January is one of the more popular months for dieting. Here’s why this might not be your best idea.
Although the holidays are times of reunions and celebration, much of the time we spend with family we’re focusing on our hopes for the future and our health. Plenty of our New Year’s resolutions revolve around getting in shape, especially since we tend to spend our holidays pigging out and sleeping in. While it makes sense, in theory, to enjoy your holidays now and worry about your health later, plenty of studies show that January diets rarely work.
While it’s never a bad time to focus on your health and to challenge yourself with something new, it’s important to keep your expectations in check, especially since diets are already pretty stressful without accounting for cultural pressure and the hangover from the holidays.
Here are 4 reasons why starting your health resolutions in January might end up backfiring.
Numerous studies show it doesn’t work
In the simplest of ways, when trying out a January diet, the numbers are stacked against you. Different studies show that most quit their January diets early on. Data also shows that these resolutions cause lots of harm to people’s mental state. They also drain large amounts of your money.
“The vast amounts of money spent on diet clubs, special foods, and over-the-counter remedies, estimated to be on the order of $30 billion to $50 billion yearly, is wasted,” explains Dr. Marcia Angell in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Your resolutions might have the wrong motivations
A lot of people who start to diet in January do so out of guilt over holiday eating or because everyone else is doing it. These motivations aren’t usually enough to get people to stick to their diets, at least over long periods of time.
“The problem with this lies in the concept of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. With intrinsic motivation, we are driven to achieve our goals because they reflect our most personal values, our truest aspirations and our most authentic selves. Extrinsic motivation means we base our goals on what other people think we are supposed to achieve,” said OPTAVIA’s behavioral manager on an interview with the Huffington Post.
“All or nothing” mentalities tend to not work in the long run
We’ve all experienced this to one degree or another, especially in January. We hope that the new year will reboot our systems and instantly make us a healthier and more goal oriented person, only to be disappointed when we realize that we’re still the same person and that achieving these goals is hard. Instead of quitting when things get challenging or when you fail to meet your goals, take things one day at a time.
January is peak “wellness movement”
If you’re a person who thrives on stress, this might not apply to you. But if crowds and the knowledge that everyone you know and their mother is on a diet stresses you out, January is not the appropriate time for you to start a diet. This month tends to be one where gyms and classes are full and where trainers are super busy.