Most New Year's resolutions related to fitness stall by January 19, according to research from Strava. Some people even endearingly call it "Quitter's Day." But that doesn't mean all hope is lost for 2022. In fact, saying good riddance to improbable resolutions—and introducing positive affirmations—could be the best thing you do this year.
"People set themselves up with unrealistic expectations and goals. When they aren't able to achieve those goals, they feel like they've failed," said Jillian Lampert, Ph.D., chief strategy officer at The Emily Program, a national eating disorder treatment program. "Affirmations could be a way to counter that disappointment and find more meaningful and sustainable ways to be in a relationship with yourself."
To help replace resolutions this year, we interviewed body positivity experts like Lampert, author Joy Cox, and leaders of Amazon's Body Positive Peers group to gather their favorite tips and affirmations. Lampert and Cox have worked with the Body Positive Peers affinity group in their efforts to help Amazon fight weight discrimination and embrace and support bodies of all sizes and abilities.
"Research out of Yale University shows that prevalence of size discrimination increased by 66% in the 2000s, comparable to rates of racial discrimination," said Shilpa Vadodaria, an executive on the Body Positive Peers board and a senior manager in U.S. Sales Strategy and Operations at Amazon. "These adverse effects intensify around the New Year as societal pressure to make weight-loss resolutions becomes ubiquitous."
Meet the wellness experts and Amazon's Body Positive Peers
John Ricchio, senior technical program manager at Amazon and Body Positive Peers member
“The creation of the Body Positive Peers group shows employees that there are folks at Amazon who are advocating for fair and kind treatment for ALL bodies. It shows that our company considers size-based prejudice a valid issue, and that it’s willing to give employees who are passionate about this issue a voice.”
Amanda Edelstein, account executive for startups at Amazon Web Services and executive on the Body Positive Peers board
"It feels very Amazon to me to be on the cutting edge with Body Positive Peers. So far, there are only two states in the U.S. that consider weight a protected class—Washington and Michigan. It's interesting to be part of such a new and important movement to support marginalized people around the world."
Dr. Joy Cox, body positivity expert and author
“When I met with the Body Positive Peers group, they asked a lot of great questions about how to talk about body image, offer support, and understand the experiences of those who live in different body sizes. Group members wanted to stand in solidarity with people who experienced weight stigma.”
Shilpa Vadodaria, executive on the Body Positive Peers board and senior manager in U.S. Sales Strategy and Operations at Amazon
"Body Positive Peers can impact people’s lives where legislation currently does not offer protection. The very existence of the group signals that Amazon understands size discrimination exists and wants to support our efforts to create body equity."
Laura Lawrence-Mobbs, learning experience designer at Amazon and Body Positive Peers board member
"I'm so grateful that Amazon is embracing the values of the Body Positive Peers group. We have leadership that recognizes the importance of body positivity and takes it seriously. It feels good to know that we're realizing this need worldwide."
Jillian Lampert Ph.D, chief strategy officer at The Emily Program
“The Body Positive Peers group is a fantastic resource for employees. If we could all have relationships with our bodies that are positive and meaningful, that would extend to make an impact out into the greater world.”
If you're ready to swap your resolutions for affirmations in the New Year, here are six ideas.
1.My body tells me what it needs
Lampert notes that resolutions aren’t about willpower. "Science has come alongside us to prove that when you feel a little out of control, it isn't your willpower failing. It's that your brain is not wired to do what you've set out to do.”
She said that rather than fighting your body's natural response to your goals, listen to what your body is telling you. "There are ways you can actually partner with your neurobiology to feel better," Lampert said. Start by pausing to listen to what your body wants, she said. “Instead of looking to an external source or a message from diet culture to determine what and when you should eat, tap into your internal needs and ask what it is that you need."
Lampert explained that the same philosophy extends to exercise: "We can really change our relationship with our bodies by meeting their needs instead of fighting them."
2.I accept myself
"Sometimes we don't realize how many negative messages we're taking in until we're overwhelmed by them," said Joy Cox, Ph.D., author of "Fat Girls in Black Bodies: Creating Communities of Our Own."
Cox recommends taking time at the beginning of the year to revisit the negative messages you've accumulated about yourself. Reevaluate those messages to determine if they truly reflect how you feel.
"It's important to spend time with yourself and unpack your own ideas and your own thoughts about your body and how it shows up in the world," said Cox. "Consider who's making the rules about whether or not your body is acceptable. There might be things society has told you are bad that you actually like about yourself. Don't be afraid to embrace those."
3.I will commit to myself
"Our relationship with ourselves is the most important relationship any of us have," said Vadodaria. "We can make the same commitments to care for ourselves that we would to a partner."
She recommends dropping resolutions and instead making meaningful vows to yourself. "Vows allow me to cut out the ideal that society is telling me to strive for and focus on who I am, what I mean to me, and what my most important commitments are to myself," she said.
Vadodaria even wears a ring as a reminder of the commitments she's made to herself—her personal play on customer obsession. "This helps me maintain a strong sense of self independence.”
4.I am patient with myself
"The current culture of success sends a message that if you're not overworked, losing sleep, and overachieving, you're not successful. I want to combat that message," said Amanda Edelstein, an account executive for startups at Amazon Web Services and an executive on the Body Positive Peers board.
That's why Edelstein recommends establishing patience with yourself. One tactic Edelstein recommends to cut out unnecessary expectations is employing the “Rule of Three.” "Every day you give yourself three things that you must complete, and everything you do on top of those things is icing on the cake," Edelstein said. "I find that helps me prioritize my life, stay on schedule, and take personal time."
5.I don't need to be fixed
"A lot of the goals we make are based on the notion that the way we are is wrong and must change," said John Ricchio, senior technical program manager at Amazon and a member of Amazon’s Body Positive Peers.
"There will always be somebody telling you that you should be something else, but when you start accepting where you are, your goals will be much more sustainable." Ricchio recommends pausing to consider how you feel before committing to a new goal. "If you feel terrible and compelled to do something because of societal influences, that's probably not the right goal for you," he said.
Instead, he recommends pursuing the goals that make you feel inspired. "Just be honest with yourself about what it is that you're after and why it resonates with you. Give yourself permission to chase what you're really passionate about."
6.I am enough
"The root causes of struggling with self-worth are different for everyone, but one thing that is consistent is that we all have those root causes," said Laura Lawrence-Mobbs, learning experience designer at Amazon and Body Positive Peers board member. This year, Lawrence-Mobbs said it's important to remember that you are enough.
"When you have that sense self-worth, you are free to truly be your best," she said. Lawrence-Mobbs said she takes small steps every day, like gratitude journaling and consciously consuming media, to help cultivate self-worth. "I've made an effort to remove media with negative messages and expose myself to the types of media that continue to reinforce my sense of self-worth," she said. Two resources she recommends for uplifting content are the be nourished blog and Random Acts of Kindness.
Rather than setting your standard resolutions this year, try reassessing your goals and implementing one—or a few—affirmations that resonate with you. "Pivoting from resolutions to affirmations could be a powerful way to start your year," said Cox. "This is something you don't need a partner for. This is something you can do for yourself."