Beauty Redefined Blog

Want a Healthier You? Ditch the Weight Loss Resolutions!

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How often do you come up with health goals that often have a lot to do with how you look and little to do with real health and happiness?  Profit-driven companies are busy bombarding us with slimy weight-loss slogans like Cheerios’ “More Grains, Less You” and Special K’s “What Will You Gain When You Lose?” They promise that losing weight will bring you health and happiness, but all they really do is replace a well-balanced meal with a 150-calorie serving of cereal. Not a health and wellness breakthrough, guys.

These magic ladies’ cereals and all the other “time for a new you!” marketing schemes are NOT the key to health, happiness or love! In fact, those fear tactics scaring you about all you are missing out on by being your current size are only benefiting companies, not individuals. It is time to push back against the degrading weight-loss marketing with REAL health and confidence-boosting resolutions, like the ones we’re recommending below. Today, we want MORE you and for you to WIN, not lose! Take that, Special K and Cheerios!

If you’re like me, my “health” goals used to revolve around clothing sizes, weight and measurements, and little to do with actual health or happiness. I know I’m not alone in realizing that even if the number got smaller, it had little to do with my actual health or happiness. 

I can look back in old journals and see that sometimes I resorted to extremes in eating and exercising to get to that random number I thought would bring with it all the joy I could imagine: “If I can just lose this much weight, I’ll be SO happy!” or “I’ll love myself and someone else can love me if I can just lose this many inches.” But personal experience, academic research and body image advocacy have taught me something very different: An arbitrary number is never the key to happiness, confidence or even health and fitness. 

We spend a lot of time writing and researching about the ways media objectifies females and asks us to view ourselves (to self-objectify) ourselves. We are told we are parts to be ogled by those around us, perfected and shaped by surgeons, judged by each other, and constantly in need of repair with the help of makeup, waxing, tanning, bleaching, plucking and posing — and now cereal.  Because of that, our health goals often reflect our self-objectifying views that often don’t get us to real health and happiness and don’t last too long (ex: “Fit into my jeans from 2003″ or “Lose 20 lbs.”).  They actually hurt our health and happiness. Have you ever reached one of those goals and then realized you still weren’t happy with where you were?  It’s because the ideals we see in media and set for ourselves are designed to be unattainable — we’ll work forever trying to reach them, but they’re forever out of reach, so we’ll spend all our money, time and energy working toward them!

girlpowerWe challenge you to join Lexie and I in pledging to fight toward reaching goals that have little to do with the way we look and everything to do with what we can accomplish. We urge you to pledge resolutions that reflect how valuable, capable and powerful you are.  Here are 14 empowering, achievable goals for 2014, and we’d LOVE for you to renew your efforts this year or make a fresh start with these resolutions as your guide! 

Set a true fitness goal: If you’ve held yourself back from running, biking, swimming, etc., because you felt self-conscious about what to wear, how red your face gets from the workout, sweating in public, (the list goes on), it’s time to set a goal and fight to achieve it!  Make this goal about your abilities and you’ll be much less inclined to care about what you look like doing it. Run a certain distance without stopping. Swim 10 laps faster than ever before. Do a certain number of crunches, push-ups, pull-ups, new dance moves – any fitness achievement measured in actions and not numbers on a scale, measuring tape or clothing tag. Lexie started running and broke free from self-objectification in a cool way. 

Leave your keys at home: If you drive or take public transportation to work, school, or elsewhere when you could be walking or biking instead, why not give it a try? Increasing activity is a beautiful way to release endorphins to feel happier, get your heart pumping and enjoy the outside world!

Forget your number: If you tend to fixate on your weight, measurements or clothing sizes, pledging to leave those numbers behind is your key to freedom!  Make a goal to stop or limit the number  of times you weigh or measure yourself.  Start judging your health through your activity level by setting a fitness goal (see No. 1) instead of a meaningless number, and you’ll get somewhere great! This post will give you all the motivation you need! 

Can the tan: Studies show the first time you set foot in a tanning bed, you increase your chances of skin cancer by as much as 75%! This stat alone is good enough reason to set a goal to limit the time you spend tanning or stop it entirely. The tan skin ideal is fleeting, leads to other “beauty” problems like wrinkles and skin spots, and is achievable through much less harmful means if it’s a look you just have to have. Read this post for more info. 

Stop negative self-talk: Too many girls and women have a constant script of mean thoughts about themselves running through their minds. Recent studies show us that girls who don’t like their bodies become more sedentary over time and pay less attention to having a healthy diet. If you think you’re gross and worthless, why would you take care of yourself? Set a goal to stop saying negative things about yourself. Start with a day, a week, a month, whatever you can do, and make it a permanent practice!

Think nice thoughts instead: On the flipside of the last study, research has found that girls who respect their bodies are more likely to be physically active and eat healthy. They are less likely to gain unnecessary weight and they make healthy lifestyle choices way into the future.  Since what we THINK about our bodies has a strong connection to how we TREAT our bodies, set a goal to shut out negative thoughts as they come and replace them with positive truths!

