Resolution versus Listening to the Body

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year? How well does it work for you? Can you stick to your resolution long-term?

Whether you try to lose weight, change your diet, start a new exercise regime or alter a sleep schedule … changing your habits towards better health and well-being is challenging!

I asked some of my clients about their New Year’s goals over the last few days. Some responded that they never come up with a resolution, because they know they cannot keep it up anyway. Others are very clear and motivated with their health goals. For example, they peel themselves out of bed at 5 am in the morning to get their fitness exercise done before work… Sounds a little harsh to me!

Maybe these two extremes are two sides of the same coin!

Many people are out of touch with their body. Whether they are a couch potato – or follow a tough exercise regime, whether they keep eating their sugar-loaded desserts – or stick to a restricted diet plan, whether they give in and leave things as they are – or try to fight and control their body… All these strategies may have one thing in common: Listening to their body’s needs and bringing kind attention to themselves is not part of their experience.

Maybe this is why it is so hard to stick to a new (health) goal. There is one important piece missing which is the connection to yourself and your body. When it comes to changing habits like getting in shape or losing some pounds, many people start off the process by judging and being hard on themselves. Negative self-talk is very common. “I am too lazy” or “I have always been a bit chubby…” Often there are feelings of shame or guilt involved. – Who chooses to be in touch with that voluntarily? So either you avoid it altogether … or you fight your body having a determination and discipline, an “iron will”, to make that change happen. Often you cannot keep this up for too long.

I suggest that lasting change comes from another place – a place of calm, openness and kindliness.

It is hard to find this place in the hustle and bustle of life. You have to make time and space for it. Some people find this space on their walks in the forest, others in meditation or others while blowing glass. For some people it is helpful to find guidance in an Alexander session, a Reflexology treatment or with a meditation teacher. You need to be quiet to be able to listen to your body.

We can start right here and now to get quiet and connected:

Open your senses. Get still for a moment and listen to the sounds around you. Be aware of your breathing. Just witness the movement of your breaths for a moment.

Let your shoulders drop and the palms of your hands soften.

Let your feet rest on the floor. Notice your sitting bones on the chair (if you are sitting) and then notice your whole length form the sitting bones to the top of your head. (If you are standing, notice the length from the feet to the top of your head.)

Look away from the screen for a moment. Let your eyes soften. Allow time to pass. Rest in stillness for a moment. Be awake and present! Let your senses be awake!

Being in touch with your body is simple. It just needs a little shift in perception. You pay attention to your body. You open your senses. Staying in touch with the body and listening to its needs may be the way to create lasting changes towards better health and well-being. Here are some more strategies that may be helpful:

  • Slow down and practice deep breathing.


  • Eat mindfully: Take time for your meals. Sit down. Eat slowly. Let time pass before you take the next helping. (And you may not need it.) Listen to your needs.


  • Find an exercise that you like. Because your friend is a runner, doesn’t mean it is good for you. You may enjoy going for walks and/or practicing yoga. Stick to your individual exercise program. What is realistic for you?


  • Follow your exercise routine, but don’t be hard on yourself. Watch how you talk to yourself. Stay positive! Talk to you as you were talking to a good friend! Be kind to yourself!


  • Observe yourself and be curious about your body’s signals. It is nice out and you feel like going for a walk? Follow up! You are tired? Have a little nap or Constructive Lie-down. Find ways to include your body’s needs in your daily life!


  • Take time to care for yourself every day! Have a bath, go for a walk or meditate! Eat healthy nutritious food, move your body and take time to rest and recover!


  • Be present! Pay attention to your body. Trust the innate wisdom of your body!