Why New Year’s Resolutions Are Bad for Your Health

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..." and a lot like that time of year when we tend to over-indulge in, well, all the things.

It is what it is; although we may resolve not to over do it during the holiday season, more often than not it's what happens.

And that's when you *might* be tempted to set a New Year's Resolution around losing weight or getting in better shape once the clock strikes midnight.

Don't.

I'm here to tell you not to set a New Year's Resolution, and especially not one based around your health.

Before I give you my reasons, let's begin with some statistics, shall we?

According to USA Today, the top three New Year's Resolutions this year were:
  • Exercise More
  • Eat Healthier
  • Lose Weight
But according to Time Magazine, among the Top 10 Most Commonly Broken New Year's Resolution were:
  • Lose Weight and Get Fit
  • Eat Healthier and Diet
And according to Become, the #1 most broken New Year's Resolution this year was... (drum roll please....):

LOSE WEIGHT / EXERCISE MORE!!!

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

To add insult to injury, Business Insider says that nearly 80% of people who make a New Year's resolution drop it by January 19th.

(What the....?! That's not even three weeks!)

Those are outstandingly bad statistics; anything with an 80% failure rate is...well really isn't working. At all.

That's why I'm here to convince you not to set a New Year's Health Resolution: because based on statistics, you're setting yourself up for disappointment and I don't want that for you.

"But this time will be different! I know it will! I really am going to change all of my bad habits overnight. When the clock strikes twelve, I'll be a different person - POOF - just like Cinderella!"

Listen, I wish the best for you - may the odds be ever in your favour and all that - but statistically speaking they aren't.

The Odds Are Not in Your Favour. Photo by Riho Kroll on Unsplash

Here's the play-by-play of a typical New Year's Health Resolution:
  • Because it's the New Year and you want a fresh start, you commit to making a change. If not now, then when, right?
  • You totally over-commit, taking on a big goal with a short timeline that involves drastic adjustments to your daily habits. Of course you can change your entire life on a dime!
  • You convince yourself that perfect adherence to the diet / exercise plan is absolutely realistic. You never have a bad day!
  • Right before the New Year, you move in the opposite direction of your goal - a pre-rebellion, if you will:
    • If you committed to an exercise plan, you turn into a sloth and basically refuse to move;
    • If you committed to a diet, you start violently bingeing on all of the foods that are soon to be forbidden;
    • If you committed to quit drinking, you turn into a lush and down absolutely anything boozy.
Photo by Aleisha Kalina on Unsplash
  • The New Year arrives! This is it, you and your life will now be perfect. You start out strong; the first handful of days are good. You're motivated, you got this!
  • Somewhere between the first and second week, motivation begins to lag. You get tired / hungry / desperate for a glass of wine... But you're determined.
  • By the start of the third week, all motivation is gone. This feels like a punishment and you don't remember why you committed to this thing in the first place. You talk yourself into relaxing just *a bit* with your commitment. You skip the workout / eat the cookie / have the wine.
  • It's week four, and you're in full rebellion; if you're lucky, you're back to your old habits, but more likely - after the period of intense restriction - you rebound and go hard in the opposite direction. You're full on bingeing and not moving at all; you feel like crap but you're not ready to go back to the extreme plan you had committed to.
  • Well...there's always next year.
Sloth Life. Photo by Adrián Valverde on Unsplash

What happened?

You gave a really hard push, tried to be perfect, and then you failed because you were pushing too hard and perfection isn't a realistic goal.

This whole cycle erodes your sense of self because you failed to follow-through on a commitment to yourself.

That failure can lead to a "fuck-it" mindset where you end up bingeing and overindulging even more than you did during the holiday season; you're now FURTHER AWAY from your goal.

SELF-ESTEEM is the result of repeatedly following-through on the promises you make to yourself.

Consistently letting yourself down - for example with overly ambitious goals that you cannot possible hope to achieve - will chip away at your belief in your ability to do hard things.

Meaning you'll be less motivated to try to change because you no longer believe you actually can.

What you don't realize is that this method of change will never work. I call this approach the SHOCK & AWE method. It looks sexy on paper but it isn't realistic because it's too drastic.

What's Your Mountain? Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

Personal Tangent: The SHOCK & AWE method is what most Diet & Exercise plans have in common; I should know because I dieted / failed / binged again and again for 30-years of my life.

The only way I was able to implement lasting change - to quit bingeing and finally stabilize my weight - was through a realistic plan of action. One that didn't begin because of a specific day on the calendar, but because I was sick of my own bullshit and was finally ready to do what it takes to live a different life.

Make a REALISTIC Plan. Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

So just don't do it; don't set yourself up for failure; don't set a New Year's Health Resolution. 

I understand this sounds discouraging, but I want to make it clear that I'm not against you or anyone trying to better themselves.

In fact, it's the opposite; I want everyone to be their best selves and to be able to live their best lives. 

If everyone was happy with themselves, what a peaceful world this would be.

I just know that the SHOCK & AWE method isn't what's going to get you to where you want to go.

Again; if you don't have a realistic plan, then a New Year's Health Resolution will do more harm than good; don't do it.

Now that I've hopefully convinced you, what should you do instead?

So glad you asked.

Leading up and into to the New Year, I'll be releasing regular posts on Changing Habits. I'll outline the reasons why the SHOCK & AWE method doesn't work, and will offer workable options for you to make lasting changes in your life.

Subscribe here to get the post notifications; because every day is a good day to feel your best.

New Year, New Start. Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

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