I'm a Dietitian & This Is Why I'm Opting Out Of New Year's Resolutions This Year

There are some good reasons to skip on the lofty goals this January.

aa woman holding sparklers with "New Year New You" written in front. "New" of "New You" is crossed out
Photo: Getty Images / Anatartan / Crispin la valiente

Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.

We are solidly into the start of a new year, and that can mean a lot of different things: a return to your routine, a fresh start or renewed motivation. It can also mean being bombarded with "new year, new you" messaging. And while there is nothing wrong with using the new year as a time to set resolutions, this year I am opting out. As a registered dietitian, health and wellness are important to me. But I've found that focusing my energy on New Year's resolutions is not the most productive. Here's why I'm choosing not to make any resolutions this year.

Breaking the cycle

All of us have probably started a new year with an overly ambitious resolution, only to let it fizzle out before January is over. Then, whenever you remember the resolution, it leads to shame or feeling like you have failed. Before we know it, the next new year comes along and we are flooded with messages about how it's the time to make those changes we've been putting off … and so the cycle goes. Instead, this year I'm choosing to save myself the trouble.

Choosing contentment

One big issue I've always had with the idea of "new year, new you" is that it implies that there's something wrong with what you're doing right now. Don't get me wrong, the last two years have presented a consistent stream of unprecedented challenges, and we have all tried to find our own ways to deal with it. It's completely OK if resolutions like reading more or drinking more water are not top-of-mind.

Also, it should be normalized to feel content and happy with where you are. No one is perfect, but you don't need to feel forced to make changes if your lifestyle is working for you. Putting on the pressure that we must look, eat, act or feel a certain way is exactly how diet culture can warp our sense of "normal" and steal our joy. Many of us would be a lot happier and healthier if we stopped constantly wanting to change things about ourselves.

Internal motivation is more sustainable

Lastly, if you do want to make a change, just opening a new calendar isn't going to change much. Instead of external cues like New Year's resolutions, we need internal motivation to make a change and stick with it. This can come at any time of year or season of life, and is different for everyone. Rather than trying to start on a new goal on January 1st and stick with it for a whole year, ask yourself why you want to make the change. If it is something that's important to you and will enrich your life, break out a timeline of actionable smaller steps to help you get there.

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