3 reasons resolving to lose weight is a terrible idea

The first is that it’s not directly under your control.

You can (or at least attempt to) control what you eat and how much you exercise. But you can’t directly control the number you see on the scale.

Studies show that setting goals we think we can control is crucial to success. And, while on the surface, weight loss may seem as simple as calories out being greater than calories in, there’s a lot of things that can confuse the issue. How much stress you’re under. How much sleep you’re getting. Hormonal imbalances. Genetics and other health conditions.

For a lot of different reasons, losing weight can be more complicated than simply exercising more and eating less. And when we don’t see the results we want, it’s easy to get disheartened and lose all motivation.

It’s hard enough to stick to resolutions that you can control. Don’t make it even harder.

The second reason is that losing weight likely isn’t the solution to whatever problem you’re trying to solve. A good resolution should flow from your deepest desires.

Ask yourself what you truly want. Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to feel more confident? To be more energetic, outgoing, or productive? To be happier or more successful?

Because, to be real, losing weight isn’t going to solve any of these problems. And sadly, millions and millions of people are stuck in this all too familiar narrative. Trying to lose 10 pounds so that they can be happier, so they can finally be confident, so they can finally feel good about their bodies.

It’s time to tell a different story by setting a resolution that goes deeper than weight. The weight isn’t at the root of the problem. It’s not the cause. It’s the consequence.

And it’s not your fault. There’s a multi-billion-dollar weight loss industry devoted to making people feel insecure. To convincing everyone we all need to lose weight to be happy, to be loved, to be X. We’re told we’re not our best selves yet. But that we could be, if we lost weight. We’re bombarded with images and messages that tell us this story every single day.

It’s time for it to stop. You don’t need to lose weight to be confident or happy or loved or beautiful. You are beautiful, loved, happy, and confident. You’re amazing.

So instead of focusing on the weight, resolve to do something that will make you happier or more confident, or more whatever it is that you want to be.

Which brings us to the third reason for abandoning this resolution – losing weight is a negative goal.

It’s better to set goals that are positive. People who set positive resolutions are more likely to keep them. So, think about what you want to gain, not what you want to lose.

Maybe that’s strength, or flexibility, or running farther. Maybe it really is about being smaller and wanting to fit into a pair of jeans you haven’t in a while. But even then, focusing on the weight isn’t the best strategy. There’s compelling evidence to suggest that if you really want to fit into an old pair of jeans, and are determined to do it with exercise, that you should focus on gaining strength.

And it’s far more likely that what you’re really after isn’t some elusive number on a scale. It’s to be confident with who you are and to feel better about yourself. And in that case, it’s better to focus on something like mastering a skill. Just like setting positive goals, resolving to master something has been shown to increase people’s chances of sticking to their resolutions.

Plus, when you focus on the positive, like gaining strength or mastering a skill, you’ll hit achievements along the way. When you get to the gym for the third time in a row, you can celebrate. When you increase your speed, you can celebrate. There’s lots of achievements along the way that help build your confidence. That help make you feel proud and accomplished and successful. That give you all the positive feelings you want. The kind of feelings that help you stay on track in the long-run.

Resolving to lose weight isn’t a long-term solution. It’s part of that restrictive diet mentality the weight loss industry has spent millions and millions of dollars ingraining into everyone’s heads. It’s garbage. Throw it out. All it’s doing is setting you up for frustration and failure.

Instead, focus on what’s in your control, on achieving the things you really want to achieve deep down, and on something positive, that will make you feel good and proud and confident. That will make you feel like you should. Every damn day.

Because that’s a resolution you’re going to want to keep.

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