Setting Body-Positive Health-related Goals for the New Year

The passing of another year (like birthdays, changes of the season), is naturally a time for reflection and thinking about coming year. While there is most definitely an inordinate amount of societal pressure to make health-related New Year’s resolutions, many people value health and want to make choices that support health. If that’s something you’re interested in, here’s a few pointers to creating a resolution that supports your body, instead of punishing or controlling it.

  1. Recognize goals that don’t honor your body’s wisdom or needs. The fitness industry is notorious for helping people quantify their goals. While specific and measurable goals are great for career goals or saving money, when it comes to your body, these usually aren’t realistic. What a healthy body looks like, measures or weighs needs to be up to your body. The health industry makes a lot of money convincing you to do things in the name of your health and that once you’re healthy you’ll look a certain way. That just isn’t true. Health looks different on every body, just take a quick scan from the last Olympics: these folks are at peak physical health and yet, there is a huge range of how that looks. So, first thing to do is ditch any goal that dictates body composition or how your body responds to new habits.
  2. Take time to reflect on what health means to you. When people say health, often they are talking about strictly physical health. Yet health is multifaceted: social, spiritual and emotional/mental health are all equally important to our well-being. Prioritizing physical health over other facets of health is the misleading prerogative of companies that can make money off promises to improve your physical health. However, caring for all components of health is key to well-being. It might be trendy to cut carbs, start juicing or try CrossFit, but take a moment to examine whether those choices feed you mentally, socially, spiritually. Juicing everyday for breakfast sounds glamorous as a Facebook post, but in practice might mean missing out on brunches with friends or is so mentally exhausting to plan for that your overall well being will suffer.
  3. Formulate a balanced approach. For every way you want to challenge yourself, also have a plan for self-care. Where I most often see resolutions go wrong is in the quantification or measurement of their goal. So you want to be more active? Wonderful! Measuring that goals by number of steps, days of the week you’re active, or by becoming a certain size, however, dishonors your body. Instead, try checking in with yourself before and after each activity. Your body is going to need different things depending on a huge host of factors, like how active have you been recently? Do you have any injuries, even small stress injuries? Have you had enough family and friend time? For those with periods, is the current point in your cycle making certain activities uncomfortable? Taking the time to ask what you really need will ensure that an arbitrary resolution doesn’t get in the way of true wellness. Now, that’s a truly body positive approach!

I wish all of you, resolution-setting or not, a happy new year!!


Ani is a fat activist and Health at Every Size promoter. She is currently pursuing a degree in Dietetics and is working towards the creation of a non-profit to support healthy relationships with food. She is also a geek, yogi, knitter, and lives with her partner and two dogs in Minneapolis.