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A New Year, A New Start

The beginning of a new year is a time for fresh starts. We assess where we’ve been, and where we want to go. We make course changes and adjustments. We resolve to do better.

But too often, new year resolutions are a form of self-flagellation. You’ve put on a few pounds with holiday eating, so you resolve to stick to a diet, go to the gym three times a week, etc. If you tend to soothe emotional pain with food, self-flagellation about weight does not get you where you want to go! Kindness and compassion towards yourself work much better.

When new year resolutions are about "shoulds" – all the things you haven’t been doing but "should" be doing – they just make you feel guilty and bad about yourself. And moreover, they don’t work! Try this instead: resolve to do a better job of taking care of yourself and getting your needs met so you don’t need food Band-Aids in the first place.

You will be amazed at how self-care can reduce emotional eating. Even small improvements can have a big impact.

A Self-Care Survey

Does your partner leave all the dish washing to you? Resolve that in 2009, you will no longer do more than your share of this job! And then plan out how to make it happen.

Do you spend your entire day "doing" for others, and have no time to yourself? Resolve to find a way to make time for yourself, even if it’s just an hour a day. If you have kids, arrange for a neighbor or family member to watch them for an hour or two. You are human; you have needs that matter, too!

Are you not getting enough sleep at night – staying up too late, never feeling fully rested? Resolve that you will give yourself the gift of sleep!

Are you eating junk food all the time, rather than feeding yourself nutritious food, because you just don’t have time to arrange proper meals? Are you eating in a way that you’d never allow your own child to eat? How you feel and how you think is profoundly affected by the quality of the fuel you give your body. Provide yourself with good food to eat!

Here’s a big one… Have you been putting off a dream because you’re scared to take the step? Have you been thinking for years about returning to school or writing a book or some other project? Resolve to believe in yourself! Trust that you can do it! And do it!

In 2009, resolve to be kind to yourself, to nurture yourself, to provide for your own needs as you would for anyone else you loved, and – most of all – resolve to trust yourself. You can be trusted! You can trust yourself to know when and what to eat without a feeding schedule. You can trust yourself to make good decisions in your own behalf in all areas of your life.

Something to Try…

What are your self-affirming resolutions for 2009? Ask yourself these questions before answering:

  1. Do I have enough joy and satisfaction in my life so that eating is not the highpoint of my day?
  2. What new things – people, activities, whatever – can I bring into my life that would bring me joy?
  3. What old things in my life are no longer working for me, no longer making me happy?

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them.

This article was first published in the January 2009 newsletter.

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