bonus/a welcomed side effect.
Alright, I am jumping off of my soap box now. Good luck with your goals in 2018! I wish you all the best, and thank you for your constant support. Here’s to another year together, and hopefully many more!
*Like with anything, there are always exceptions to the rules, especially if you have a health issue and are working with a doctor. In that case, numbers might be pivotal in your journey. I am not a doctor, a specialist, or any type of medical professional, and you should always refer to them.