January always sets us up for a better and brighter outlook on life and we enter the new year with such high hopes of how ‘this is OUR year’, excited for change and raring to go. In reality, January is the month of snotty noses, post-Christmas budgeting and impending tax returns. Our dreams of ‘new year, new me’ are forgotten as last year’s routine slips comfortably back into place as quickly as the confetti from new year celebrations settles. But what did we expect? Can we really reinvent ourself overnight, all because we have a fresh calendar on the wall?
According to YouGov, 16% of us said we’d make a New Year’s resolution this year (compared to the 11% last year) and young people are most likely to make a resolution. Health and fitness goals top the list this year, with 49% of those wanting to exercise more, 41% committed to improving their diet, and 40% wanting to lose weight.
It’s unsurprising that ‘health and fitness’ resolutions have been the top choice for change for the last three years, since January has become a battlefield of diet culture and body shaming. We emerge from the holidays, filled with parties, mince pies and mulled wine and talk turns to new diets and exercise regimes.
“The diet starts tomorrow” echoes through the last days of December, and then it hit us, the post-Christmas downturn in self-worth. Weight-loss companies, personal trainers and ‘fitspiration’ influencers smell our vulnerability and fill our screens, feeds and minds with toxic diet speak.
We are optimistic at first, but these ideals and supposed ‘its-not-a-diet-its-a-lifestyle’ don’t really have a long shelf life. In fact, I’ve learnt this week that there is actually a day which people are most likely to officially ‘quit’ their ‘new year, new me’ aspirations, aptly-names Quitter’s Day. It should be noted, however, I did see this on social media so I’m not entirely sure what that’s based on, it could just be someone giving a name to our resolution insecurities to create a self-fulfilling prophecy we are destined to fall into.
The figures (YouGov, again) say that says 30% of those who made New Year resolutions for 2021 claim to have kept all their resolutions, nearly 20% own up and say they did not keep any of the resolutions, with the remainder saying they achieved some of what they set out to do.
So, what’s the answer?
One thing I quite like about the new year is reflection. I like to think about how far I’ve come over the last twelve months and, whilst I may not have achieved my resolutions or the things I set out to do, I can still see through that and focus on the changes I have made – no matter how small they might be.
I entered 2022 with the same job, relationship and home as I did in 2021, but I’ve gone from part-time to full-time with First Steps ED, I’m in an amazing place with my boyfriend and we are about to move into our first house together. It’s all about perspective and looking at the smaller steps you’re making to achieve the larger life goals.
Finding the right resolution for you…
I think it is important to understand your intentions behind the resolution, and if it’s because the labyrinth of January diet marketing is telling you you’re not enough then it’s probably for the wrong reasons. Be kind to yourself, eating normally and exercise because you want to, not because you have to. It is easy to beat ourselves up for not looking a certain way but it isn’t doing us any good. You’re enough as you are. Your worth is not defined by the scales and you are so loved.
My resolution this year was a small one, centred around a bit of self-care. One thing I have always loved to do is to read, but I often struggle to find the time. If you’ve read one of my earlier blogs ‘Book Review: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig’ you’ll know that I only really read when I’m on holiday. When I return, my intentions are good, I will try to continue my reading spree, until one day I don’t have time, which turns into a week, then a month and… well, you get the gist.
I like reading, as much as I like writing. It helps me relax and switch off from all the overthinking so this year I am going to make time. I even pre-empted the usual excuses I make and actually asked for books for Christmas. Not only do I have the incentive to unwind and engage in some self-care, I now want to read so I can properly thank the in-laws for their book recommendations.
I’m not alone in my mindful approach to the new year either, with 15% of people looking to take up a new hobby this year, 16% wanting to spend less time on social media and 8% hoping to volunteer or do more for charity (which is up from last year!)
Whether or not you have a resolution, what is important is YOU. Be flexible and be kind to yourself. Twelve months is a long time, and our priorities can change. If we lose focus within the first week, the first month or even just before the new year bells chime for 2023, it doesn’t mean we have failed. Keep going and keep making progress and ultimately, find what works for you.