Whenever January 1 rolls around, making New Year’s resolutions just seems like the right thing to do.
But the truth is, New Year’s resolutions just don’t work. A majority of resolutions fail — and when it comes to your health, trying to make huge, dramatic changes can actually set you up for failure. And this isn’t just true in January — it applies to any time of the year.
What could work for you this year is rejecting cultural forces and changing your mindset. Find new rules to live by, altering the way you think of yourself and your health.
Or, in other words, make promises to yourself about things you’re not going to do in 2019 — and enjoy happier health as a result.
If you’ve ever spent the first two weeks of January drinking nothing but kale juice or avoiding carbs like the plague, listen up — diets don’t work. In 2019, it’s time to put an end to the ever persistent, completely ineffective diet culture.
Going on a restrictive diet — or, even worse, a detox or juice cleanse — isn’t only unsustainable (you can’t drink kale juice forever), but any weight you lose is likely to be temporary.
An older study found that three years after successfully completing a weight loss program, only 12 percent of dieters kept off at least 75 percent of the weight they’d lost — and a whopping 40 percent actually gained back more than they’d lost during the program.
Remember: Drop the word “diet”. Drastic food changes aren’t helpful or fun. If you do want to make healthy, sustainable changes to how you eat, go for it — but do it intuitively to make health an instinct, not a trend.
Jade eggs that you stick in your hoo-ha to “balance your hormones.” Flushing out your colon to “remove waste buildup and detox the body.” Burning your skin and applying Amazonian frog venom to cure depression (yes, you read that correctly).
There are hundreds of natural health fads out there that claim to offer a miracle cure for all sorts of ailments, from sexual dysfunction to anxiety to digestive issues.
But just because a fad is all over the internet or has a celebrity endorsement (we’re looking at you, Goop) doesn’t mean there’s any actual science to back up those claims. In fact, many of the fads out there can do your body more harm than good.
Jade eggs can trap bacteria and increase your risk of bacterial vaginosis, colonics can cause perforated bowels and increase your risk of infection, and — shocking, we know — rubbing frog venom into an open wound can be seriously dangerous.
Remember: Natural can be bad but you’re the expert of you. Do your research and make sure whatever approach you take is backed by science.
If you’re on social media, you probably think everyone is leading a perfect life, filled with epic travels, perfect families, and #allthebrunches with bottomless mimosas, of course. But we’ve got a news flash for you — all that stuff people are posting on social media? It’s not real.
When you look at someone’s social media profile, you’re seeing a small portion of their life — and a very carefully curated portion at that.
It’s like a highlight reel, and when you compare your real life to someone else’s highlight reel, it’s easy to feel like you don’t quite measure up, which can wreak havoc on your mental health. Too much time on social media — and time comparing yourself to what you see — has been shown to increase depression and loneliness.
Remember: You don’t have to keep scrolling. Do yourself and your mental health a favor and stop comparing yourself to what you see on social media. It’s not real, it’s not helpful, and when you stop doing it, you’re going to feel a whole lot better.
Just because your trainer/friend/mom/Instagram said it’s good for you doesn’t mean it automatically is.
If you hate a particular type of workout, it doesn’t matter how effective it is — sticking with it will be pretty hard and eventually you’ll find a reason to give up and watch any result disappear.
There are literally hundreds of things you can do to be active (running, HIIT, and weight training, oh my!) — and you’re more likely to stick with an activity that you actually, you know, enjoy.
Find a workout plan that works for your schedule and body — and that you have fun doing — and in 2019, commit to never doing a workout you hate again — even if Instagram says you should.
Remember: “Good” is relative! Just because one person says it was good for them doesn’t mean it’s one size fits all. When it comes to fitness, the only thing that matters is you.
If you’ve ever suffered through a night (or 20 minutes) of lackluster sex, we’ve got good news for you: You don’t ever, ever have to do it again.
There’s no reason to have bad sex — period. If you’re bored, spice things up. If you’re not sure what turns you on, spend some quality solo time figuring it out. If you’re struggling with pain or lack of desire, talk to your doctor.
Remember: You don’t have to have sex if you don’t want to. Sex isn’t an isolated event for intimacy or pleasure — you can have that all without having sex! So, this year, commit to making sure it’s amazing all the time, every time. You deserve it.
Instead of force-feeding yourself meals that taste terrible, look for ways to incorporate healthy foods into your diet that make sense for you and your palate.
Does eating salad make you feel like a rabbit? That’s fine — just throw the greens into your fruit smoothie instead.
Can’t stomach the taste of salmon? No worries — sprinkle some chia or flax seeds on top of your morning oatmeal to get your dose of omega-3s.
The point is, there are plenty of ways to get the nutrition you need in foods that you actually enjoy — so don’t waste one more meal trying to get down foods you hate.
Remember: Health and happiness have more in common than you think. If a meal is making you miserable and you’re just eating it because someone said it’s healthy for you, it might not actually be.
According to a recent study from UC Irvine, it takes over 23 minutes to refocus after a distraction. So that means every time your phone buzzes with a new message or notification, it’ll take you almost a half hour to get back to the level of focus before you were distracted.
You might be tempted to download a ton of apps that masquerade as helping you be more productive (Fitness tracking apps! Food tracking apps! Calendar apps! ALL THE APPS!), but the more apps you load onto your phone, the more interruptions you’ll experience throughout the day, causing your focus and attention to tank — and your productivity to tank right along with it.
Remember: You have more power than an app. Downloading an app might seem like it will make you more productive, but it can be just another distraction. Keeping interruptions to a minimum is key if you want to be productive — and if you want to keep interruptions to a minimum, you need to keep apps to a minimum, too.
We get a lot of messages that the most productive or healthy people wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. to hit the gym before work. Or they skip a nap in order to squeeze in an extra workout.
But getting plenty of high-quality sleep is arguably the most important part of living a healthy lifestyle. It’ll make everything else you’re doing to stay healthy all the more effective. Getting plenty of high-quality Zzz’s gives you energy to push yourself in the gym, helps you control your appetite and make better food choices, and it can even help you live longer.
Remember: Your body has its own schedule. Don’t let anything — not even healthy habits — get in the way of a good night’s sleep. There’s no reason to revamp your sleep based on someone else’s life unless it’s truly worked for you in the past.
Thanks to Instagram and the #iwokeuplikethis hashtag, thousands of folks are walking around pretending they woke up with glowing skin and perfect hair.
But let’s be real — no one, except maybe Rihanna — wakes up like that. For the rest of us, it takes work, so let’s stop pretending it doesn’t.
Remember: It takes work to take care of yourself, so let’s stop pretending like it doesn’t. The less we pretend, the more authentic we can be — and what’s healthier than that?
Deanna deBara is a freelance writer who recently made the move from sunny Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon. When she’s not obsessing over her dog, waffles, or all things Harry Potter, you can follow her journeys on Instagram.