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Why Your Gymnast's New Year's Resolution Should NOT Be a New Diet (And What To Do Instead...)

Can you believe we've made it to the end of 2023!?

And what a wonderful yet weird, difficult, and challenging year it's been.

If you're anything like me, you cannot wait for a fresh start! Anything to make 2024 better than 2023...

Cue the talk of New Year's Resolutions...

"I need to get back on track after the holidays."

With the start of the new year coming around, the idea of a fresh start feels so motivating!

"New Year, New Me!"

With that motivation, you're ready to make some big changes!

"Let's jumpstart the new year with a juice cleanse / detox!"

"This year is the year I'm going to eat clean! I won't eat any sugar - only vegetables and protein."

Wow! This all sounds so... great...

So, on January 1st, you clean out the kitchen. Throw away all the "junk food". At dinner, you only serve yourself chicken and broccoli. "This is easy! I got this!"

By January 3rd, you head back to school and the gym (meet day is only a few days away!) You feel ok at the start, but conditioning seems extra tough (but maybe it's just because you've had a few days off). You drive by your favorite restaurant on the way home (and man does it smell so good!) It's all you can think about now.

And by the end of the week, you're exhausted! You've got to sit down during the 2nd rotation because you feel so weak and dizzy, like you're gonna throw up!

And then, your teammate brings in a plate of cookies for their birthday! You can have just 1...right? "OMG It's so good!!! I need another...and another!" 

And before you realize it, you've had SO MANY!

And you feel so guilty and sick to your stomach!

"Why don't I have any willpower? Well this day's already ruined...let's stop at that restaurant on the way home and get that XL fries, milkshake, and soda while I'm at it. I guess I'll just start again tomorrow..."


The best way to stop this cycle is to NEVER START IN THE FIRST PLACE!

Especially as gymnasts, we are surrounded by diet messages. We live in a diet culture and a diet obsessed sport - a society that puts so much emphasis on eating a certain way or looking a certain way (especially as it could potentially impact your performance or perception of the judges). All in the name of "health". Always searching for that magic diet...that magic pill!

Here's a secret from someone who studied nutrition for 8 years and has worked with hundreds of gymnasts:

"Healthy" is a moving target. It's more about the journey and the process. There is no final destination. And it doesn't look the same for everyone.

And that perfect diet? IT DOESN'T EXIST!

The diet industry is a 75 BILLION DOLLAR industry. They are not in the market of helping you, they are in the market of keeping you stuck in the cycle to make $$$.

Want to know what does work?

Consistency! Finding a way of eating that not only supports your goals, but also works with your life and that you enjoy (physically and mentally)!

Instead of setting unrealistic expectations for yourself (and ultimately setting yourself up for failure and disappointment...), if you choose to make New Year's Resolutions, make them differently this year.

Make more meaningful resolutions that you can be successful with. Commit to:

  • Speaking kinder to yourself and others

  • Prioritizing time for self-care

  • Doing more good deeds or acts of kindness

  • Helping others

  • Spending more meaningful time with friends and family

And if you still intend to make food-related resolutions, instead of telling yourself you have to "give up" or "cut out" something, think about what you can add instead.

  • Add 1 more bottle of water each day

  • Add a helping of vegetables to your lunch

  • Add a fueling snack before practice

  • Add to your support system by investing in a Registered Dietitian

Make goals SMART! Set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive. For example:

"I plan to drink 1 extra cup of water between lunch and my pre-workout snack 4 days this week."


"I will pack carrots and chips to go with my school lunch 3 times this week."

And remember, nutrition is not something you have to figure out on your own! If fueling your body right is a priority for you heading into the new year, The Fueled Gymnast Academy is the is the simplest way for busy gymnast (and those who feed them) to learn the ins and outs of fueling their body as a high level gymnast so they can

  • have more energy, reduce the risk of injury, and perform their best


  • feel confident and empowered to make their own food choices (and not just have someone tell them what they have to eat)

Fueling your body doesn't have to be a guessing game. And you don't have to figure it out on your own.


Kerry Bair, RD, LDN, MPH

The Gymnast RD

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