Put your $ where your mouth is: Make a goal to only shop at stores that treat females respectfully in their advertising and products.  Speaking up with your pocketbook is one of the most powerful ways you can show retailers what you will and will not put up with.

Speak up: When you see a media message that goes against what you believe about girls and women, let your voice be heard. Make a resolution to write to companies that produce and distribute offensive messages, as well as those that you appreciate for showing females as valuable for more than being looked at. We’ve seen major companies pull advertising and products that were offensive because girls and women speak up! If nothing else, slap one of our uplifting sticky notes on that magazine or ad and give somebody else a positive reminder! 

Go on a media fast: Choose a day, a week, a month or longer to steer clear of as much media as you can. That way, you can see how your life is different without all those messages and images, and when you return to viewing and reading popular media, you will be more sensitive to the messages that hurt you and those that are unrealistic. This post will give you all the info you need. 

Just say “no”: Set a goal to cancel out any media choices you view or read that tell you lies about what it means to be a female. Cancel subscriptions, throw away crappy things you already own, find a new TV show to love. You’ll thank yourself!

Picture perfect: If you are a photographer or like to take pictures, set a goal to steer clear of any Photoshopping or image manipulation that Photoshops those in your pictures out of reality. Signs of life are important and we need to see reality!

Mother knows best: If you are a mother, set a goal to never speak negatively about your appearance in front of your children – especially daughters. Your kids are listening whether you like it or not, and they will learn how to view themselves from your example.

Mirror, mirror: Critically analyze how much time you spend in front of the mirror. Could any of that time be better spent? This post talks about a woman who didn’t look in a mirror for a month and what she learned. It’s fab. 

Be an advocate: If you teach or lead a youth group of any sort, set a goal to integrate body-positive messages, media literacy and real health goals into your curriculum.  You can do this casually in your everyday life and work/family/church capacities, or in a more formal sense as a teacher or counselor. We offer a Group Leader Kit to guide anyone through in-depth lesson plans, discussion questions, and activities, along with merchandise for participants!  

We are committed to teaching media literacy — the ability to critically understand and analyze the power of inescapable media messages in our lives. We speak, write, research and do interviews about learning to recognize harmful messages and reject them so we can grasp our beautiful realities. You can have a powerful influence in your own life by taking on these resolutions! You can also support us financially this year by donating to our 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Beauty Redefined Foundation. 

  1. Angie
    Angie01-02-2013

    Thanks again ladies, for another year of advocating for us women! Looking forward to spending another year of following your work! All the best for both of you and your family in 2013!

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined01-07-2013

      Thanks Angie! It will be a great year. Thank you for all of your love and support!

  2. Angela Meadows
    Angela Meadows01-03-2013

    Great post! Can I add number 16? Take part in Project Not This Year and make a statement about why 2013 will be different.
    http://www.neverdietagain.co.uk/project-not-this-year-2013-be-a-part-of-it/

  3. Sam
    Sam01-04-2013

    I just found this site a few days ago and I’m so glad that I did. I’m a middle aged man with some creeping concern for my body image and I found this site searching for answers for myself (very few options for men, and there are lots of us, struggling with this). I also have two young adult daughters and on their behalf I appreciate the work you all are doing, you all being the people running the site and the people contributing their experiences. Thanks.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined01-07-2013

      Thanks, Sam! We’re so glad you found us as well. Though most of our research obviously focuses on women, and how media messages impact them, much of it applies to men also, with some adjustments. For men, the focus tends to be on muscle definition, rather than thinness, but it’s all the same in terms of self-objectification and focusing on appearance over health. We hope our work can be of benefit both to you and to your daughters!

  4. kristen
    kristen01-07-2013

    Wow, for a second I thought you were doing some sort of promotional tie-in with Special K… I just breathed out the hugest sigh of relief.

  5. Maria
    Maria01-19-2013

    Hurray, hurrah! I love you, B.R.!

  6. Amelia
    Amelia02-22-2013

    I found your site through a friend on facebook and I just wanted to say a huge thank you! I just had my 2nd baby 6 weeks ago and I’ve really been feeling down on myself because the weight didn’t drop off as easily as the first one. None of my old jeans fit and every time I looked in the mirror I was simply disgusted. I’ve been giving in to way too much negative self-talk lately and reading the things you have to say has totally changed my outlook!

    Thanks for helping me realize that I don’t have to be the same size I was in high school to be happy! I’m committing right now to a focus on healthy instead of size or weight and I’m going to love my body no matter what! (as difficult as that can be). Also NO MORE NEGATIVE BODY TALK.

    Thank you for what you do! I want to share this now with every woman I know!

  7. Kristen
    Kristen03-03-2013

    I was so happy to see this response to that stupid Cheerios slogan. Evey time I read the phrase: ‘less you’ on my multi-grain Cheerios box I’m like what? It just doesn’t set well with me. Thanks for the suggestion to speak up about it. I certainly will.

