As you make New Year’s resolutions, consider doing something different. Instead of resolving to lose weight, make a resolution to love your body, then share that love with your family. Your results will include health, energy and joy!
It's time for New Year's resolutions — those promises we make to ourselves based on good intentions, often made after eating a few more Christmas cookies than we intended. The most common New Year's resolution is to lose weight. For a lot of Americans, that's a great idea. But all too often, the problem isn't with our weight.
In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and others. In addition, millions more suffer from dissatisfaction with their bodies and sub-clinical eating disorders. By age 6, young girls begin talking about being "too fat," a concern that often lasts through life. Body dissatisfaction is the highest contributing factor to the development of an eating disorder.
As you make New Year's resolutions this year, consider doing something different. Instead of resolving to lose weight, make a resolution to love your body. And then share that love (and the power of that resolution) with your family. You'll find the results are much better than weight loss. They include increased health, energy and joy!
Learning to love your body is a lifelong journey, but like all journeys, it starts where you are right now with a few simple steps.
1. Say nice things about your body
If you only change one thing, let it be this: say nice things about your body to yourself and to others. I occasionally visit a personal trainer who measures my body mass index. At the end of every meeting, she sits her clients down and tells us the same thing: "I want you to look at yourself in the mirror every day and tell your body that you love it."
Whatever goals you have for your body, you'll achieve them more quickly if you love your body — and loving your body starts with positive self-talk. As you say nice things about your body, your body will respond positively to the other changes you're making.
Also remember to speak positively about your body around your kids. Kids' body images are based largely on what they hear their parents say about their own bodies.
The media and people all around us send a flood of messages that thinner is better. This is simply not true. Healthier is better. As you make choices about food, exercise and clothing, avoid asking yourself, "Will this make me look fat?" and instead ask, "Will this make me healthy?" This simple change helps your mind and body work together to avoid disease, feel great and make healthy choices.
3. Get up and move
Bodies are designed to move, and everything works better when it does what it was designed to do. Start looking for ways to move more and you'll see that there are opportunities everywhere. Park at the far end of the parking lot. Take the stairs. Stretch for 5 minutes before getting in the shower. Try a yoga video (free on YouTube). Take a workout class. Find something that sparks your interest that you can incorporate into your daily routine and then do it.
Be careful not to over exercise. The goal is to be healthy and active, not necessarily to lose weight. The more you move, the better your heart, lungs, digestive tract, muscles and joints will function and feel. And the better your body feels, the more you will love your body.
4. Exercise with a friend
Staying motivated to move can be difficult. Find a work out buddy — someone who will show up on your doorstep in her sweats and remind you to grab your running shoes and get out the door. Take time to be social while moving and you'll reap multiple benefits, including reducing your risk of dementia and other disorders. As you get moving together, remember to avoid discussion about "losing weight" and to focus instead on being healthy.
Rather than focusing on eating less junk food, focus on eating more fruits and vegetables. This focus is not only more positive, it's also more successful. Try mixing up a smoothie for breakfast, grabbing an apple for lunch or adding carrots or zucchini to your spaghetti sauce for dinner.
Increasing the number of fruits and vegetables you eat each day will put nutrients in your cells, helping you feel healthier and happier. It may also decrease) your chances heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. Show love for your body by giving it the nutrients it needs.
As you follow these five simple steps, you'll find yourself feeling healthier and happier about your body. Share that love with those around you by avoiding overemphasis on weight and instead focusing on health, energy, and joy.