Most New Year's resolutions related to fitness stall by January 19, a day many endearingly call "Quitter's Day." Though many resolutions fall by the wayside, that doesn't mean all hope for growth in 2021 is lost. 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 comprehensive 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 readers pivot this year, we interviewed body positivity experts like Lampert as well as leaders of Amazon's Body Positive Peers group to gather their favorite affirmations. As the company's newest affinity group, the Body-Positive Peers group is an employee resource group that helps Amazon combat 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 until comparable to rates of racial discrimination," said Shilpa Vadodaria, Amazon Senior Manager, U.S. Sales Strategy and Operations, and executive on the Body Positive Peers board. "These adverse effects intensify around the New Year as societal pressure to make weight-loss resolutions becomes ubiquitous."
If you're ready to pivot from the goals you set at the beginning of the year, here are six affirmations to help you focus on what really matters this year—you.
1.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 cutting resolutions completely out of the equation 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 independent of external influences like brand marketing and social media."
2.My body tells me what it needs
"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," said Lampert. Rather than fighting your body's natural response to your goals, she recommends listening to what your body is telling you. "There are ways you can actually partner with your neurobiology to feel better," she said.
"Start by pausing to listen to what your body wants. 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."
3.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, Account Executive for Startups at Amazon Web Services and executive on the Body Positive Peers board. That's why Edelstein recommends establishing patience with yourself. "A lot of us barely got out of 2020," they said. "2021 is the year to be softer and kinder to ourselves."
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," they said. "I find that helps me prioritize my life, stay on schedule, and take personal time."
4.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 member of the Body Positive Peers group. "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."
5.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.
6.I accept myself
"Sometimes we don't realize how many negative messages we're taking in until we're overwhelmed by them," said Dr. Joy Cox, Author of "Fat Girls in Black Bodies: Creating Communities of Our Own." That's why she recommends taking time at the beginning of the year to revisit the negative messages you've accumulated about yourself and reevaluate if they really 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 Dr. 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."
Rather than buying into the "Quitter's Day" narrative this year, try reassessing your goals and pivoting to one—or a few—of the affirmations that resonate with you. "Pivoting from resolutions to affirmations could be a powerful way to restart your year," said Dr. Cox. "This is something you don't need a partner for. This is something you can do for yourself."