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Ellie Doering / Gavel Media

The Gavel Guide to New Years Resolutions

Congratulations, you, no we, have finally survived the one month a year where everything seems to revolve around dieting, fitness, and comparing our accomplishments to others. Now don’t feel bad if you have fallen victim to the glamor of a New Year’s Resolution and the relentless pressure of becoming a “better you”, I’ve been there plenty of times. But if a new year is supposed to result in groundbreaking reformations, why do 80% of New Year's Resolutions fail by February? Is this failure rooted in laziness, or is it because of the unrealistic expectations that we hold for ourselves? The tendency to blame ourselves for our inability to stick to our resolutions is not only misplaced blame, it perpetuates a cycle of guilt and shame that affects our self-image.

The logic behind “New Year, New Me” is based entirely on misconceived notions of what constitutes a “healthy lifestyle”. Changes like going on a diet, deciding to go to the gym every day, and losing weight are only beneficial if made for the right reasons. In our capitalist society, oftentimes these changes are created with the intention of fitting into an ideal. The belief that skinnier bodies result in better lives fuels the pressure to make oneself smaller. Because New Year's Resolutions are practically shoved down our throats, it is no surprise that gym membership and diet program sign-ups skyrocket every January. The truth is, most of us will abandon the program we enthusiastically enrolled in by February 1st because of the pressure we place on ourselves to meet unachievable goals. 

The key to defeating the cycle of failed resolutions is realizing that change doesn't happen overnight, and changes don’t need to be drastic to be worthwhile. If you are struggling to maintain a resolution you made this January, you are not alone. It says much more about us as a society than as individuals that most of the resolutions made in the new year fail. At the root of the problem is not our own deficiencies, but the overwhelming pressure to reconstruct our lives. New Year's Resolutions do not have to be daunting. Remember these key mantras and tips for dealing with New Year’s Resolutions: 

Differentiate how you actually want to feel from how you want others to perceive you.

So many of us make the mistake of starting our gym journey thinking about how we want to look rather than how we want to feel. Consider moving past this goal and focusing on overall fitness rather than aesthetics.

Understand and realize that change happens slowly- your journey may not look like everyone else's.

What you see on social media or in passing is not the entirety of someone’s life. Comparing your changes to the changes of others will not help you achieve your goals, they will only taint them.

Don’t push yourself beyond your physical and mental limits. Prioritize rest as much as exercise.

Resting and recovery are just as important as movement is. According to Time Magazine, taking time away from exercising can maximize the benefits of physical activity. The truth is, if your body feels too tired to move one day, then you probably need to give your body a break.

Reflect on why you actually want to make these changes. Are they serving your happiness and your well-being?

The idea of fitting into a smaller body has been idealized in society, however, have you ever stopped to consider what being in a smaller body will actually help you achieve? In twenty years, do you want to remember how much time you focused on being smaller or how much effort you put into prioritizing every aspect of your health?

Be kind to yourself. You aren’t failing if you have slipped up.

We often turn to self-criticism when we fail to reach unrealistic expectations that we hold ourselves to. Instead of blaming yourself, consider why something may have been difficult one day, and try to understand the default patterns and habits you use to cope with hard feelings.

If you didn’t make any changes this January, that is completely valid. The only goal I set for myself in 2024 was to create habits that made me feel good about myself, such as focusing on skincare and setting aside time for things I enjoy. Instead of forcing myself to go to the gym daily or hit a certain amount of protein, I am prioritizing my happiness. As someone who has fallen into the trap of making resolutions year after year, I see how they can do more damage than good. New Year’s Resolutions aren’t the end all, be all. You aren’t restricted to making changes to your life only on January 1st. When you see New Year's as just another day, the pressure and the stress dwindles a bit.

Whether or not you decide to make or stick with a New Year’s Resolution is completely up to you. If you find yourself wanting a change, but not wanting to rewire your entire being, then you can do just that. Here are a few small changes you can take in your daily life that may feel more attainable than a looming New Year's Resolution: 

Focus on movement that makes your body feel good.

Consider walking to class instead of taking the bus, or rent a bike and explore Boston! Movement doesn’t have to happen in a gym to be stimulating and fulfilling.

Take a few minutes of each day to reflect on what went well and what did not.

We easily criticize ourselves about what went wrong in a day, but what about all of the things we accomplish? Remember the things that made you smile today. Reflect on this and repeat the things that made your day better, rather than the things that drained you.

Try to incorporate more colors into your diet.

Just because some foods have more sugar than others does not make them “bad” foods. Focus on increasing your fruit and vegetable intake without cutting the things you love out of your diet.

Prioritize staying hydrated throughout the day.

60% of the human body is made up of water. It is no surprise, therefore, that staying hydrated is important for the everyday functioning of our bodies. Drinking plenty of water daily includes benefits of regulating body temperature, preventing infections, delivering nutrients to cells, and keeping organs functioning properly. Sufficient hydration also improves the quality of sleep, cognition, and mood. Making sure you are drinking enough water is key to feeling better in other aspects of your health.

Try to wake up to your first alarm instead of snoozing them.

While snoozing your alarm may not necessarily be detrimental to your health, it can set the tone for your morning. The New York Times suggests that the sleep in between snooze buttons isn’t very restful sleep, so the benefits of hitting snooze are close to none. Instead of snoozing, try setting your alarm once for when you think you will actually get out of bed.

Remember to take your vitamins!

It is easy to fall out of the habit of taking your vitamins, but this is an easy and almost effortless task you can do every morning to improve your overall health.

Try to be more mindful of your hunger and fullness cues.

Instead of investing in a new diet, try to instead invest in eating to fuel both your mind and your body. Maybe pick up Intuitive Eating a Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach by Tribole and Resch. After learning more about intuitive eating, try practicing it yourself with Tribole’s workbook: The Intuitive Eating Workbook: Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food. 

Focus on getting enough sleep each night.

The recommended hours of sleep each night is between 7-9 hours. However, college students on average only tend to receive 6 ½ hours each night. Especially for college students, sleep is important to rejuvenate both our mental and physical awareness. According to The Washington Post, for every hour of sleep lost off of the average correlates with a .07 GPA drop. By getting enough sleep each night, you are actually prioritizing your academic success.

And last of all…worry less about maintaining New Year's Resolutions and more about simply being present for the things and the people that mean the most to you!   

 

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Self-proclaimed barista with a love for all things reading and writing. If your looking for me on campus, I’m probably wearing crystals.

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