I recently asked five random people what their New Year’s Resolutions were. Three of them had Resolutions related to “health,” “food,” or “weight.”
When they shared these Resolutions with me, I told them it was a shame that we feel we must change these things about ourselves. I wish we didn’t focus on these things in today’s society — but, at the same time, I understand why they did.
Because I once focused on these things, too.
I used to make a deal with my eating disorder every New Year. It certainly didn’t help that almost everyone around me was doing the same thing. I felt it was normal to want to change my body or weight at the New Year — because everyone else was doing it. So, I made the same Resolution each year.
When I turned 18 and admitted myself into treatment, I found a new world. I found a new me and a new life. This life was so much better and came with so much more freedom.
2011 was my first New Year in recovery. I was facing a “New Year’s Resolution dilemma” and I didn’t know what to do. For ten years, I had always stated the same thing as my New Year’s Resolution.
At the time, I was working and in school. People were discussing weight loss and making comments about their bodies and food. I knew that I could NOT go there with them. I could NOT focus on my weight, my body, or my food. It just wasn’t an option for me. But people all around me were making Resolutions that I could NOT and would NOT choose. I found myself annoyed at all the chatter and comments people were making. And I didn’t really know what to do with myself. What could I do for a New Year’s Resolution? I had never done anything different. I had never chosen something that was good for me, or something that didn’t revolve around being sick.
In the midst of this, I had a mentor tell me that I didn’t need to have a Resolution. And, if I really wanted one, I could identify a few small goals that would be possible and
genuinely helpful. The ideas I came up with may sound silly to some people — but I took them seriously and with hope and joy.
Here are my first New Year’s Resolutions in recovery:
- I was going to make my bed every morning (if anyone is wondering, that stopped after a week).
- I was going to read more.
- I was going to take my recovery seriously.
- I was going to make more friends.
Besides making my bed, I was able to accomplish all of those goals. And, every year since, I have chosen similar things.
Last year’s Resolutions were:
- To read 100 books (I did!)
- To go to as many concerts as I could afford (I did: Sugarland, Pink, and Ella Voss)
- To stay connected with my current friends (I did)
- To make new friends (I didn’t fully do this — but that’s okay!)
- To get into graduate school (I didn’t get in, but I applied. And again, that’s okay)
My Resolutions are a list of small goals. I try to see them as goals and not Resolutions. The word goals sounds so much better to me!
This year, I am hoping to:
- Read 200 books (for fun)
- Apply and get into graduate school
- Get a job or volunteer and use my degree to receive more experience for grad school
- Stay more connected with my family
- Visit my brother in Alaska
For me these are all goals that I feel I can accomplish. And these are “Resolutions” that I can share with others.
With every passing year in recovery, another New Year comes along. My Resolutions no longer have to do with food or my body. I know that others will make Resolutions about their bodies and food choices and I will hear commercials and advertisements about gym memberships. During this time, it’s important for me to remember,
“That’s not a choice I can make. That is not what I want. I refuse to give into society’s thoughts and perceived standards for New Year’s Resolutions. I will choose goals that are healthy for me. I choose goals that are achievable and that I feel proud and happy about.”
As New Year’s Day comes and goes, we may be surrounded by comments, posts, pictures, and so much more related to bodies, food, weight. When comments are made and people’s opinions, statements, and ideas are unhealthy for us, we may feel frustrated. In these moments, it is so important to remember that:
“This is not what we want. It’s not what we are going to choose. It’s not going to help our recovery and we will choose not to participate in any conversations around that. If we are brought into conversations that feel unhealthy, we can state, ‘it’s a shame that we have to feel this way in today’s society.’ We can state our goals and walk away.”
Maybe, like me, your New Year’s Resolutions were often related to your eating disorder. This New Year, you have a choice. You can choose freedom. You can choose real goals that you can accomplish and that will make you feel proud and happy. How exciting is that!?
I am in recovery. I will not give into today’s society. I will NOT give into my eating disorder. I am free.
My name is Savannah and I am a part of the Recovery Ambassador Council at Eating Recovery Center. I am a little over eight years recovered and the path I have taken to get here has been hard but worth it. I write about my recovery because I want others to know that they are not alone and that it does get better.
Learn more about Savannah and her experiences in eating disorder treatment and recovery: