Promise of the New Year and Losing Weight

Resolving to make promises we can keep.

Posted Dec 30, 2014

It is time for New Year’s Resolutions.  The risk of this ritual is two-fold. First that we inadvertently devalue ourselves by creating a list as long as Interstate 90 of things we promise to change.  The second risk is that we get off the super highway of change at the very first exit.

Weight loss is a great promise.  My guess is that the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions have something to do with weight.  A lot of people talk about the “will” power to lose weight.  It was “will” power that got me overweight to begin with. 

The real key to weight loss is “won’t” power, not will power.  I won’t eat that, I won’t sleep past my exercise time, I won’t cheat on my diet with the belief that if no one sees me eating that chocolate it will have no calories.  So you have to develop and practice won’t power to stay on the highway of change.  I am ashamed to say that I used to introduce my wife as my better half, but since I have put on weight I introduce her as my better third.   My will power has been wanting….wanting more and more cake.

Another key to successful New Year’s Resolutions is to have at least one promise you can really can keep. 

Perhaps if we make our resolutions public we have more motivation to keep them. How many people avoid going back to their doctor after promising to lose weight?  I did. No one wants to be seen as a failure.  Not only a failure, but with a weak will (or, in my words, a weak won’t).  What little value we had in ourselves is lost when seen as incapable by others.  Building on the idea that we find value in ourselves through the eyes of others, keeping a promise increases your dependability, a highly prized quality.

Keeping a promise to oneself is a powerful reminder of your own capability to tackle a tough problem and find ways to solve it. It boosts one’s self-esteem.  People with lower self-esteem have higher cortisol levels[1], an indicator of stress and a detriment to well-being.  So make New Year’s Resolutions you can keep.

Towards the end of a particularly bad year I decided to call the psychic hot-line to find out what my next year held in store.

One of my resolutions this year is that I promise not to call any more psychic hotlines. I can do this. Weight and see.



It’s an I-M thing.

The Four Domains of the I-M




[1] Liu SY, Wrosch C, Miller GE, Pruessner JC. Self-esteem change and diurnal cortisol secretion in older adulthood. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014 Mar;41:111-20. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.12.010. Epub 2013 Dec 22. PubMed PMID: 24495612.