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Your 2018 Weight Loss Guide Step 6: An Atypical New Year Resolution Could Change How You Look

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
New Year resolution for weight loss

When it comes to losing weight, attitude can make the difference between success and failure. Here’s a recommended atypical New Year resolution that one researcher believes could change how you look at yourself for a healthier and happier you.


One of the top New Years’ resolutions many people make is to lose weight. Unfortunately, it is also one of the top New Year’s resolutions that fails. And when it does we feel miserable--about our body, our life and ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

According to a recent Florida State University news release, FSU psychology professor Pamela Keel's thoughts on the traditional New Year's resolutions is that making a goal of losing weight should not be your primary focus when it comes to your body.

"I think a better resolution, instead of trying to change your body, is to change your attitudes about your body...consider what is really going to make you happier and healthier in 2018: losing 10 pounds or losing harmful attitudes about your body?” Keel asks.

Keel’s point of view is based on a career of studying body-image issues, particularly how they relate to eating disorders. And when it comes to body dissatisfaction in American culture, it’s a pervasive problem--especially among young women.

Professor Keel explains that over the decades in primarily media messaging, the ideal body type has become virtually unattainable for most people. With approximately two-thirds of Americans being overweight or obese today, this vision on how we should look physically, creates a mismatch between reality and the body types seen in ads, TV and the movies.

“There’s a big gap between what we’re shown as being ideal and what to aspire to and where we actually are as a population,” Keel said. “That leaves people feeling bad about themselves, and, unfortunately, feeling bad about your body does not actually motivate a person to pursue healthy behavior.”

To counter this mismatch to help body image-conscious individuals cope more positively, Keel recommends trying some body acceptance strategies. One of which is an intervention program called “The Body Project” developed by Eric Stice, Senior Research Scientist at the Oregon Research Institute, and Professor Carolyn Becker at Trinity University in Texas, that was designed to reduce the risk of eating disorders and poor body image.

One exercise called “mirror-exposure” has a person stand in front of a full-length mirror in little or no clothing and identify specific body traits that he or she identifies as “good,” but not necessarily having to do with aesthetics, function is just as relevant—if not more so when you get below the surface of the skin and the issue at hand.

“You would say, ‘I really appreciate the way my legs take me wherever I need to go,’” Keel said. “‘Every day without fail, they get me out of bed, to the car, up the stairs and into the office. I don’t have to worry about walking.’ It can be that kind of functional appreciation of what your body does for you.”

“You can even go for higher risk body parts,” Keel said. “Rather than looking at yourself and saying, ‘I hate my gut,’ you could say, ‘I really like the shape of my legs.’ If there is something about you that you like, the idea is to spend time focusing on it.”

According to the news release, the goal behind a strategy such as this is to focus on the positive to help individuals transform how they view themselves and their bodies using a basic psychological principles of cognitive dissonance theory: Do the opposite of a negative attitude. When actions oppose the internal mindset, Keel said, the easiest way to resolve that psychological clash is to change the attitude.

“If you make yourself consistently behave outwardly in a way that reinforces appreciation and acceptance of your body, then those actions will eventually get you to a point where you actually do feel that way about your body,” Keel said.

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Another exercise encourages people struggling with body acceptance to think about specific activities they avoid, such as not going swimming in the summer or not wearing shorts when it’s hot, and then choosing to go out and do them.

“Most people experience a sense of freedom when they realize that nothing bad will happen if they wear a swimsuit or shorts in public — everyone is completely fine with it. This reinforces body acceptance through experience.”

What This Could Mean for Your Weight

According to professor Keel, research has shown that these strategies do work, and the benefits often go beyond improved body image.

“It turns out that discarding those unattainable body ideals also improves your mood, self-esteem, reduces disordered eating behaviors and may reduce the risk of self-injurious behavior,” Keel said. “All sorts of things get better as a result of feeling better about your body.”

“When people feel good about their bodies, they are more likely to take better care of themselves rather than treating their bodies like an enemy, or even worse, an object,” Keel said. “That’s a powerful reason to rethink the kind of New Year’s resolutions we make for 2018.”

And Finally…

Accepting your body for what it is, is sound advice, but it does not imply that we should just give up and not be proactive in doing what we can to achieve good health. So along with an atypical New Year resolution that could change how you look at yourself in the mirror and within, why not add on these simple non-judgmental steps for easy weight loss and a healthier body for you to accept:

Your 2018 Weight Loss Guide Step 1: First Things First

Your 2018 Weight Loss Guide Step 2: The Most Important Change is the Easiest

Your 2018 Weight Loss Guide Step 3: Clean Up Your Plate

Your 2018 Weight Loss Guide Step 4: The Only Weight Loss Exercise You’ll Ever Really Need

Your 2018 Weight Loss Guide Step 5: Your Internal Bathroom Scales

Reference: Florida State University news release “Resolving to have a happier, healthier 2018? Reshape your body attitudes” Dec. 21, 2017
Image Source: Pixabay