New Years Resolutions can be a great way to create a better you. So then why is it that only 8% of people achieve their resolutions? The most common resolution is to “lose weight”, but I’m going to tell you why this resolution is bullshit and will most likely either result in the total abandonment of a fitness plan, or will not garner the positive emotions you were hoping for when the resolution was set.
It has taken me a lot of years to feel comfortable in my body. This was after a lot of years of hating my body, which lead to a progressive disdain for myself as a whole. My body is objectively different; I’m 6 foot 4 inches tall (1.95 meters), which means I am taller than 98% of the population in the United States. I was also a “chubby” kid, who had a brother that came out of the womb with abdominal definition. I developed an inferiority complex partly because my brother would take the time to point out that I was “different”, but mostly because I gave him that power over me.
In eighth grade I grew nine inches (almost 23 centimeters) in nine months. This was more than just an awkward stage; my body began to mimic cartoonish proportions. I had a brick of a torso with really skinny arms and legs (picture the stick figure drawing from years past and that was a pretty accurate depiction of my body type). And despite being an athlete for the past 11 years, I was never happy with my body. I trained for tennis just as hard as everyone else on my teams, sometimes more because I would run or ride my bike a few miles to practice…so why didn’t I look like everyone else? Why didn’t I have the defined abs? Where was my chiseled chest? Which god do I have to blame for this AFFLICTION!
I’m being melodramatic, but for a time I truly cursed the world for having a body that was seemingly so different. THIS is why body positivity is so important. I know some of you who read this might think you’re a 6’4” 200 pound man what could you possibly know about body dysmorphia? While no, I will never be able to fully understand the extreme pressures that women face to achieve a nearly impossible ideal of beauty, being unhappy with your body is not a solely feminine experience. Body positivity is a necessary skill for every person of every background.
The New Year starts tomorrow. 2017 is your year, right? You’re going to finally lose those 30 pounds! You’re going to be active and healthy and happy all year! This is YOUR YEAR DEBRA! No, Jesus fucking Christ, No. The number one resolution for the New Year is always: I’m going to lose weight. Let me explain to you why this is such a toxic mindset. On a very primal level you’re equating weight with self worth. When you lose weight you’ll be happy because sexy people are always happy right?
I can say from experience that this isn’t the case; at least it wasn’t for me. I’ve always been a big baby man with pretty large swings in weight gain and loss. When I was eighteen I weighed in at 190 pounds and was extremely insecure about my body, to the point where I wouldn’t take my shirt off at the beach. At my heaviest (about 9 months ago) I weighed 245 pounds and was still extremely apprehensive to show off my body, but oddly enough less so than when I was eighteen.
Here’s the lesson: it’s always going to be something, unless you change your mindset. I remember, oh so vividly, thinking in my past I’ll be happy when my skin clears up, or I’ll finally feel confident when I lose weight. And when those things happened, I was perplexed when the feelings I figured I would feel were not felt! I’ve had pretty significant weight loss in the past nine months. Once I started to really see the difference from day to day instead of feeling happy or excited, I still felt those old and oh-so-familiar feelings of body dysmorphia. Even though I was slimming down, I also have had no access to a gym because of my lifestyle as a digital nomad, so I began to see my arms and legs shrink along with the rest of my weight loss. It was this that made me realize that I was always going to be unhappy about something as long as I continued to think this way.
Now I am happier than I have ever been with my body. I feel incredibly sexy, and more important, unapologetic about my body. I’ve started to own my body and set goals for myself that push my strength or stamina rather than my appearance. I tell myself that I want to be able to do 60 pushups by the end of the month, rather than saying I want to have a defined chest. One may lead to the other, but that shouldn’t be the goal. Pride in your physique comes from boundless self-love and appreciation and achieving goals that you set for yourself.
My favorite tool for self-appreciation is to start small, which is something that Bob The Drag Queen taught me. Bob is the winner of Ru Paul’s Drag Race season eight and a FIERCE QUEEN, but when asked about her confidence the response she gave was incredible: “I was not always this confident. I was a little chunky kid, a little effeminate, dark skinned, kids could be really mean to you. When I found out what I was good at, and I really embraced it, people started to like me. Find something about you that you like and focus on it. If I don’t like my face, if I don’t like my skin, if I don’t like my weight, if I think to myself ‘I have nice teeth.’ It may start with just one tooth. Look at that tooth! That’s a nice tooth, man. Once you can accept that one little thing about yourself, you can accept YOU for who you are.” This became an incredibly powerful tool for me, every morning I would look at myself and appreciate the things that I was proud of or that made me feel confident. That confidence has spread to nearly every part of me, I can now walk around and finally feel so happy to be the towering man that I’ve always been, its just taken me a number of years to own it.
So in this New Year have your resolution read a little more like: I will learn to love my body. Learn to love yourself, and you will control the world.
Much love & many adventures