We are in the first week of the new year. What a year 2020 was. Every year there is push back to the idea of “New Year, New You.” But 2020 was the kind of year that has prompted more of this messaging. Lots of advice about being happy with just being. With surviving. Don’t worry about starting a new project or having a new goal. You are enough.
I have always loved the saying “you are enough”. It has helped me on low days. Days when I wasn’t sure if I was. I believe it. I agree that most people don’t need a “New You”. YOU are likely wonderful just as you are. But I don’t think New Year, New You is meant to be literal. It’s meant to inspire reflection if one wishes to reflect. And, if not, carry on without it.
In my case, towards the end of December I was finding some of the “F*ck New Year, New You” laments just as annoying as the push for newness itself.
“New Year, New You” isn’t an inherently bad idea. The problem is with the obnoxious way it pushes drastic changes. No, most people don’t need a “New You”. But, I don’t have a problem with a date on the calendar inspiring self-reflection and manageable, incremental, healthy changes. But then, I do enjoy lots of self-reflection – any time of the year.
I don’t wish to make radical change in any given year. And, for sure, I don’t think the idea that one should revamp everything in their life, because a new year has begun, is good advice. Or practical.
Most of us are well aware of the dangers of diet culture and the ineffectiveness (and unhealthiness) of the feast or famine style of eating. We don’t think it’s helpful to joke about gaining weight during a pandemic or to put too much value on the numbers on scale. We certainly know by now not to impart moral judgements on what we eat. And so it makes sense to push back a bit and offer different perspectives on society’s idea of what is healthy.
With respect to “New Year, New You”, I don’t have a problem with reflection or with the wish for self-improvement. The problem is doing something you don’t want to do. Doing what an advertisement has made you think you need to do. Buying into an all or nothing mentality. Or worse, spending your hard earned dollars on magic potions. Or, feeling pressured to do something you don’t want to do. Often, the images of what is “improved” is faulty also. Fuck ideals of what fit looks like.
No, I prefer it if a person’s self-reflection helps them be confident with what THEY want for themselves. And then planning slow and steady, incremental changes, Which will usually win the day over anything drastic.
The exception to slow and steady for me would be when I quit smoking. I had to just stop. Exercise (mostly running) was a good way to distract myself from the nicotine cravings (after several tries over a few years). But I would not have been able to quit incrementally. I had to stop cold turkey in order to stop the habitual part of smoking. That doesn’t work for everyone but it did for me. And I would say that if someone’s goal this year is to quit smoking – GO FOR IT!
It doesn’t have to be a new year. It could be any old Tuesday. But, if a date on the calendar offers a reason for self-reflection and areas where one might benefit from some tweaking, I don’t hate on that idea. Also, it shouldn’t be EVERY Tuesday.
Many of us have habits that aren’t serving us well at the moment. In my case, I am not snacking as much or eating as much sugar. I am not anti-sugar. If sugar is working for you, enjoy. It wasn’t working for me and I am feeling better with much less of it in our lives.
We have much less alcohol in the house. My husband gave it up in June and I was never a big drinker. But at 48, I was finding that even a couple extra was making me more tired the next day and I don’t enjoy feeling more tired than necessary, so I’m happy now that I have a glass of wine or two every couple months, rather than every week.
Neither of the changes mentioned above were made at the beginning of the year.
I don’t plan on making any drastic changes this year. I think about goals I want for myself throughout the year. The start of the year is just a nice place to re-evaluate, to re-affirm what is important to me.
So the things I plan to focus on this year, as long as I am able (2020 confirmed we don’t always have control over our plans) are:
- Supporting healthy goals by continuing to cook nutritious meals that are satiating.
- Maintaining my exercise schedule (running, cycling, HIIT strength and conditioning) because it keeps me feeling good, mentally and physically.
- Stretching more. I only spend a lot of time stretching when my hips and hamstrings tell me I better “or else”. I need to put stretching in my calendar, in the same way I put other exercise in my calendar.
- Give my best in my studies. I am starting a new course, in a new program at Ryerson University (continuing education) this week. If you look up “procrastinator” in the dictionary, there might be a picture of me doing anything but studying. My goal is to not procrastinate with my new course. Also, I get overwhelmed by the bureaucratic part of University and I would like to be patient with that part of the work.
- Drink more Matcha. I drink a lot of coffee. Good coffee. I love it. But, whereas I used to drink 1 or two big cups a day, some days it’s been 3 or 4 in the pandemic. And, that’s before the nightly decaf ritual. I plan to replace #3 and #4 with matcha. Not only might it be better for me, I think it will make me appreciate and enjoy #1 and #2 more.
The key to all of the above working for me is that I am not a perfectionist. I will do my best. I will probably re-evaluate every couple months. Including other dates on the calendar that remind me to reflect (birthday, Jewish New Year, some Wednesdays…). I will be kind to myself. I support you being kind to yourself too. If saying “New Year, New You” makes you cringe, ignore it. But if you still want to reflect and tweak some habits that aren’t working for you, in all of your glorious self, I say go for it.