Kelly Neilson, MDA RD LD
Why NOT to Make Weight Loss Your New Year’s Resolution
With 2022 right around the corner, it’s no surprise that you’re seeing more diet ads. This marketing tactic by the $72 billion diet industry goes full force right before the new year and into January annually like clock work.
Diet culture has taken over another holiday, as one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is weight loss. This certainly can trigger you to want to jump on the bandwagon due to the societal pressure to change your body shape or size.
That’s why we’re talking about why NOT to make weight loss your New Year’s resolution.
After the holidays, you do NOT have to “get back on track,” you do NOT have to start a diet, you do NOT have to strictly “eat clean,” and you do NOT have to workout like crazy.
There are plenty of reasons why NOT to make weight loss your New Year’s resolution. Plus, there are non-diet New Year’s resolutions you CAN make that will help you reject diet culture and begin your journey to food and body freedom. Let’s get into it!
Why You Should Rethink Your New Year’s Resolution to Lose Weight
Intentional Weight Loss Is Not Sustainable
The hard truth is that diets do not work. Maybe you’ve had success with weight loss before, so you’re thinking, That’s not true - I’ve been able to lose weight before! Well, yes, temporary weight loss is possible in the short term. However, the long term success rate for diets is very poor.
Did you know that 95% of intentional weight loss efforts fail? The majority of dieters regain weight within one year of dieting and within five years all the weight is regained back. In fact, many people end up regaining more weight than they lost.
There’s close to zero evidence that people can maintain lasting weight loss through dieting. This is because you don’t have as much control over your weight as you think. Your body already has its very own set point weight that’s naturally healthiest for YOU.
If you pursue weight loss as your New Year’s resolution, it’ll be an endless battle of fighting your body’s natural weight. Say NO to dieting and weight loss and YES to accepting that your body knows best!
Dieting and Weight Loss Makes You Feel Worse
It’s common to fantasize that a New Year’s resolution to lose weight will change your life for the better, fix all your problems, and bring you happiness. Unfortunately, it does the opposite.
Weight loss through dieting or any form of restriction can CREATE health problems. When you continuously lose weight and regain weight, called weight cycling, you increase your risk for premature death and heart disease.
Dieting and weight loss is a slippery slope towards disordered eating and eating disorders. You start fixating on food, feeling out of control, and often bingeing. You become disconnected from your body’s natural signals. Food anxiety and feelings of guilt creep in. Plus, you become preoccupied with your body, and body image often worsens.
If everyone knew this about dieting and weight loss, it wouldn’t be the most popular New Year’s resolution!
Weight Does Not Equal Health
Most people pursue weight loss for their New Year’s resolution as a way to achieve ”health,” but the idea that a thinner body equals a healthier body is simply not true. There’s no way to determine a person’s health based on weight and body size!
While weight and health might be associated with one another, weight does NOT cause poor health. To grasp this a little better, think about how smoking causes yellow teeth, and smoking also causes lung cancer. Just because yellow teeth and lung cancer are associated with each other, it doesn’t mean yellow teeth cause lung cancer. The same applies to weight and health.
Behaviors impact your health, not weight. Weight is NOT a behavior.
If you want to positively impact your health as a New Year’s resolution, focus on things like decreasing your stress levels, incorporating a variety of foods into your meals and snacks, getting quality sleep, and joyful movement that feels good.
The Pursuit of Weight Loss Perpetuates Fatphobia and Weight Stigma
With much of our society heavily consumed with diet culture, fatphobia and weight stigma is already a systemic problem.
Fatphobia and weight loss have also become internalized for many people, to the point where a New Year’s resolution to lose weight may become fueled by the belief that weight loss will make a person more valuable or worthy. This is not true. You are worthy regardless of what your body looks like.
When you’re dieting and pursuing weight loss, it not only continues to support the diet industry, but drives the harmful narrative that higher weight bodies are a problem to be fixed. When you say no to weight loss as your New Year’s resolution, you’re combatting fatphobia and weight stigma while also challenging your own conscious or unconscious beliefs.
Non-Diet New Year’s Resolutions
Instead of a New Year’s diet or weight loss goal, make resolutions this year that have nothing to do with changing your body. Instead, make resolutions that help you reject diet culture and heal your relationship with food and your body.
Start a gratitude journal to express thankfulness for your body
Say YES to adventures and experiences, even if negative body image is trying to hold you back
Use non-appearance compliments for yourself and others
Change the way you talk about food, using neutral and non-judgemental language
Focus on creating and using a self-care/coping skills toolbox that you can turn to on tough days
Work on your mental health by reaching out to an eating disorder professional
Throw away your scale, delete calorie tracking apps, and take off fitness watches
Read non-diet books like Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size
Only buy clothes that fit your here-and-now body
Foregoing weight loss as your New Year’s resolution is a HUGE step in your recovery! There’s so much freedom and relief that comes from knowing that you don’t ever have to diet or chase weight loss again. There’s so much more to life than losing weight and this New Year can be filled with growth, healing, and peace for you!
Not sure where to start if you’re giving up weight loss for a New Year’s resolution? Let’s talk! As an eating disorder dietitian, I’d love to work together and help you achieve food and body freedom!