Make a resolution about you — not media shaming

It’s that time again. No, not quite time for taxes yet. It’s time for resolutions.

Now that all the opportunities for indulging over the holidays have gone, many of us make resolutions to lose weight. Losing weight comes up again and again this time of year, often as No. 1 on lists of most common resolutions.

Maybe you, dear reader, like me, could stand to lose a few pounds. Is it the years themselves that do it, or the years of certain eating habits? I do know that I’ve never met a chocolate chip cookie I didn’t like.

But there are so many things out there working against us. Take magazines, for instance, and women’s magazines in particular. Go to any newsstand, and you’ll see numerous magazines showing unattainable youth and beauty, weight-loss plans and cake recipes, often all on the same cover.

Recently I saw one magazine cover that caused me to laugh right out loud: “Drop 184 lbs. Just By Nixing Wheat,” it promised. Never mind that most of us would vanish if that were true, or at least be reduced to the size of babies or toddlers. Either that, or this magazine is targeting a very specific demographic.

Cookies are usually made with wheat, right? Finally, proof that they ARE necessary to my existence. I could disappear otherwise.

But losing weight for purposes of getting healthier is probably a good thing. To that end, I’m trying to eat more fruits and vegetables in the hope that they’ll crowd out the sweets.

And I’ve started a yoga class. Our instructor said something interesting in relation to the mirrors that line the room. She said, “Use the mirrors to check your position, not as a weapon against yourself.” Magazines, TV commercials and mirrors: Don’t they all invite us to feel bad about ourselves, and therefore do things we don’t want to do, or maybe buy something we can’t afford?

It has me thinking that maybe the underlying reason so many of us fall down on our resolutions is that they’re made in a spirit of self-condemnation or out of a sense of lack. If I have to feel bad about myself to lose weight, of course something within me is going to fight back. Instead, somehow I have to convince myself that carrot juice is a form of self-nurturing. It is, it is! Repeat 10 times.

In an article about why so many people fail to keep their resolutions, John Tierney of The New York Times wrote, “They’ll start out with the best of intentions, but the worst of strategies.” It seems to me, then, that we need to translate our resolutions into strategies, with the underlying goal of feeling even better, not less bad. There’s a big difference.

So whatever your goals may be, let me just say I’m sure that you’re great the way you are, and if you want to be even better, more power to you. Happy 2014!

Catherine Forte, a former reader columnist, lives in Lakewood with her husband and son, plus two fat indoor cats that have no plans to lose any weight at all this year.