A new year can mean a new beginning and a fresh start! However, a new year can be combined with pressure to create resolutions revolving around diet culture. It might be easy to think that resolutions that are about losing weight are healthy and the right choice for everyone. Yet, because of society’s idea of what “healthy” looks like on a person and what “healthy” food is, resolutions around dieting can be misleading and harmful.

When considering setting weight-based resolutions in order to be healthy, we first have to ask ourselves: what does it mean to be “healthy”? If we are talking about starting a healthier lifestyle in the new year, should we not be focusing our goals on improving access to and availability of healthcare? Being healthier in the new year should be more than just maintaining a certain weight or looking a certain way–it should also include taking care of all aspects of ourselves, not just the physical. For example, being healthier could also mean: getting a full eight hours of sleep most nights; walking outside 30 minutes a day to get natural sunlight and fresh air; trying a new activity once a month that brings you joy; or starting a new TV show to help you prioritize rest.

Some tips if you feel like your resolution is working against you:

Just because there is a feeling of having to start fresh in the new year, does not mean you have to make a resolution or change. Sometimes, trying to make a change you are not ready for can be more harmful than not making a change at all (Moniuszko, 2022). Resolutions should not be about checking off a box or hitting a certain weight. Instead, they should be about setting a realistic goal that brings about personal growth. For instance, setting a goal to reach out to a friend when you are stressed instead of trying to figure out the hard times alone. Instead of creating a resolution, we suggest setting an intention, which is planning on following through with an action. For example, instead of having a resolution to be healthier, you could set the intention to exercise three days a week. Alternatively, you could focus on what you like about yourself and are grateful for in this new year. Remember, you do not have to wait for the new year to make a change in your life nor do you have to feel pressured into changing anything at all! We are all wonderful just the way we are.

Written by: Taylor Noem

Taylor is a final-year MSW student and UNC-Chapel Hill, and this is her first year working in the Living F.R.E.E. Lab.


Moniuszko, S. M. (2022, January 1). Rethink your resolutions for the New Year by making intentions instead. USA Today. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/health-wellness/2021/12/21/new-years-resolutions-can-full-pressure-try-making-intentions/8906614002/

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