Letter of Recommendation: Make New Year’s Resolutions That Have Nothing to Do With Weight Loss

I love New Year’s resolutions.

I first started making resolutions in my mid twenties, just after my grandfather passed away. Home life in my teen years had been challenging, marked by divorce, a tumultuous coming out, a high-pressure education, and an uncertain future. In the midst of all that, my grandfather emerged as a steady, loving force who was always in my corner. I would’ve done anything for him, and he would have done the same for me.

When he passed, it happened quickly. There were only a handful of months between his lymphoma diagnosis and his death. I still remember the wave of grief that crashed over me, and the thought that came to me, sudden and certain as a thunderclap: I won’t have to miss him if I become him.

That year, I made my first in over a decade of resolutions designed to reflect my grandfather’s values and step into a fuller version of myself. At 26, I aimed to be both direct and compassionate in my communication with friends and colleagues—as my grandfather so often was—and saw my relationships transform as a result. At 29, I committed myself to lead with humility, sharing openly my failures and lessons learned with those around me, a small antidote to the pressure to be perfect that my grandfather so happily shrugged off. At 31, my attention shifted to nutrition, and I launched an experiment to see how many days I could get 100 percent of my vitamins, minerals, and fiber from the foods I ate alone, without supplements.

At 36, I remain dedicated to these periods of reflection and resetting. And with each resolution, I find myself growing stronger: a stronger sense of self, a stronger character, stronger relationships, stronger values, and a stronger connection to the person I love so dearly and miss so much. Resolutions offer me a rare prompt to reflect, to set the course for the year ahead, and to more closely marry the person I want to be with the person I am today.

But as much as I love resolutions, resolution season is something I’ve come to dread. As a fat person, I’ve become painfully accustomed to hearing family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors talk at length about everything they’re doing to avoid looking like me. It’s surreal to live in a world in which my body is so readily described as a bogeyman, a terrifying future to which the thin people around me are desperate to avoid. And it’s almost dissociatively strange to hear their plans to finally lose those last 20 pounds and be expected to validate them, tacitly agreeing to the premise that bodies like mine are a fate to dodge.

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