In my eating disorder therapy practice and personal life, I have found something to be true about what we value. We tell people what we value by where we spend our time and energy. When we act apart from our values we are generally pretty miserable. In fact, behaving inconsistently with their values is the biggest source of pain for most of my clients.
You might be wondering what values have to do with New Year’s Resolutions? Over the next few weeks my clients are going to be hearing a lot about resolutions. You will too. Have you noticed anything about resolutions? As I am watching others resolution 2018 plans unfold, I am seeing a lot of social media posts about diets, ads about diets, and hearing a lot of conversations about diets.
We talk the most about the things that we value the most, so we must all value being smaller humans more than anything else. We sure obsess about dieting like it is the most important thing.
Over the past few days I decided to see how often diets, weight loss, health, and fitness came up in conversation. I excluded conversations with my clients and just stuck with people on social media, random people I run into in my daily life, friends, and family. With the exception of four conversations over a three day period, every other conversation I entered into had something to do with dieting at some point.
We talk about this a lot. A LOT. My clients can’t go a day without someone talking about diets or weight loss. Not one single day. Even among friends and family that know they are recovering from an eating disorder. They will go on and on about their keto diets, Whole 30, and whatever other diet trend there is available. Dieting must be super important to us.
You know what is strange though? I have met very few people that would rank being thin as a top life value. Sure, they might say being healthy is important and many of us don’t see the distinction between being thin and being healthy (they are not as synonymous as you would think). We rarely focus on healthy behaviors and instead focus on weight loss. When a person says their diet “isn’t working” they don’t mean the diet isn’t causing them to eat more fruits and vegetables or move their bodies more, they mean “I am not losing weight fast enough.” Which is a pretty good sign that health is not their focus. Many people that are obsessed about health are actually obsessed about being thin or maybe they are obsessed about health but it has been to the exclusion of their mental health.
If you were to sit down now and think about the stuff you would most want people to say about you after you are gone from this earth, I doubt your appearance or weight would even be in the top five. What would be there? Personally I would want people to say the following:
- She was kind to others.
- She lived life fully.
- She taught me something about myself and others.
- She loved her family and friends.
- She read lots of good books.
- She laughed often.
- She was giving with her time and things.
- She always put people first.
That is just to name a few. What would be on your list?
How would your New Year’s Resolutions look if they truly reflected what was valuable to you? Would you still want to make your resolution weight, size, or shape focused?
I think it is time that we show what we value based on what we choose to focus our time and energy on. If we could change this one thing, we would have so much less misery and our life and goals would be more fulfilling.
Misery shows up when you are acting inconsistent to your values.
If you value being kind, be kind to yourself and your body today by nourishing it and not punishing it with a diet.
If you value living life fully, put down your fitspo Instagram scrolling and go do something that makes you feel alive.
If you value teaching others something, start by teaching them to love themselves fully. We could raise a generation of people who don’t hate their bodies by passing body kindness along.
If you value health, build healthful behaviors that are sustainable and enjoyable. Research shows these are the behaviors you are more likely to continue. Read about Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size. Invest in your mental health by having a great self care routine and talking to a therapist. Realize health is fleeting, even for the healthiest of us. Can you imagine how hurtful a health and wellness culture is to someone who can’t achieve health? I can. If our value is being kind, this focus can be unkind to a whole segment of our population.
This year I resolve to base my resolutions on my values, I hope you will too