  8. Boot Camp Gold Coast
    Boot Camp Gold Coast04-11-2013

    Great tips! People embark on their weight loss journey for a lot of different reasons; many of which are for vanity. However, there are also those who try to work off their weight problems for more serious reasons such as health and family.

  9. Alison Moore Smith
    Alison Moore Smith10-16-2013

    I beyond love your website. Just wanted to let you know that it ALWAYS crashes my iPad browser. Facebook used to do the same thing, but only if I tried to enlarge the text. Yours does it just by scrolling down the page.

    And I wanted to read this while on the treadmill today. heh

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined10-17-2013

      Thanks for the heads up! We’ll see if our web guy knows anything about that issue. And thanks for your support — even on the treadmill! Love it!

  10. Minnie
    Minnie11-02-2013

    Hello, I enjy reading all of your article
    post. I wanted to write a little comment to support you.

  11. Lindsay Hickok
    Lindsay Hickok11-29-2013

    Thank you for this. I so appreciate the work you do and the messages you share. I agree that health and happiness have so much more to do with what our bodies can do than what they look like.

  12. brittlestar42
    brittlestar4201-02-2014

    I agree 100% with all of this. I don’t take issue with people doing with their bodies what they choose – losing weight, starting a fitness program, weight loss surgery, etc. It’s THEIR body, after all, and not my place to pass judgment on their choices. What gets to me, however, is how they choose to talk about it: a seeming constant need to talk about their weight loss goals with friends, family and co-workers. And how people have learned to *frame* their weight loss goals these days under the guise of “good health,” “gaining confidence,” etc. Which the Special K ads, and similar ads like it, are only helping people to do.

    I don’t mean to imply that people who choose to lose weight are NOT doing it for health reasons; I’m sure many of them are. But so many people these days have learned to stop talking about weight loss goals using the old self-deprecating frames we used to use (“I ate only 200 calories for lunch, which will help get rid of my thunder thighs! Hahaha!”), and replaced them with more supposedly “socially aware,” health-conscious frames – “I just feel better when I weigh less”; “I want to improve my cholesterol levels”; “I feel more confident when I weigh less”; etc.

    The problem, at least from this fat person’s perspective, is that along with better cholesterol levels and an overall feeling of physical well-being, you’re also attempting to achieve what western society has deemed a more “acceptable” body shape. You’re not just gaining confidence; you’re gaining societal approval, including approval from the opposite sex, by achieving a more “socially acceptable” body shape.

    And THAT’s what I take issue with. That’s why I have a problem with the Special K ads. As far as I’m concerned, without the honest recognition that one is losing weight not just for health goals and to “gain confidence,” but that one is also attempting to achieve a more socially acceptable body shape, a person’s revelation that they’re losing weight for their health rings hollow to me. The constant need to talk about one’s weight loss goals with friends, family and co-workers doesn’t speak to the desire to just achieve a healthier body, lower cholesterol levels, better triglycerides. It speaks to the desire for recognition that one is achieving a more socially acceptable body shape by having friends, family and co-workers recognize the loss of fat, comment on how much one’s body has changed, how noticeable the weight loss is.

    So please, co-workers, friends and family: if you’re losing weight for health reasons or otherwise, please find a safe place to discuss it among a group of people who WANT to hear weight loss talk. Please don’t bring it to work and assume EVERYONE wants to hear it (I don’t; I’m sure other fat folks and people with disordered eating patterns don’t either). Please don’t bring it to the family dinner table and assume EVERYONE wants to hear it. Find your safe space and your support group to discuss it, but don’t do it in front of THIS fat gal, and don’t assume everyone else at work or at the dinner table wants to hear it. At least not without the honest recognition that societal pressure to achieve a thinner body played a part in your decision.

    (And since we’re on the subject of the Special K ads, I thought I’d kvetch about another pet peeve: why they equate confidence, beauty, self-esteem with losing weight. That whole “I’m not losing weight, I’m gaining confidence” campaign. Why, according to Special K, can women only achieve confidence, beauty and self-esteem if they lose weight? Why can’t a fat woman be confident? Why can’t a fat woman feel beautiful, believe in herself, have self-esteem? I mean, I know Special K’s just trying to sell cereal, but selling it by playing with women’s insecurities by camouflaging it under the message of “you’ll gain confidence when you lose” is just damn odious to me. Sneaky, sneaky, Special K. Did you think I’d be dumb enough to fall for your message and not see through your tactics? Shame on you for underestimating me.)

  13. Kaylee
    Kaylee01-02-2014

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing to want to lose weight, especially if you are overweight(as in like 50lbs). It’s okay to want to look good, it’s okay to want to feel beautiful.
    Being obsessed with it is another thing entirely.

  14. Alicia Clouse
    Alicia Clouse01-08-2014

    Okay I just wrote a post exactly about this the other day and it helped me and others to really understand the “get skinny” vs “get healthy” dilemma. Enjoy!

    http://azleeshmarie.blogspot.com/2014/01/healthy.html

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