Why I’m Rejecting My Usual Fitness Resolutions in 2021

Why I’m Rejecting My Usual Fitness Resolutions in 2021

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“I’m going to be here twice a day until I lose this,” said a woman, squeezing her right oblique on the beach in Santa Monica. “It’s just me, my Peloton, and raw food until my boyfriend jeans hang loose again,” said another. “I’m on my way to losing ten LB’s this month after a 5-day celery juice cleanse followed by strict Keto,” one more exclaimed. “Here’s to a new year and a new me!”

These women were all me, every year come January 1, when I would double down on my weight loss and fitness commitments. But it didn’t take a new year’s resolution to keep me striving to be the skinniest, prettiest, and most miserable version of myself. Back in Houston, Texas, I was born this way, with a personal trainer mom who ate appetizers as a main course and a father who was spinning at 5:45 in the morning, five days a week, before Soul Cycle was a thing.

As a 43-year-old recovering bulimic, anorexic, and over-exerciser, I usually struggle at this time of year, trying to dodge the “new year, new you” mania. But in 2021, I’m turning down the volume on the #weightlossgoals in a next-level way after my lingering eating disorder struggles were overshadowed by a dark COVID depression that I fought on the daily. According to a recent study, my case is not unique. Sleep troubles, lethargy, hopelessness, and other symptoms of depression have more than tripled in U.S. adults since the pandemic began.

“Oh fuck, not this again,” became my morning mantra. Constant clenching of my jaw resulted in nagging neck pain—or maybe it was the staring, swiping, and scrolling on screens for 99% of my waking hours. The worst part was the loneliness and isolation that intensified all my other ailments. I knew I was taking a turn for the worse when I ceased texting friends, posting on Instagram, and deleted all dating apps. Why bother? I couldn’t even muster a smile with my morning cup of possibility. There was no possibility.

Gripped by more pressing emotional issues alongside the chaos of 2020, for the very first time in my life body goals suddenly seem trivial and out of touch. New research assures me I’m not alone in my inclination towards externally-focused resolutions instead: more Americans say they’re aspiring to save money for the future (62 percent) or learn a new skill (50 percent) rather than committing to going to the gym or losing weight. Robyn L. Goldberg, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and author of The Eating Disorder Trap, confirms that her clients are “throwing out the resolution rulebook, and shifting from health, diet, and fitness to boundaries, connection, and peace of mind.”

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