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The New Years Eve holiday often brings a mix of emotions from anxiety about social plans and restlessness reflecting over the past year to excitement and hope over a “fresh start” in an approaching new year. I see you and I’m right there with you. Another common siren call that rings loudly this time of year is that of diet culture. Diet companies aggressively push their products, cleanses and one-size fits all plans. All under the guise of “new year, new you” and starting off the new year on the “right foot.” Quick note – there is no “right foot.” If you’re still standing and trying the best you can, especially after this two year pandemic, then that simply is enough. 

Actively going against the “norm” of diet culture this time of year is undoubtedly hard – especially when your family and friends are talking about the diet they plan to try out come January 1 or new fitness regime and “getting healthy.” But resisting the diets and fitness challenges, does not mean you’re not focused on taking care of yourself in the new year! So if you’re the resolution type, here are some prompts for coming up with non-weight related New Years resolutions: 

  1. Make a list of what matters to you

Think about your favorite people, places, hobbies, ways to spend your limited time. In what ways can you grow in these areas? Or spend more time doing these things you love? Reflect on the things that “fill you up” and focus on prioritizing those in the year ahead.

  1. Make a list of what you want to try

Think about things you’ve always wanted to try and haven’t yet. It could be big like a potential new career path or smaller like trying out watercolor painting or joining the local library. When you remove the pressure to make a big “lifestyle change” you can actually enjoy the things you chose to spend your time on. 

  1. Focus on what you can ADD to your life instead of REMOVE

Instead of focusing on shrinking yourself to have less of you in the world (either by removing a food group, limiting calories, etc.) follow the above lists to consider what you can ADD to your life to make it richer and fuller. 

My hope is these three simple prompts will spark a light, something that reminds you to treat yourself with kindness and patience in the year ahead. Life is surprising, heartbreaking, unpredictable, and beautiful. And meant to be lived. Rather than starting off the year with food obsession, exercise fixation and risk factors for an eating disorder, here’s to starting out 2022 with an open heart and curious mind.

By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Therapy for Eating Disorders and Body Image