Listen in on this fascinating conversation with Joanne Edinberg, a certified Eating Psychology Coach. We focused on the New Year time of the year; however there are some great reminders here, for women especially, that can be helpful any time of the year when they feel pressured to change themselves by our weight-obsessed culture that we have internalized.
We talk about resolutions versus intentions. Resolutions may do more harm than good by causing stress, self-criticism, guilt, and shame. Intentions, on the other hand, can help us compassionately embrace the New Year and lead us to more feelings of gratitude and self-acceptance. Doesn’t that sound better?
Listen to the full podcast episode here.
Here’s an excerpt from our conversation.
Why New Year Resolutions Fail
Joanne: Especially as women, we put so much attention on trying to improve ourselves not just during the New Year but all the time. But we know from the research that they don’t stick to their resolutions and then they feel worse about themselves. I think as women we have plenty of reasons to feel bad about ourselves. Adding one more thing about isn’t helpful. I think there’s another approach to this idea than having more resolutions and more reasons to fail.
Heather: Do you think women feel more pressure around the New Year to try to change themselves in some way and why?
Joanne: Yes, I think women do feel a lot of pressure around this this time of year. I think a lot of it comes from diet and wellness industries and their marketing aimed at women. Especially in January, you might hear about “New Year, New You,” which gives us the notion that we’re broken, there’s something wrong with us, and these programs have the answer. I think it does set up a situation where we try something new and it inevitably fails because these quick fixes don’t work for the long term.
Intention As A Compassionate Alternative
Joanne: I think it is time to take a different approach. Rather than trying to have a new resolution or very specific goals, focus on what are our intentions for ourselves. Focus on how we want to feel rather than what we want to do. Perhaps focusing on our values like being more compassionate, being more kind, having more gratitude, and being more in the present moment. When we turn inward on ourselves can make a difference to help us change more sustainably rather than doing things that may make us feel worse and create self-criticism, judgment, and guilt. How can we shift from self-judgment into self-compassion by focusing on the positive and what’s working well rather than focusing on what we lack?
Heather: I love the idea of intention setting as an alternative to resolutions. The energy of resolution is the idea that there’s something wrong with us. Instead, look at it from the perspective of how I want to feel rather than how I want to look. There’s so much pressure for women to look a certain way and for many of us it’s an unobtainable goal.
New Year’s Resolutions: Bad Timing Coupled with Unrealistic Expectations
Heather: At New Year’s most of us are coming into our winter bodies when we tend to gain a little weight. The timing of New Year’s resolutions may make us look at ourselves critically because our bodies have changed, but we haven’t. Ayurveda sees this as a natural occurrence so to criticize ourselves can be seen as unkind.
Heather: And we get mixed messages, too. We’re told to enjoy the holidays and then after there’s this guilt and shame about how much we enjoyed the holidays. We’re expected to repent. Do you want to say anything else about that?
Joanne: Yes, indeed, we’re not static beings. We change all the time. To expect that we’re going to be the same all the time doesn’t make sense but we’re expected for that to be the case. Things ebb and flow. Not just with the seasons but with the times of our lives as well: from teens to child-bearing, menopause, etc. We’re expected to be the same as when we were 20. All the marketing for diet programs supports these expectations even though it doesn’t make any sense. It’s just not realistic at all. Have grace around the fact that we are meant to change and need to love ourselves from the inside out. That doesn’t come from the way we look anyway. This is why focusing on how we feel is so important.
New Year’s Diet & Exercise Regimes May Cause More Stress
Joanne: I think what we really want is to feel better and we think the diet and exercise strategies are what’s going to get us there. In reality, we already have what we need to feel good. So I like to focus on the things that help you feel that way, that put you in a high-frequency, relaxation place. We can only heal or metabolize or digest or lose weight when we’re in a relaxed state. Find the things that make you feel happy, nourished, grateful, etc. Those are the things that are going to give you that feeling that we’re looking for.
Joanne: Stress is the opposite state when we can’t digest heal or metabolize well and we don’t feel good. These goals or resolutions can be very stressful especially when we’re not doing what we’ve committed to. This is why resolutions often backfire. Then we can feel more stressed and more guilt and shame and that’s not going to help us get to our ultimate goals.
Postscript: Research Says That Holiday Weight Gain Is A Big Fat Lie
As a postscript, I thought it was important to note here that current research does not support the reasoning behind the diet and exercise frenzy that happens after the holidays. According to a research review published in the Journal of Obesity, we may gain somewhere between 1 and 2 pounds on average. Whoop-de-doo. This is not at all worth the unkindness that we might aim towards ourselves after the holidays. Another reason to enjoy yourself – within reason. There’s enjoying and then there’s over-indulging. The practice of moderation will come in handy for most of us.
“Life is short and we need to enjoy it,” says Grace Derocha, MBA, a registered dietitian and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. “Food is more than fuel and calories, especially during this time of year. It’s tradition, it’s memories, it’s culture, it’s social connection, it’s family, it’s love. Rather than viewing holiday eating through a lens of denial and saying ‘No,’ I suggest focusing on being present to enjoy what you’re doing, including what you are eating, while trying to make the best choices you can.”https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/holiday-weight-gain-big-fat-lie
That said, there is concern if that weight is allowed to accumulate again and again over the years. Ayurveda supports losing these one or two extra pounds in the springtime during winter’s thaw when it’s naturally easier to release excess weight and shed our winter bodies.
If you want to learn more about that, read my blog post about The Spring Ayurvedic Diet and listen to the podcast episode.
Learn about Joanne Edinberg’s Body Wisdom Nutrition and Transform Your Relationship with Food Coaching Program
Joanne is a certified Eating Psychology Coach with Body Wisdom Nutrition, LLC. She completed her training at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. She has a B.S. in Psychology from Tufts University and a Master’s in Social Work from Boston University. She helps health-conscious women transform from feeling stressed to feeling relaxed about food, weight, and body image so they can focus their time and energy on what truly nourishes them. She coaches clients to find the inner wisdom to transform challenges with weight and body image into powerful opportunities for personal growth. She is on a mission to help women end the quest for the perfect diet and the perfect body.
Learn more about Body Wisdom Nutrition and her Transform Your Relationship with Food coaching program. Sign up for a free consultation for Joanne to learn more about you.
Connect with Joanne
What next? Read my blog post Happy Belly For The Holidays: My Favorite Strategies Inspired by Ayurveda
Remember that you are already a beautiful being!
Heather R. Burkart
Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner
Founder, Her Well Being Ayurveda & Yoga
Please be advised that the content on this website is for education and information purposes only and does not replace advice from a medical professional.