New Year, New You! The 3 New Year’s Traps Holding You Back


By Stephanie Zerwas, PhD, Project HEAL Champion  

We’re about a week into this new year and I’ve got to ask you, “How is 2017 treating you?” Are those resolutions you made sticking? Have you been able to stick to the promises you made yourself? The new year brings so many expectations. It’s a clean slate. It’s a fresh start. It’s just so shiny and new!

You make promises to yourself like, “This year I’ll be a different person! I won’t… I’ll always…. ” Having hope for renewal and transformation can be wonderful. But thinking that change is magically going to happen just because you started a new year is also a lie. There’s nothing new about 2017. It’s really just the next day in our shared calendar that allows us to agree on the passage of time.


The “new” year is just a shared illusion. Ugh. Just writing that makes me sound like a total buzzkill!

I love that the new year is a time when everyone reflects. It can be a reminder to dream about where you want to go. It can a way to check in with yourself about your values and a prompt to inventory whether behaviors in your life are helping you or holding you back.

It’s also easy to fall into these traps:



1. Setting your expectations too high.

High expectations are a good thing right? Aim high, dream big! Absolutely. But also realize that the way to get to that larger goal is based on small, incremental, manageable changes. It’s easy to make promises to yourself like, “In 2017, I’m going to eat 100% of my meal plan every day.” That’s a great goal but you’ve also already set yourself up for a slip up and ruining your “perfect” New Year’s record.

Fix: Set manageable expectations for yourself like, “In 2017, I intend to try to always I have a snack on hand so that it’s easier for me to meet my meal plan each day.” Or “In 2017, I’ll work on calling a friend or recovery mentor if I’m struggling with an urge to binge.”


2. Hating yourself when you slip up.

That eating disorder voice that tells you, “You suck. You’re bad. No one will like you or love you unless you’re thinner. You better prove that you can lose weight.” That voice only motivates for the eating disorder. It can even be motivating in other situations. But it’s not a really great motivator for recovery.

Fix: Talk to yourself like you would your best friend. If your friend struggled or made a mistake would you tell her how horrible she is? No, you’d encourage her and find ways to support her on her journey. Why would you talk to yourself any differently?


3. Trying to go at it alone.

Too many people feel embarrassed or ashamed about having an eating disorder. Although more people struggle than you realize, living with an eating disorder can feel very lonely. It’s easy to think that no one could ever understand what you are going through.

Fix: Everyone does better when they have support. Whether it’s your therapist, parents, friends, or all of the above, share your goals with the people you trust. Whether you need a coaching in the moment, someone to hold you accountable, or someone to eat with, find the people for your team and work with them to assist you in reaching your goals.


Take care of yourself in 2017. It’s a new year but don’t expect a new you overnight. You’ve got this but be patient with yourself as you recover.


About the Author:


Stephanie Zerwas, PhD is a psychologist, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and clinical director of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders. She is also a Project HEAL Champion. Connect with her on Twitter.