New Resolutions

Happy 2014 everyone! It’s a week into this new year and as usual, I’m seeing all the regular resolutions: “lose weight”, “get in shape”, “get in a new relationship”, “eat less cake”, “be nicer to my sister”.  And while I take no issue with that last one (we could all stand to be a little nicer to our families most likely), the reality is that I think these kinds of resolutions reflect the values in our society and where we as individuals feel we aren’t meeting them. SO many people seem to think they need to lose weight that restaurants simply automatically cater to this mentality-~-I got an email from Panera last week telling me I could lose 5 pounds in 2 weeks if I followed one of their menus or something to that effect.  I have never expressed such an interest and my usual Panera consumption could best be described as carboloading, but I digress.  There’s just an assumption that we could all stand to drop a few pounds and since it’s a new year, that’s the goal we’re all looking at.

Well, I’m not.  And if you are, I respect that, because everyone should do what it takes to feel healthy and comfortable in their body, but please, talk to a nutritionist or your doctor, not the Panera “but this stuff is LESS fattening” menu.  And ask yourself the question: am I doing this for me, or for somebody/everybody else?  If you’re doing it because it’s something YOU need to feel better, that’s one thing; if you’re doing it to attract a guy (or if you’re a guy, to attract a girl), or to make the rest of the world happy, maybe it’s time to ask if that’s a good enough reason to give up things you love and change the way you look.

And if you’re looking to shake up your goals (and I know I am), here are a couple of non-weight goals to consider making a resolution for this new year:

1. Work on your relationship with yourself.

I know there’s a lot of societal pressure to be with a significant other, and that can be immensely frustrating.  From greeting cards to movies, everything we see seems to indicate that if you’re single, there’s something wrong with you, and you should fix that, ASAP. As soon as the holidays are over, it’s full-swing preparation for Valentine’s Day, a holiday I’ve previously expressed irritation with because it in many ways serves to promote certain kinds of relationships over others and make those who are single feel like they’re lacking something.  YOU’RE NOT.  If you’re ready to start dating someone, if the feelings are there, by all means, go for it.  But in the meantime, you can work on a relationship we ALL neglect sometimes: your relationship with yourself.  Take inventory of the things you like and the things you want to try.  Spend a little time alone so you can recharge.  Start jogging or journaling or taking long baths, whatever you need to improve your self-care.  That way, when you try to work on any of your other relationships, you know you’re already taking care of you.

2. Exercise just for the sake of it.

Exercise isn’t JUST a tool for losing weight, it’s a healthy activity in and of itself.  It improves heart health and cardiovascular endurance, and helps preserve range of motion and flexibility.  Working on your core helps prevent certain kinds of back pain by improving your posture and helping to keep you in alignment.  And people who weigh more but work out are less likely to develop certain health complications than thin people who just sit around.  On top of that, exercise produces endorphins, which can improve your mood.  Basically what I’m saying is, going to the gym once or twice a week won’t kill you, and while it may not get you into perfect shape, it could have some benefits worth considering.

3. Do one random act of kindness every week/month.

You know what this world really needs? More small, random acts of kindness.  Stop to help someone cross the street or carry their groceries.  Help your little sister with her homework.  Send a card to an old friend just saying you miss them and think they’re great.  Donate a can of food to a food pantry.  Something.  Anything.  If every person did a few more little acts of kindness, imagine how much happier the world would be.

4. Get involved in a cause you care about.

It’s one thing to say you care about something, and another to get involved and doing something.  Many people resolve to volunteer or give to charity, and those are great resolutions-~-ones worth making a habit of.  If what you have to give is money,that’s great-~-organizations can’t run on dreams alone; and if what you have is time, that’s equally important.  But I don’t just mean volunteering at the senior center twice, or helping out at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving, although those are good things to do.  I mean get involved.  Follow the issue in the news.  Pick one or two organizations and help out once or twice a month.  Talk to your friends about why it matters.  A few weeks ago, I posted a list of charities/causes for people to look at, including everything from suicide prevention to domestic abuse to helping the homeless.  If you didn’t see it then, take a look now.  You can also visit our Living Louder: Opportunities for Activism page for further ideas.

5. Pay more attention to (local) politics.

I know many people are jaded by or disinterested by politics, especially at the federal level, but the reality is that the people in power make the rules you have to live by.  So whether you’re following a few issues that matter to you, like education, women’s rights, or the environment, or you’re looking at the bigger picture of politics in your area, start paying closer attention.  Important decisions are made at the local and especially at the state level, decisions that impact your everyday life.  I’m not even sure who my current state senator is, but I know he/she gets to vote on my ability to access elements of reproductive healthcare and has a say in how my state’s budget is allocated.  Those are important things, and worth learning about.  And the more you know, the better decisions you can make on Election Day.  I don’t want people who stand in opposition to my core values speaking on my behalf.  And if nothing else, make a resolution this year to vote.  Vote on your school budget.  Vote on election day.  Vote based on anything that matters.  Because decisions are made by those who show up, and it’s time for all of us to decide to do just that.

That’s hardly a comprehensive list, of course.  Other ideas would be 6) Find a job you love, not just a job that pays a number you love, 7) Read more (because most of us could always read more), 8) Read at least one classic piece this year, 9) Read the newspaper every day, 8) Invest more in our friendships, because they’re important and they deserve time and attention, or 10) Stop letting men’s rights activists get to you.  Whatever you’ve resolved to do, I wish you the best of luck, and a happy new year.

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~ by Randi Saunders on January 7, 2014.

One Response to “New Resolutions”

  1. I love that GIF! Great post!

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