The Best New Year’s Resolution I Ever Made

vintage-weight-gain-ad-2A couple years ago as it came time for New Year’s goals, I realized that I had made the same goal every year since I was thirteen—I would lose some weight (five pounds or ten or twenty–depending on the year and how much I hated what the scale said).

It made for a lot of miserable Januarys and a few miserable Decembers since I’d justify eating extra even if I wasn’t hungry because the food was delicious and available. And throughout the year, I’d continue this pattern—as the seasons changed, when big family events occurred, when I started blaming the dryer for shrinking my clothes–until I realized that I was living my life in two speeds: dieting and preparing to diet.

It was so much a part of my life, one that didn’t necessarily make me happy or fulfilled, but something I felt like I had to do.

So, for 2012, I vowed not to diet for a whole year. A year would give me time to really see what happened to my body. If I gained a million pounds, I gave myself permission to reassess at the end of the year. I had lived in one of those gears for so long, I really had no idea what would happen.

The first two weeks of January were awesome. It felt so freeing and strange not to be starving at that time of year.

But, then, I had to really work. The holidays had brought a few extra pounds as they always do, and I wanted those off. But, I wasn’t going to diet anymore or exercise for the sole purpose of loosing weight so I had to work to be ok with that extra weight. I also had to do a few other things…

I quit weighing myself.  In fact, now, I hate to see those numbers at the doctor’s office because it’ll send me into a tailspin for a couple days—just because of a stupid number that’s a good ten pounds more than I thought I wanted to weigh.

I got rid of my skinny clothes. It was time. I could fit into those skinny clothes about 1 month (total) of every year. The rest of the time, I just obsessed about how great it would feel to put them on.

I enjoy food. This is the best part of my resolution. I’m happy when it’s lunch time (it’s my favorite meal of the day because I make exactly what I want because my family is doing their own thing at school and work). I feel relief at nearly every meal when I’m not choosing what I shouldn’t eat but instead eating until I feel full.

With this anti-dieting way of life, I find I’m a couple pounds heavier than I’d like but I don’t get to the anxiety-provoking numbers on my scale anymore. And, I actually have an average weight, not a weight range that spans 15 to 20 pounds. And, all the clothes in my closet fit all. the. time.

One of the most surprising discoveries was how much time I have freed up that was devoted to meal planning and calorie counting. And, I realized that I was also devoting time and emotional energy in dieting. It was no fun.

I’ve found that I’ve been able to fill my life with new projects and ideas that used to be crowded out by my dieting. Sometimes, it’s still work for me. Some evenings I go out with my size 0 and size 2 friends and feel lazy or fat or both, but overall, I feel like I’m starting to develop a better relationship with food and one I hope to pass onto my children.

And, it makes Januarys much more enjoyable.

What’s the best New Year’s Resolution you’ve ever made?


EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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18 Responses

  1. Emily U says:

    Great post, Emily. And where did you find that ad? It shows so well how relative our beauty standards are. I don’t have a best resolution because I don’t make them – I can never keep them so for me they’re just a vehicle for guilt. I prefer to think of “projects” I want to accomplish. And they can’t be quantitative or again, all I see is failure.

    • EmilyCC says:

      I’m very web-savvy, EmilyU. I googled “vintage weight ads.” It’s a search that’s always good for some laughs or a cry, depending on the day.

  2. Em says:

    My best new years resolution was to start saying no. Not to everything all the time, but to start having boundaries. It really helped. I remember one time I was sitting at a rehearsal for a fireside (to be a singer) and the director asked me to go play the organ to accompany someone. I said “I don’t know how to play the organ. I don’t feel comfortable doing that.” He continued to pressure me and I adamantly said no. Our building has a beautiful pipe organ, not one of those little electric jobbies. If someone plays it, you hear. If someone plays it terribly, you really hear it. I can play piano and with enough time and private practice I could pull off an organ piece, but in this case it was just a last minute order the person who knows a keyboard instrument to go do it. He cajoled, and I was adamant. Two days before is not the appropriate time to ask someone to do something like that.

    Moments like that, saying no when I knew saying yes would become a nightmare of anxiety frustration and bitterness were really empowering and made me a lot happier. I also said no to babysitting when it made me uncomfortable. Just because I CAN watch children, does not mean I am obliged to do so when I really don’t want to and don’t know the children in question.

    • Rachel says:

      Once upon a time on my mission I was asked to conduct the music. All of the missionaries in my entire mission were present, as was a General Authority. I similarly told them I did not know how. They told me to try anyway and I foolishly said okay. It did not go well. Your resolution would have served me wonderfully there. 🙂

      I am glad you made it for you. It is a good thing, I think.

    • EmilyCC says:

      Em, I think this needs to be my next New Year’s Resolution! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve embarrassed myself by doing something sub par because I didn’t say, “no.”

  3. spunky says:

    This is wonderful, EmilyCC! Indeed, it is probably the most inspirational weight-related thing I think I have ever read! Thank you!

  4. anon for this says:

    Thanks for sharing that brilliant idea! I’ve had similar dieting resolutions, every year.
    I have to say that my best resolution was made when I was 8 years old: to read the scriptures every day and the standard works through every year. The reason this was the best resolution ever is that I’ve never broken it. And having that constancy and those scriptures in my life, day in and out for thirty years, has directed my studies, my faith, my family, and virtually my entire life. I’m so grateful for that, and its power and guidance throughout my days and decades.

  5. Caroline says:

    I love this post, Emily!

    I do the dieting cycle myself, and this post is inspiring me to rethink my patterns. And that ad is fantastice!

    I’m not a resolution person, but if I were, it would be to be more social. I’m not proactive when it comes to asking people to hang out with me — I tend to wait for others to do the inviting. I need to get over that and put myself out there more.

    • EmilyCC says:

      I’ve made the more social resolution quite often, Caroline. I’ve found the key is getting a good friend who is an extrovert. Then, let her do all the work 🙂

    • Jessawhy says:

      I’m laughing out loud, too. I think the key to being a good extrovert is to find really amazing people and then insist that they hang out with you 😉

  6. Melody says:

    Regardless of relative size, I think a lot of us can relate to this struggle. Especially the holiday eating thing. Arrgghh. Anyway, I love this post.

    My favorite resolution: Wear more bracelets. I’ve kept it for almost a decade.

  7. April says:

    Thank you for this post. Chronic dieting can be very harmful, emotionally and physically. Here is a good book about breaking this cycle:

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