Instead of New Year's Resolutions, Try New Year's Intentions

by Melissa Kirsch
Originally Published: 

The wait for the elliptical trainers at the gym in January is a joke. Which is why I no longer resolve to go to the gym anymore. There’s something so lemming-like about making resolutions with everyone else. If I know they are going to be back to eating their feelings in front of HBOGo by February, what makes me think I am going to be any different?

Several years ago I researched why resolutions are so hard to keep for Ladies’ Home Journal. The best advice I found is from life coach Marian Baker, author of Wake Up Inspired: Fuel Healthier Success and Love the Life You’re Meant to Lead. Baker says “we’re conditioned to declare resolutions about something that’s ‘wrong’ or ‘needs to be fixed’ …resolutions often emanate from judging, critical energy and a dollop of guilt.” So many of our resolutions are around transforming our bodies—and we use criticism and guilt as clubs with which to prod our bodies into submission. Why are we so terrible to ourselves?

Baker is a fan New Year’s intentions over resolutions. So instead of “I am going to go to barre class every other day and on the days that I don’t go to barre class I will run three miles” (not that I have ever tried to resolve that—no, not me), what about “I intend to move my body more because it feels kind of great to dance or run or go for a brisk walk”? And then try not to flagellate yourself when you fall off the wagon, as we all inevitably will. We make intentions instead of resolutions because it’s much easier to happily keep our word to the person in our heads who wants the best for us, rather than to the mind’s endlessly torturing drill sergeant.

Which brings me to really the only resolution worth making: Be nicer to yourself. That’s it. I promise to try if you do.

P.S.: If you need a reason to quit the gym, I have two good ones for you: The Fitbit and Jillian Michaels. Add MyFitnessPal and you’ve got a fitness plan that actually works. And no wait for the machines at the gym.

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