NYC Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer 5 Tips to Avoid the Resolution Pitfall


When we mark time, whether it be on a birthday or the end of the year, it’s natural to reflect on what we’ve done, what we wished we’d have done, and what we’d like to do differently. The New Year naturally brings out these desires to make changes. And with the market ready to dig their claws in, it’s hard not to fall into the resolution trap. In fact, the number one New Year’s Resolution people make in America is to lose weight.

I was reading a popular gym’s blog that was making an offer for a free month to “get ready for your bikini body.” As a personal trainer and registered dietitian, the only thing I could do when I read that was cringe. As well as being a trainer and nutritionist, I’m a mother and grandmother. It’s hard to navigate the world of body image, but we often look to the outside world as culpable instead of seeing how we play the biggest roles in how our daughters, sons, and grandchildren will grow up feeling about their bodies and others’ bodies.

Our “resolution language” can reduce the world into absolutes for our children. For instance:

  •  “I want a bikini body.” 
    Your child hears, “The only reason to exercise is to look good in a bikini.”
  • “No more carbs.”
    Your child hears, “Some foods are bad. They have to be avoided.”
  • “I’m getting rid of these thighs.”
    Your child hears, “Big thighs are ugly. ”
  • “No close up photos until I get rid of these wrinkles, flabby arms, jowels, age spots etc. etc. etc.”
    Your child hears, “My reflection defines my worth.”

So, let’s change the focus by changing our language and intention. Because what we say sends a strong message. And if we change our intention, our resolutions don’t become quick fixes, instead lifetime habits.

  • “I want to get more exercise because I want to feel healthier and better.”
    Your child hears, “Exercise means health and feeling good.”
  • “I’m going to eat better. I’m going  to eat more vegetables and fruits.”
    Your child hears, “Eating vegetables and fruits is healthier.” (Instead of focusing on the negative, you focus on the positive.)
  • “I want to get toned up so I can hike to the summit of Mount Whitney, run a marathon, do a color run…”
    Your child hears, “Exercise means strength and possibility.”
  • “Cheese!”
    Your child hears, “I am proud to be me. Real beauty can rarely be captured by a camera.”

Resolutions aren’t necessarily all bad. And they don’t have to be exclusive to January 1. Finding time to reflect and set goals is important for everyone. We must, though, be aware of the messages we’re sending to our children when we talk about these goals. Moreover, we must be triple-aware of the messages we send to our children when we don’t stick to them. Less than 10% of people who make resolutions stick to them – that’s a 90% failure rate. So, here’s my recommended resolution list for 2016:

Resolve to make resolutions attainable: If you’ve never run a marathon, don’t know how to swim, and don’t own a bicycle, resolving to do an Iron Man by the end of the year is bound to leave you discouraged by week two of training.

Resolve, always, to focus on health: The end goal should always, always, always be health – not the bikini body or chocolate-bar abs. Make resolutions a family affair (when possible). Eating well can’t be exclusive to Mom and Dad. Everybody in the house can start to eat better, be more active, and find time to make these changes together. Moreover, it can increase family time.

Resolve to be more active: Increment your activity (whether it be walking, jogging, doing yoga, pilates, or line dancing) by half an hour each week until you’ve reached three hours or more of activity per week.

Resolve to cut back: Don’t go cold turkey on your peanut M& Ms. The forbidden is too tempting. Cut back. Instead of eating a bag a day, try for half a bag. If you love sugar in your coffee, try a little less per week until you reach a better, healthier balance.

Resolve to love and respect yourself: Unfortunately, Hollywood and the media present us with a one-fit-for-all image – thin (too thin), or just-right curvy. For men, they see bulk and lean and nothing in between. Most of the world … 99.9% of the world … doesn’t fit in those molds.  When you love yourself, respect yourself, and live healthy, your children see a parent that is so much more than a “hot body.” They see a human being with dreams, goals, and passion.

It’s been a wonderful year sharing time and ideas with you. I wish you a 2016 filled with possibility and health.

Happy New Year!

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