2021 has been, well, 2021… (need I say more?). But with December coming to a close, it’s the perfect time to look back, reflect on the past year, and take a look at why you might not need to change too much, or anything, about yourself going into 2022. Not in the traditional sense, anyway.
With nearly a year spent inside, it would make sense if we are feeling a certain way about our body right now. Maybe we’ve gained or lost weight, maybe our relationship with food and our bodies has changed, or maybe our understanding of what ‘healthy’ is has developed. Either way, it is understandable if you want to restart the new year with a ‘fitspo’ goal in mind, but… you don’t have to. Weird, right? A Nutritional Therapist telling you you don’t have to have a weight-based goal for 2022? Well, let me explain.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you’ll know I’m keen on ditching food guilt and diet talk – seen here in my previous post How To Ditch The Food Guilt This Holiday Season, which extends into avoiding new diet trends that will inevitably come our way as January draws near. You know the drill; whether it’s Atkins, Keto or Paleo, the media frenzy that follows is almost impossible to avoid. So with everything around us telling us our bodies are better off smaller, why shouldn’t we believe them?
Well, firstly, the diet industry loves profiting off of our insecurities. Think of all the diet and 12-week fitness plans you’ve stuck up on your wall, only to never complete or regain the weight from because they do not work. A 2018 report found that the average Brit will follow 33 diet fads in their life, spending £454 on trends per year. The cycle of disliking our bodies, buying into a trend, feeling an initial high before hating ourselves again and buying back into it because it doesn’t work can be incredibly difficult to break – mostly because the diet industry tries to lure you back in and make you feel as though there’s something wrong with you when your diet stops working. Which, of course, there is not. These diets are meant to fail so that we buy back in.
Secondly, neither our health nor our worth is defined by our weight. Living in a smaller body is no more of an identifier of someone’s health status than living in a larger body, nor is it any of our concern. If we are living a life free of restriction, where food is not controlling our lives and we are not scared to enjoy meals out with friends or desserts, and this leads to our bodies changing, then so be it! Our health and wellbeing includes our mental health, and experiencing fear around food can leave us feeling anxious and out of control. The constant diet and self-hate cycles are actually worse for our health than weight gain! Being kind to ourselves can go a long way for our wellbeing.
These are just a few reasons why weight-based goals may leave you feeling worse-for-wear after attempting them for the umpteenth time, and why ‘health’ can be so confusing to navigate. Understanding what healthy means to us and how we can improve our relationship with our bodies and food can be a great focus for the new year if you feel let down by the diet industry. Enjoying food mindfully, freeing yourself from restriction and honouring your hunger are just a few ways you can improve your health without spending an extra £454 per year, restarting the cycle and once again hating yourself for another diet fail.
Trusting our bodies can feel wrong and alien to us if we’ve spent years dieting, but it is possible and can lead to a happy, healthful and restriction-free life. So why not try ditching the weight-based goals this year? What goals would genuinely make you happy? How would a positive relationship with food make you feel? If these questions scare you, that’s ok! It’s part of the process and you don’t have to do it alone. My work has a focal point on self acceptance and encourages positive relationships with food, body and mind. If you’d like to explore this more in 2022, contact me and let’s connect.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year, and an amazing 2022!