This week is the four-week mark of New Year resolutions. This is the point when things start to waver if they have not already. This certainly depends on the resolution you set and your relationship around it. Still, it is not uncommon after about three to four weeks, things can feel more challenging, or you realize you may be asking too much of yourself.
This is usually not met with too much grace and compassion for oneself. The usual response is that you are failing. It feels like you just do not have the “willpower” you thought that you had. This typically leads to a mental punching match inside of your head, where you are beating yourself up and feeling defeated. This seems especially true when the resolution revolves around food or exercise.
It is not about being mentally tougher to be able to do the diet longer or exercise more or harder until you have lost “x” pounds to reach your goal weight. Or that you have failed to eat healthfully because you ate the slice of pizza. These are just mental barriers that you can easily place to make it feel like you have failed. What if instead of feeling like there is a lack inside of you, you could look at this wavering as data. Data that maybe the goals you set are unsustainable, rather than being about you.
This year, I set a resolution to try to cook more for my family. Like many other moms and dads with kids, I struggle with what to eat more than anything. So, I signed up for a meal delivery that would send me all the ingredients, and I would just cook. I set the goal to cook four times a week (it was lofty😊). Well, I soon realized about two weeks in, that lofty was really unsustainable. With my husband and I running our own businesses and managing four little people’s schedules, I was soon hit to realize that cooking four nights was too much for me. Three is my sweet spot during the week. I am big with having simple “assembly” meals and sandwich nights that just make life easier. It is the same thing a tell my clients when they struggle with the same thing.
Everyone is different. For some of you, cooking for four nights might be easy. It is finding what works for YOU. It is finding what is sustainable. When it comes to dieting and implementing a new exercise routine, this one of the main reasons they fail. The rules, the limitations, the “enjoying life” foods that are cut out- just do not work long term.
If you have made food and exercise a part of your New Year’s resolution and you feel yourself wavering with the “willpower” to continue, ask yourself these questions:
Am I feeling deprived?
Am I still hungry or feeling intense hunger within the day?
Am I thinking about food obsessively throughout my day? (Does food/calories/macros, etc., consume a majority of your thoughts?)
Am I giving my body rest when it is asking for it?
Navigating what sustainability looks like for you may feel difficult, especially if you are a black and white, all or nothing person. This is where the work lies—finding the middle. Your body is continuously giving you data. Can you be curious as to what that data is and what it is trying to tell you?
If you feel hungry and you have intense cravings, it could be a sign you are not giving your body enough food. Suppose food is consuming your thoughts throughout the day. In that case, it could be a sign that you are either not giving your body enough, being too restrictive with what you can have, or having difficulty dealing with difficult emotions without using food. The answer to that would be looking at if what you are following is too restrictive and has too many rules (hint-the answer is yes), or learning how to deal with your emotions in a healthful way such as through journaling, reading, or therapy, rather than going on another diet. If your body is tired, you are likely too hard on it. Can you give it rest? Can you find joyful movement that feels invigorating rather than depleting?
Exploring what works is the ongoing course of YOU. Often, it takes learning what does not work (maybe over and over) to be open to trying a new way to find what does. A way that perhaps you felt you didn’t deserve or were deemed worthy of because it extends more kindness and compassion to yourself. The beauty is, your body already knows what makes it thrive. You just have to set aside the rules and restrictions and shift to a place of loving boundaries, curiosity, and choosing willingness over willfulness. In all that data that you have collected, there is an answer. It just might be a different answer than you expected.