Have you ever started the new year off with a resolution to go on a diet, lose those extra pounds, and start exercising regularly? If so, you have joined countless others who make losing weight their number one focus. Perhaps you’ve also joined them in being unable to keep the resolution continuously for even one week! A 1989 study by John C. Norcross of the University of Scranton shows that 77 percent of people who made these new year’s resolutions had been able to keep their commitments “continuously for one week” (that’s not very long!). Follow-up research by Norcross in 2002 put the figure at 71 percent for one and two weeks.
What’s going on when over 3/4 of the population who have weight loss as their new year’s resolution quit after the first week or two?
Could it be that focusing on weight loss is not the answer to having a great new year? Changing our outsides has nothing to do with improving our life. Our appearance does not change who we are on the inside.
What if weight loss wasn’t on your list? What would happen if you had an inner focus? How would your life be different if you decided to focus on loving your self and your body?
For some of you, that may sound like a tall order, but I have some good news for you. There are a growing number of people who are doing just that!
2016 marks the 6th Annual 31-Day Self-Love Diet Writing Challenge. When my daughter Emelina and I began this Facebook challenge in 2010, there were 3 people writing, and two of them were Emelina and me! Now we have over 500 Love Warriors from around the world, many who come back each year. The amazing and inspiring thing to witness is the profound changes that have happened from simply joining others on a similar quest and having the intention to write daily for 31 days.
Our writing challenge does not replace therapy, but it is healing. James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas instructed students to write 15 minutes a day about an important personal issue. His control group wrote 15 minutes a day about random, superficial topics. At the end of the experiment the students who wrote about issues of relevance had fewer illnesses and visits to the student health center than the control group.
“The idea here is getting people to come to terms with who they are, where they want to go,” said Dr. Pennebaker. “I think of expressive writing as a life course correction.” (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/19/writing-your-way-to-happiness/?_r=1)
“When you get to that confrontation of truth with what matters to you, it creates the greatest opportunity for change,” said Dr. Groppel (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/19/writing-your-way-to-happiness/?_r=1)
I began my Self-Love Diet in earnest in 2004, the same year I began writing my book, Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works. Before my daily writing, I thought I was doing well. I am a psychotherapist who specializes in helping people recover from eating disorders, and I have had success in this field. During the years I began my writing practice, I was surprised I had so many critical thoughts about my body, abilities, and decisions. These critical thoughts had become the backdrop to my daily thoughts, just under my awareness. When I began consciously working to change each critical thought, it felt like a full-time job! It became clear that committing to self-love is not for the weak of heart!
In fact, I believe we need to be warriors, Love Warriors, if we are to combat the billion dollar diet, exercise, and health industry that benefits from us feeling less than and telling us that their products will make us into the current culturally sanctioned ideal (which continuously changes, along with the scientific evidence for what helps us to lose weight!). I found myself needing to be a warrior in order to fight this uphill battle. I needed to declare that the number on the scale is not related to my happiness, joy, contentment, inner peace, or my value, not unless I let it.
Can someone go from hating themselves and their body to loving themselves and their body in 31 days? Yes, and No.
Yes: because we’ve read people’s experience of telling their bodies that they love them for the first time in their lives. Others have committed to catching negative thoughts and using the 5-step process to turn their critical thoughts around. One husband of a participant shared with us his gratitude for this annual writing challenge and credited it with brining in emotional honesty and expression of feelings into his relationship with his wife.
No: because it’s not that simple. The intention of loving one’s self is not something you can put on a to-do-list and check off. It’s an ongoing commitment to yourself, it’s a journey, a daily practice of regularly offering yourself love until it becomes what you do and who you are.
According to Static Brain Research Institute, people’s New Year’s Resolutions have a measurable length (http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/):
Resolutions maintained through the first week: 75% success
Past two weeks: 71% success
Past one month: 64% success
Past six months: 46% success
As we can see by the above data, as time goes on, people’s resolutions wane. But there is good news. People who made resolutions were 10 times more likely to keep them after six months than those who didn’t follow the annual tradition.
So are you willing to join us Love Warriors and revolutionize this traditional diet mentality focused New Year’s Resolution ritual?
I hope so, because there’s so much more to life than being successful or unsuccessful in losing weight. And, research shows that people who go on cyclical diets actually gain weight over time.
You may notice I am adverse to dieting. So you may wonder why I wrote a book titled, Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works?
Here’s why: When I began writing my book, I discovered a definition for the word diet that changed my whole perspective.
The third definition was, “things regularly offered.” That definition is 180 degrees opposite of what most people think of when they hear the word diet. In the past, the word diet meant to me what I could not have, what I needed to restrict, refrain, and restrain myself from. I thought of diets as focusing on losing weight, counting calories, depriving myself of the foods I loved, being tough with myself, whipping myself into shape, and using willpower to change my behaviors. It never occurred to me that the word could mean something that I regularly offered myself!
Then the next question came to mind: What if I regularly offered myself love? How would my life be different? There you have the beginning question that became the Self-Love Diet approach to spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, relational, cultural, and global health.
So are you willing to join us and try something new with other dedicated people who are searching for guidance on self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-love?
Click here to jump in or read more. Lovewarriorcommunity.com/31-day-self-love-diet-writing-challenge/
Blessings to you on your Self-Love Diet Journey.