New year, new you, right? Wrong. Most of us have the identical assumptions and attitudes about food and eating (and everything else!) on January 1st that we do on December 31st. That’s because, wish as we may, the stroke of a clock does nothing to change what we think, feel, and do. Only we can initiate that transformation and it won’t happen overnight. Truly fresh and innovative thinking about food and eating comes from the realization that there’s no magical makeover awaiting us and that change comes only from hard work and lessons learned from occasional hard knocks.
Three cheers for everyone one of you who began this year by not going on another time-wasting, soul-crushing diet. Hats off to you each of you who began treatment this month (in- or outpatient, group or individual) for your eating problems. Hip hip hurray for every person who buried their scale in the back of the closet, joined a gym or health club, or dumped all their diet books and put their food scale out with the garbage.
If you didn’t do any of these things, take heart—you still have 15 days left to do something differently, to crack your old mold and begin to fashion a new one. It hardly matters what you do, whether it’s in the food arena, at work or school, with family, friends or lovers. Perhaps it’s time to begin a relationship that might do you some good or end one that’s done you an awful lot of harm. Maybe you’re ready to loosen up and find relief and humility in imperfection or, instead of waiting around for life to start, are revving up to throwing yourself into it. Or how about reshuffling your thinking to visualize your life free of food problems, or making that call that’ll help get you unstuck.
Find one thing, one small thing to do differently, then go out and make it happen: sign up for a class, enjoy ice cream, talk to that cute neighbor, dance naked in front of the mirror, go on a trip, walk out of the room when someone yells at you, plan a party, refuse to say I’m sorry if you’re not, dump uneaten food into the garbage, call an old or new friend, or buy something bright and beautiful (and wear it!).
There are no spontaneous recoveries, no instant successes or miracles. All you have is a ribbon of time stretching ahead of you, this year and all the rest of them, to keep making the nips and tucks in the fabric of life which will make it a better fit for you. As the old Alcoholics Anonymous expression says, nothing changes if nothing changes. But, amazingly enough, change one thing at a time and eventually you’ll be living a brand new life.