We all do it. We start as little kids, scribbling excitedly with crayons. At the end of the year, we sit down and list the things we want to accomplish or do in the new year. Perhaps you want to visit a National Park or finally go abroad. Perhaps you want to make more time for hobbies and less time for screens.
It’s a tradition to sit and dream up the perfect scenario for the coming year, even if you aren’t the best at sticking to goals. One of the most common goals/resolutions, especially with Americans, is to lose weight. In a day and age where every social media app shows edited and filtered images of beautiful, thin people in beautiful places . . . is that even surprising?
Can you think of a year, or even multiple, where you jotted down “lose X lbs” at the top of your list?
My History of Resolutions to Lose Weight
The first time I wrote this resolution down on my list (and in the #1 spot, no less) was around eighth or ninth grade. I had already been consistently struggling with body image by this point. I was the biggest of my friends. I always felt like a giant next to their skinny frames. Then one of my male friends called me fat. The worst part was that he didn’t even think twice about it.
So each year, in that final week of December, I would declare (to myself, silently) that THIS would be the year I get skinny. I would stock up on magazines like Seventeen and Women’s Health to tear out all the workout plans. I’d make little vision boards with my goal weight cut from colorful paper. One year, I even decorated a jar that would, in theory, be filled with beads to symbolize each pound I’d lose.
The reality of it was that every year, by around early summer, I’d find myself spiraling into a hole of disappointment. Either I wasn’t losing weight fast enough or the numbers on the scale were going up. It didn’t matter how much I rode my bike or how closely I followed that healthy eating meal plan. I’d cry or rage. Then, I’d give up.
Next year, I’d vow.
Next year, I’ll be skinny.
Body Image and New Motherhood
Having a baby and watching my body grow and change did exactly Z E R O favors for my body image. I spent so much time while pregnant watching stretch marks form across my abdomen (joining the ones already streaking across my skin from weight gain in college). I used butters and oils that claimed they’d make stretch marks disappear — spoiler alert, they don’t. I cried over having to buy bigger clothes and bras.
By the end of December 2022, I was five months postpartum. I began seeing the posts about resolutions for the new year, and how great everyone would make 2023. In the haze of postpartum anxiety and the sheer lack of sleep, I managed to simply forget to make any resolutions. We were in survival mode still.
Losing Weight Is NOT My Focus for This Year
This year, the feeling of drowning has lessened enough that I have been able to sit and think about what I want out of 2024 . . .
For once, my first thought wasn’t “God, I want to finally lose weight this year.” Instead, I found myself pulled toward goals and resolutions that focused more on overall happiness. The first thing I wrote down was to find a book club.
It felt weird, choosing for this year to not focus on making my body fit this magical, unattainable mold that society says I need to fit into. Don’t get me wrong, if I could lose some weight, that would be great. I know it would be good for my health both here in the present and for “future me.” I know I’d have more energy to play with my toddler who grows faster every day.
However, I don’t want this fixation with a number on the scale to define the next 365 days of my life. I’d rather focus on things that will make it easier for me to be active. I added going on regular bike rides with my son to that list of goals. My husband and I have vowed to be more mindful of the food we keep in the house. We make so much effort to ensure our son gets food rich in vitamins and nutrients — why shouldn’t we do the same for ourselves?
This year, I’m done obsessing over losing weight. I’m done spiraling every time a piece of clothing doesn’t fit. I’m done wishing I looked like that mom over there. I want to learn how to develop a positive relationship with my body and health so that one day I can model those skills for my son. I want him to grow up loving his body and knowing that taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be scary or all-consuming. I want him to love food and not be afraid of calories or guilt because we had ice cream after dinner.
I hope you accomplish everything you set out to achieve this year, Mama.
Cheers to 2024.