I’ve always hated New Year’s resolutions because I believe these public declarations set us up to fail.
On January 1st, so many of us proclaim, “This is our year of cooking light!” and we’re diligent and disciplined and feeling excellent about our virtuousness. But then we’re three weeks into January and it’s fifteen degrees below zero and the ideaof eating another freaking kale salad makes us want to go all Dick Cheney. So we whip up the beef stew we’ve been dreaming about since January 2nd, and it’s delicious and satisfying and defrosts us in exactly the way we’d hoped. And that would be terrific, except now we feel like, “Welp, 2015’s year of cooking light’s over. Maybe we’ll do 2016 instead.”
Resolutions are a way of addressing regrets without actually verbalizing that which we regret. Resolutions dance around the truth of what bothers us about ourselves. We can resolve to eat healthier, to join a gym, to get in our ten thousand steps a day, to cut out red meat, to count calories, etc. instead of simply being honest and saying:
I am fat.
I would like to be less fat.
The problem with making a weight loss resolution is that unless we figure out and fix what’s making us fat in the first place, we’re destined to fail. We have to address the disease, and not just treat the symptoms.
Wait, I probably shouldn’t say “we” here as others’ mileage may vary. So I’ll make this more personal.
For me, cake itself wasn’t what was making me fat.
My thought process that, “Yes, I should eat this cake, all this cake, as much cake as I want because I like myself and I want me to have nice things because I work hard and I have earned it. And, after I enjoy my cake, then I will watch ALL THE TELEVISION because I deserve that, too, and it makes me feel better,” has been what’s made me fat.
About a year and a half ago, I started a new project. I wanted to look at my weight from a three hundred and sixty degree perspective, focusing on every aspect of wellness. I posited that if I addressed all parts of wellness, not just the physical, but also the emotional, the intellectual, the environmental, the spiritual, the occupational, and the social, that I’d drop the excess weight.
Thing is? This notion of embracing all of wellness in order to lose weight, although technically the catalyst for so much positive change in every aspect of my life, was far too myopic to be entertaining.
Eventually, this project morphed into a lighter memoir about living life without being weighted down by regrets, as that’s more of a universal theme. Plenty of people are fine with their weight, but I guarantee everyone struggles with something, especially those of us moving into their second act in life.
My new memoir I REGRET NOTHING (released May 5th) is a fun look at how I moved past that which was keeping me stuck and answers the question, “If not now, then when?”
(Spoiler alert: the answer is “now.”)
Anyway, instead of focusing the whole book on losing weight, my goal in one chapter was to drop twenty pounds.
And, without once having once stepped into the gym where I’ve been diligently paying dues, I’ve lost FIFTY pounds since August through changing my eating habits and walking the dogs.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t see that coming, either.
Do I eat less cake now?
Do I watch less TV now?
Also yes. But that’s not why I’m now within fifteen pounds of my greatest work of fiction ever, the weight listed on my driver’s license.
Before I ever adjusted my diet or started to move more frequently, I spent a good nine months examining and addressing those aspects of my life that were bringing me down.
Trust me here?
Doing that work was far more difficult than anything a personal trainer could have thrown at me in the gym. But the rewards I’ve reaped thus far are so much more significant than simply having to buy new, smaller pants. (Although this did happen, much to my surprise. I am now forty seven years old and never in this span of five decades have I specifically bought new clothes because my old ones were too big. Never once.)
(I should also mention I’m off my blood pressure meds and am no longer pre-diabetic. Still, smaller pants!)
Because I did the work on the inside, now I’m ready for what’s on the outside, which means I’m kicking the physical aspect into a higher gear. This afternoon, I get weighed in as a participant in my gym’s Biggest Loser program.
I will be standing on a scale in front of a group.
Once a week.
Never thought I’d see the day.
I’ll document the Biggest Loser process here. Since my gym is made up entirely of old people and ripped fitness-moms, I suspect I’ve been recruited for this team because I’m a ringer, which can’t not be hilarious.
And, as the year progresses, I’ll share other #noregretsmoments, as I’m temporarily off of deadline.
So, my advice for anyone looking to lose significant weight in the new year is to NOT spend the first month starving yourself or in the gym every waking hour. Instead, spend January in introspection, in an emotional eating support group, in therapy, in nutritional counseling, etc.
Am I still fat? Yes, but far less so. Which is cool. For me, getting to the root of not only what I was doing wrong, but why I kept doing it was the key. What’s ironic is I still eat whatever I want; I’ve simply changed what it is I want.