The Energy of the New Year

By Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC

…In my 15 years as an intuitive eater, my plan has pretty much remained the same day to day.  On my thinnest days, and my most uncomfortable and disconnected days, the goal has been the same:

To listen with curiosity.

I love the energy of a New Year’s Day. It seems that everyone is just a bit more mindful and purposeful.  Maybe a longer browse of the produce section, or maybe time is spent cooking. People think about how they want to see themselves, or how they’d like their lives to improve. As I drove around town on January 1st, I noticed many families on bikes and on foot, maybe with movement on their minds. The feeling in the air is one of fresh, mindful choice.  It’s a little intoxicating. It’s gentle, it’s hopeful. It’s forward focused, and we are holding the very best version of ourselves in our minds.  So full of promise.

Why is it so sweet on the first day?  I think it’s because we still believe in possibility. The onslaught of judgments and disappointed expectations has not yet deflated the simplest efforts to treat ourselves well. We aren’t bootstrapping change.  We are in it with a degree of interest and curiosity.

How does curiosity and freshness give way to white knuckles and distrust of self? Typically in my office, it’s because some other energy has taken over. Often the plans we make for wellness are just a little too rigid to morph into sustainable change. Sometimes the blame from previous attempts sneaks in and fills us with doubt.  Often fear surfaces and morphs into worry and anxiety. When worry and anxiety show up, ambivalence about our abilities hits a high. We begin to doubt ourselves instead of leaning into the trust that was burgeoning on that first day.

On the first day we are thinking about what might feel good. Further down the road we are trying to grasp change with slippery deprivation and invented rules as the primary motivators. We are punishing ourselves for wanting. We substitute perfectionistic standards for acknowledgment of our ever-fallible humanity.

The Body Trust approach, with roots in Health at Every Size® and Intuitive Eating circumvents some of the big and cyclical triggers. It relies on what works, instead of what we have been sold should work. It isn’t temporary.  It is sustainable.

The research is very clear:

  1. Increasing shame and stigma about size does not produce thinner people.
  2. No randomized controlled study on the use of Health of Every Size has resulted in weight gain.
  3. Dieting behavior is associated with weight gain over time.
  4. Restraining eating and food choices is also associated with weight gain over time.
  5. Intuitive eating can be learned and people stick with it longer than dieting behaviors.  There is less yo-yo effect.
Source: Bacon & Aphramor:  Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift,
Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:9 

The hopeful energy of the first day can grow.   But it is absolutely essential that we try something different (this is the trust part), instead of trying harder again and again.

For me, in my 15 years as an intuitive eater, my plan has pretty much remained the same day to day.  On my thinnest days, and my most uncomfortable and disconnected days, the goal has been the same:  To listen with curiosity. To get out of my own way. To trust my body to know more about what I really need than my head.  The focus is to approach each day, each meal and each decision about how to care for myself from trust and gentleness.  Most importantly, to assume that there is nothing particularly wrong with me and I can have what it is I desire most.

GGQIZ1H46n7nQveqQvQFNuABbRJs-2jBh98jdgeh2MI,N3K0UUWBtM3U9s6Re3XSlqLQ5_LlMLxSbH--Y_k188AHilary Kinavey, MS, LPC is a therapist and co-founder of Be Nourished. She encourages conscious and authentic living, with the courage to love yourself anyway.