Weight loss isn’t one of my New Year’s Resolutions. We should celebrate our growth of heart and mind this past year and reflect on our next opportunities for growth. And nowhere on this path of growth is weight loss.
It was a busy day of buzzing around and ensuring all of the logistical details were figured out for a big meeting at work. The meeting had gone well and there were several people who came up to me after the meeting and thanked me for the work I do for our organization. I genuinely felt valued. I also felt that I was contributing to incredible work and a good cause. I was flying high after the meeting. A simple conversation brought it all to a screeching halt.
“Alice, are you having another baby?”
The person who asked was genuinely excited for me. I was genuinely ready to vomit.
It wasn’t the first time my body and the possibility of a pregnancy was the center of small talk. Yet, each time it happens I feel knocked off my footing. The confidence and elation that I held just minutes earlier sputtered out of my body like air in a deflated balloon. Usually, after these body interrogations, I shrink away; I have no words to even respond. Yet in this moment, words came to me, “No, it’s just residual baby.”
It was one of the first times that I had a body interrogation that I didn’t leave the situation playing it over and over again in my mind, unable to move forward, and most importantly, I didn’t feel awful about myself. Years ago, this situation would have weighed greatly on me. I would have sunken into a depression about my body, I would have decided to lose weight, and I would pledge to never wear the clothes I wore that day because they too were likely to blame for my appearance.
This most recent interaction didn’t send me into a tailspin of sadness about who I am. I didn’t let one person’s comments bring me down. In the quick moment it happened, I forgave her ignorance. Talking about each other’s bodies is inappropriate small talk. She hasn’t learned that lesson yet. And I will not let her ignorance steal away a moment of my confidence or happiness. I won’t carry her comment and my sadness like a heavy bag on my back, I let it go, right in the moment.
I share this story because I know a New Year brings an onset of resolutions, it can be a very difficult time, especially for those of us who struggle with body confidence. There are so many messages surrounding us about weight loss, weight loss competitions, elimination diets, and that our bodies as they are, simply aren’t good enough.
For more years than I can remember, I put weight loss on my New Year’s resolutions. I genuinely believed that I would be a happier person if I lost weight. Much of that theory was connected to the fact that I tied so much of my worth to my looks and weight. I spent my young adult life railing against the body I was given in any manner possible and I was never truly happy.
As an adult, I unsubscribed to those unhealthy methods. I eventually learned to accept my body in motherhood. It took me time to get here. I exercise for strength in my mind and body. I meal plan every week, making healthy meals for my family and myself. I buy clothes that fit me and make me feel comfortable, and I get rid of the clothes that make me feel otherwise. I participate in events and activities regardless of my weight, because life is short and my kids will remember my actions, not my size. And I do have set-backs. I’m not perfect. I do, however, know I am so much more than the size clothes, the number on the scale, or any assessment or assumptions other people make about my body.
Weight loss isn’t one of my New Year’s Resolutions.
Losing weight or gaining weight doesn’t change who I am and believing it does, sends me on a chase for something I’ll never catch. I’m not a better person when I weigh less. I am who I am now, not because of a scale number or the size in my clothes, I am who I am because of the time I invest in being the person I am on the inside, in my both my heart and mind, and with my words and actions.
I Plan to Gain in the New Year
What if instead of focusing each New Year on weight loss, we thought about how much we gained in our heart and mind in the last year?
What if each New Year, we thought about how much we hope to gain and develop in our heart and mind?
What if we stopped being so consumed by weight loss and used that time to better our heart and mind? What would we gain?
This past year, my focus was not on weight loss and I think about the many areas in which I gained. My resolution last year was to breathe new life into my own motherhood. I went back and read that post and was excited to see that the simple resolutions I held for myself last year were honored. I thought it would be helpful for me to write down five gains I’ve made in the last year, and five areas I resolve to gain in during this upcoming year.
The Five Gains I’ve Made This Past Year
- I gained the knowledge that I need exercise for the strength of body and mind. When I have felt my most overwhelmed this year, I turned to physical exercise. I found out I love spin class, riding my bike, and I’ve gained strength and endurance.
- I’ve gained experiences and lessons in the books I read this year. I’ve learned that reading is an essential piece for me in self-care and in being a more loving and empathetic person. I have to take this time for reading which means shutting off the television and social media.
- I’ve gained financial knowledge by seeking out information and advice in an area I wasn’t familiar. I was embarrassed by my inadequacy but confronted it head on and started a new path to saving for vacations, budgeting for meals, and paying off debt.
- I’ve gained the responsibility to forgive family members and people who have hurt me, I’ve released the baggage I used to love carrying. I’ve gained the ability to move on much faster than I ever used to, even with people who ask me if I’m pregnant.
- I’ve gained the ability to prioritize self-care and take time to drink hot coffee, spend quality time with my friends, go on bike rides, and buy myself really fantastic lotions and body sprays.
The Five Gains I Hope to Make In the Year Ahead
- I’d like to start consistently doing gratitude journaling and gain a better appreciation for my life. I’m so sporadic with journaling right now and I feel like it would really help me if I could be more consistent with the practice of reminding myself each day about my blessings. There was a great article shared by the OptionB organization (I highly recommend the book, too) about gratitude journaling. They recommend writing down moments of joy, things, people, and actions you find as blessings in your life, and celebrating accomplishments.
- I would like to gain the knowledge of how to meditate. My mind is always buzzing and rarely do I stop to just be at peace in a calm moment. I’m going to seek out more information about getting into meditating and making this a regular practice.
- I want to gain more opportunities for physical fitness that bring me joy. I’d like to continue attending spin class and this year I hope to swim laps and attend yoga more or even find another class I might enjoy. I also really love riding my bike and as soon as the snow melts, I hope to make biking a priority, even if it’s a simple spin around the neighborhood.
- I want to gain more playtime with my kids. I get really consumed with the daily logistics and often don’t prioritize stopping and playing. Even when I set up an activity, I’ll find myself tidying up and I want to get back to giving them concentrated time with me.
- I want to gain the ability to be better at showing up for people, both in my community and for people who I know who are hurting and could use kindness.
The New Year is a time to celebrate and also reflect. We should celebrate our growth this past year and reflect on our next opportunities for growth. And nowhere on this path of growth for me is how much I weigh or how much weight I lost.
I wish you a year ahead in which you can savor and celebrate who you are and are given the strength and ability to make the changes you wish to see in your heart and mind in this year ahead.
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Photos by Sarah Hudson Photography.