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'New Year’s resolutions are based on the notion of guilt. I don’t see the point'

Let’s face it New Year’s resolutions aren’t about wellness. Why begin every New Year on a downer and with a creeping sense of failure?

WHETHER IT’S GIVING up smoking, clean eating or committing to that fluffiest of notions of “being a better human” the first of January (okay the second, because only the truly masochistic starts a diet when they’re hunched over the toilet) acts as a natural starting point for the turning over of a new leaf.

But why begin every New Year on a downer and with a creeping sense of failure?

Yes, it’s that time of year again when you make that same pointless list of resolutions you make every year. You post it on your Facebook page and your cousin “likes” it and two workmates add inane comments: “You can do it!”.

With the flip-flapping of the calendar comes your foolish notion that you’re suddenly going to have the fortitude to do all the stuff you’ve never in your life been able to do and possibly shouldn’t. Be nicer to your in-laws. Eat more kale. But you and I know that the list isn’t achievable. You’re not going to get up at 6.30 every morning to go to a reformer pilates class. You’re never going to replace your morning cappuccino with bullet proof coffee. So why set yourself up for disappointment?

Getting fit and hitting the gym

Getting fit is probably the most popular resolution and there’s nothing wrong with striving for fitness. It feels great. But don’t bankrupt yourself on expensive gym memberships that you’re never going to use and then feel all remorseful for never using your membership. That’s just not helpful. If you’re somebody that enjoys going to the gym then that’s great. If you don’t, just try walking a bit more.

Come January and the lights on our Christmas trees have stopped twinkling six unfortunate people on RTE’s Operation Transformation will be squeezing themselves into revealing black lycra and rolling giant logs uphill. Those on juice diets will sit permanently on the toilet.

shutterstock_314959409 Shutterstock / kenary820 Shutterstock / kenary820 / kenary820

The unfortunate individuals on the Dukan diet will gag at the thoughts of chicken breast for breakfast yet again. You see far too many of us reject the scientific wisdom of “eat less, move more” and instead are tricked into punishing, frustrating regimes that are beyond anything resembling common sense.

We seem to have abandoned the middle ground, opting instead for a binary world of supersize versus superskinny, couch potato versus gym bunny. This is especially true of women, a little bit less so of men. Have you seen any normal-sized female celebrities who look like they have normal appetites lately?

Based on a notion of guilt 

New Year’s resolutions are based on the notion of guilt. And I don’t see the point in feeling bad about something that you never really wanted to do in the first place. Self-improvement, or at least the desire for it, is a shared hobby. It’s why so many of us, some estimates say more than 40% of us, make New Year’s resolutions.

But for all the good intentions, only a tiny fraction of us keep our resolutions; research suggests that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.

New Year’s Resolutions enslave us and heap shame and guilt on top of our weary heads for weeks until we either forget them completely or move on to the next pointless crisis.

All resolutions tend to fall away by mid-January causing many of us to sink deeper into feelings of failure and shame as we eat our guilt covered dessert.

Let’s face it New Year’s resolutions aren’t about wellness. They’re about “being good enough”, especially the ones that are centered around food, fitness and body image. They are infected with the belief that, “I’ll only be good enough when I…” or “Somebody will only love me when I…”

So as the dieting and fitness industry prepares to bombard us with its propaganda served up with a large side of guilt, please remember that the phrase “cold turkey” should only refer to St Stephen’s Day sandwich fillings. Stop beating yourself up because you imagine that you’re texting too much instead of being the in present or eating way too many carbs and not spending enough time on the elliptical machine.

Reach out and wrap your arms around 2016 instead. This year I’m giving up making resolutions and blocking out all that negativity. Instead I’m going to embrace whatever this brand new year throws at me and just be happy with who and what I already am. Because I’m grand actually.

Lorraine Courtney is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter @lorrainecath

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