I will keep in mind that the goal of body positivity shouldn’t make me feel pressured. And if it does, then maybe I should go for body neutrality instead.
To be honest, I’ve yet to solidify a New Year’s tradition that feels good deep in my bones.
For most of my life, the holiday was spent at my parents’ house in New England, eating take-out Chinese food and snackable treats, playing board games to pass the time, and then going wild with noisemakers and confetti poppers at midnight. There’s something to be said about that kind of a relatively calm affair.
Last year, having had a god-awful 2014 filled to the brim with too much constant change and not enough self-worth, I spent the night alone, cooking mango fried rice, drinking a bottle of sparkling cider, reading poetry, and journaling. I went to bed at 10 o’clock. Fireworks woke me up. I cried because I was alone.
A couple of other years, I’ve tried various activities — parties, fireworks, adventure — but nothing’s really stuck.
Kind of like resolutions, to be honest.
I long ago gave up that tradition, recognizing that it sets us up for failure — and then disappointment in ourselves. I’ve started being more intentional with my goals, though — year-round, but especially on December 31st. I guess that’s all a resolution is really supposed to be: a goal, an intention. But all of the hype surrounding it creates too much pressure, in my opinion, and so I refuse to use the word.
I still recognize that others need them, though — hold onto them like a beacon of hope, guiding them into the new year with promises of more joy, more prosperity…and more thinness.
And it’s that last one that really irks me: that most people — and especially most women’s — new year’s resolutions center on dieting and weight loss as the key to happiness.
So for those of you who do set resolutions as part of your tradition, and for those of you who are researching the quickest ways to lose such-and-such number of pounds this year, I have a better idea. In fact, I have 50.
50 options for new year’s resolutions that are actually centered on taking care of your body.
1. I will avoid stepping on a scale, because that number tells me nothing about my health or my happiness.
2. In fact, maybe some day this year, I’ll throw my scale out completely (or smash it to bits — which I have to admit looks like fun).
3. OK, OK. I’ll cut up my measuring tape, too — or at least move it to my sewing kit, where it’s actually useful.
4. I’ll eat in ways that feel good to me, noting that sometimes these ways include ice cream.
5. I’ll stop associating my self-worth with how “good” or “healthy” or “raw” or whatever the fuck I ate the day before was.
6. I will remove words like “sinful” and “gluttonous” from my vocabulary, unless I’m actually talking about mistakes of Biblical proportions and not food.
7. I will order dessert when I want to — not because I feel like I have to or because I feel like I can’t.
8. I will remind my friends that they can do the same.
9. I will also try to remind my friends that, damnit, if you’re going to drink soda, it may as well not be “diet” because that shit isn’t particularly healthy for you either, and it has a weird aftertaste. Empty calories be damned.
10. I will never, ever talk negatively about food or bodies (including my own) in front of children — and I won’t let others in my presence do so, either.
11. Instead of using my body as a site for comparison (a la “If you think you look huge, I must be a whale”), I’ll use it as a source of inspiration: “I feel great about my body. You can, too.”
12. I will go through all of my closets and drawers and take out every article of clothing that I keep promising myself I’ll squeeze back into someday — and I’ll donate them to charity.
13. Maybe I’ll even take out every bit of clothing that I just don’t wear and donate it all — because no one needs a closet full of clothes that don’t make them feel awesome.
14. I will only sign up for a gym membership if walking on a treadmill or panting on an elliptical really, truly speaks to me on a spiritual level.
15. Otherwise, I will find ways of moving my body that feel emotionally satisfying to me, beyond the endorphin rush associated with any and all exertion of physical energy.
16. I will listen to my body when it tells me it’s time to rest and recuperate — yes, even if working out is on my to-do list.
17. In fact, I’ll start listening to my body so fully that I’ll even take more mental health days off of work if that’s accessible to me financially.
18. And if it’s not, I can at least attempt to get more sleep — or to try to make sure that the sleep that I do get (I’m looking at you, parents) is more restful.
19. When I catch myself saying negative things about my body, I’ll counteract them with positive messages.
20. I’ll only tell myself positive things that I actually believe. No one benefits from “positive thinking” that’s forced. If all I can say for sure today is that I really, really like the color that my toes are painted, then that’ll be my compliment of the day to me.
21. I’ll cultivate more gratitude toward my body and the ways in which it gets me through the day (hello, lungs! thank you for breathing!)
23. I will prioritize body acceptance, if not full-out, unconditional body love.
24. (Maybe I’ll try again for full-out, unconditional body love in 2017.)
25. I will stop engaging in media that makes me feel bad about my body. I’ll cancel my subscription to Vogue, stop following that one Tumblr that posts thinspo sometimes, and maybe remove a few beauty bloggers from my Instagram feed.
26. I will not put other people down based on the clothes they wear or the bodies they have.
27. When my friends put other people down based on the clothes they wear or the bodies they have, I’ll speak up.
28. I’ll consider the ways in which social injustices (like sexism and racism, for instance) contribute to narrow beauty standards.
29. I’ll even consider the ways in which those social injustices and narrow beauty standards hurt some people more than others.
30. And I’ll remember my positionality within that when I can, recognizing that this kind of consciousness takes practice.
31. I’ll have sex with the lights on more often (unless I’m trying to pretend that my partner is Lenny Kravitz, in which case, more power to me for the intentional lack of electricity).
32. I’ll explore my body more on my own.
33. Maybe I’ll let others explore my body more, too.
34. I’ll remember to tell my partner(s) how beautiful they are to me. Because everyone needs a reminder sometimes.
35. When someone compliments me, instead of deflecting the comment (“Psssh, I’m having a terrible hair day!”), I’ll just say, “Thank you.”
36. I’ll wear what I want because I like it.
37. I’ll drink more water. (Who doesn’t need to drink more water?)
38. I’ll let my friends choose what they want to do with their own bodies, but I’ll remind them please not to talk about their diets and fitness plans with me.
39. If it makes me smile, I’ll hang affirmations on my mirrors — maybe just something as simple as “You are enough.”
40. I’ll cook more. Because having a hands-on, healthy relationship with the food that I eat is important.
41. I’ll also eat out more, if that’s accessible to me, because good food, good friends, and good times are worthwhile.
42. I’ll try new ways of taking care of my body — from trying a chiropractor to acupuncture or massage — remembering that many places have sliding scale fees.
43. I’ll begin the process of unlearning the anti-fat bias that has seeped into my consciousness from a cruel and unjust society.
44. I’ll take deep breaths more often.
45. I’ll stop believing that treating myself to fancy new makeup or sweet-smelling new bath products is always a poor use of money.
46. In the summertime, I will buy, wear, and perhaps even flaunt a swimsuit that makes me feel gorgeous and more alive.
47. Perhaps I’ll even leave the towel behind, rather than staying wrapped up and hidden.
48. I’ll make peace with the demons that have grown inside of me over the years, quieting them, at least, into whispers instead of screams.
49. I will remember that my body is a vessel that carries me through this life — and that it deserves my care.
50. And after a year of working on myself, maybe I can pass these ideas onto others, starting a domino effect that can change the world.
Melissa A. Fabello is a sexuality educator, body image and eating disorder activist, and media literacy vlogger based out of Philadelphia. She currently works as a Managing Editor of Everyday Feminism and is a PhD candidate in Human Sexuality Studies. Follow her on Twitter @fyeahmfabello.
This originally appeared on Ravishly. Republished here with permission.