Each New Year’s Day we make a fresh batch of resolutions (or the same ones from the year prior) and come the following New Year’s Eve—very few of us have actually achieved them. Gym regulars joke about the influx of people plodding away on treadmills in January, because they know they’ll all be gone by mid-February. It’s a depressing cycle, so common that it has become cliche. We are relying on our willpower to change, but unfortunately, it is a limited resource.
I’d like to introduce you to two women you may know:
Every morning when Angela wakes up she makes her green power smoothie with each ingredient carefully weighed and measured and studiously entered into her calorie tracker. She grabs the lunch bag she packed the night before with portioned-out healthy snacks and a lunch that she carefully planned to fit perfectly into her macros. At work she walks zealously past the donuts in the break room and gives her co-workers standing around them a look that says “shame on you” as she proudly places her lunch bag in the fridge. Throughout the day the food she packed leaves her hungry and wanting something more but she diligently fills up her water bottle and pushes her appetite aside.
I have spent the majority of my life unhappy with my weight and trying to fix it. When I was 11 or so, a short, buck-toothed boy informed me that I was fat (it didn’t occur to me to inform him that he was short and buck-toothed). Until that moment, standing in my friend’s kitchen with her aforementioned older brother, my body was just a body, but there I was suddenly and inexplicably standing in an inferior one. When I got home I stood in front of a full-length mirror in my parents’ room hoping, “maybe my back just bows in and makes my stomach stick out further than it should?” (Because of course I would rather have a deformed spine than be chubby!) But no matter how straight I tried to stand or how hard I tried to suck it in, my reflection transformed before me from that of a carefree little girl to an insecure prepubescent one.