Did you make a New Year's Resolution?
Preface: I am writing this not only as a health care professional, but also as a fellow human. I am right here with you.
Let me start with a couple questions. How many of you made New Year’s resolutions? Now, how many of you have already given up on those resolutions? (Not to be totally depressing, but let’s be honest.)
Why is it thast year after year, we keep making resolutions… only to give up on them by February (or sooner)? To answer that question, I think we need to look at not only the content of our resolutions but also the intention behind them.
If we’re honest, when we make the resolution to, say, lose 20 pounds this year, what’s the actual goal? Do we have a picture of the person we want to look like or an idea of what our lives would look like if we could lose that weight? Do we have an expectation that we would be more successful, admired, confident - even the perfect version of ourselves? I may not always admit it, but a lot of my own resolutions can actually be summed up as “Just stop messing up.”
But, let’s face it; is that even possible? I’ll be the first to admit that I cannot achieve perfection. Even with that head knowledge, that expectation can still rear its head from time to time. Deep down I think it’s God’s goal for me too. The more time I spend in the Bible, however, the more I am coming to understand that God’s goal for me is not perfection; Rather, it is to trust Him enough to do the next right thing.
It isn’t that one cannot lose 20lb this year. It’s that the individual cannot never eat a piece of bread and always workout for 30-60 minutes a day. Even if someone could actually do that for 365 days in a row, what is the first thing that person is going to do after the 365 days are over? Eat an entire loaf of bread (and everything in the pantry) and skip their workout. I know I am generalizing but hopefully you can agree that most of us aren’t going to make sustainable change when our goal (even subconsciously) is perfection. Losing 20lb probably isn’t going to make us feel the way we want to feel anyway - successful, admired, confident. A lot of times if we do end up losing 20lb, we look in the mirror and want to lose more, or want to fix our nose, etc. Changing our appearance is not good at changing our character.
What if, instead, our goal was to determine what our bodies need most this year and choose to provide it. Maybe in order to give your body the necessary nutrients to make energy, you need to aim to eat 8 servings of vegetables a day, so you try to get close to that as often as possible. Maybe the best thing for your achy joints is to move more, so you set an alarm to remember to stand up every hour and drink a glass of water while you’re at it. Another idea for a “resolution” is putting in work to change your self-talk so that you can begin caring for yourself well. Speak truth to yourself. Know what your Creator says about you - the One who knows all your faults and still sees infinite potential (and LOVES the heck out of you) Repeat His words to yourself as close to daily as you can.
What WILL NOT help, is shame. By shame I mean allowing yourself to feel completely destroyed the first time you don’t eat 8 servings of vegetables in a day. Can you instead say to yourself, “What kept me from getting those 8 servings in today? What can I change tomorrow so I can get them in? I have eaten 8 vegetable servings a day several times. I know I can do it again.” Give yourself some grace. God offers it freely. Don’t let arrogance talk you into ridiculous goals that will make you feel completely stupid in a couple weeks. (Again, writing from a place of experience here.) I am totally FOR making resolutions. I love a new year because of it’s potential for change and a fresh start. But, from one human to another, I would recommend rethinking the content and intent of those resolutions. It might take a little introspection, but it will be worth it.
If you are ready to get help figuring out what you body needs this year, give me a call at 406-845-5566 or go to www.illuminate-wellness.org to find out more about a functional medicine consultation.