Every time I walk past issues of Cosmo and other “women’s” magazines, I cringe. Mainstream media has become a teeny bit better about showing different body types, but are still full of ads and articles that body shame, in a sneaky way. I flipped through Cosmo and saw a page encouraging women to not shave their vaginal area. Yet they made sure to sneak in an advertisement for a new razor. Since February is about love (and African-American history), here are four actions you can take to encourage body positivity and self-care.
You are the only person who can love yourself unconditionally. The choice is up to you. Below are a few practices to guide you.
Start recording compliments. Every time someone, even your parents, compliment you on anything, write it in your journal. Or if you don’t have a journal start writing the compliments on paper and see how many you can collect in a week. The trick with this is that you must read the compliments later. Set a reminder on our phone to read those compliments every 7 days. Do it now! Put this book down and set a reminder to start collecting compliments. Then set a reminder a week from now and set a reminder to read the compliments.
Find or take a photo of yourself when you look your best. Hang that picture up where you can see it daily and remind yourself that you look good! If you don’t have a good photo or your camera sucks, get a professional picture taken or ask one of your friends who can has a good camera.
Stop the butt cycle. Yes, the stinky butt cycle. You know when someone compliments you and you reply, “thank you, but…”? That’s a stinky butt. Stop yourself from saying that. Each time you say that, pinch yourself. When you receive a compliment the only thing you need to say is “Thank you”.
Surround yourself with people who support you. If you have friends or family that put you down, then you need some distance. If someone is consistently hurtful, then you need to cut those ties temporarily or permanently.
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.
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.
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?
Today is day 12 of the 31 Day Self-Love Writing Challenge hosted by Michelle and Emelina Minero. This is one of the most important questions to answer for me because it leads to recognition of what I need most for my present and my future.
Self love means placing self-care above negative thoughts, unhealthy cravings and easy fixes.
It means using gentle self-talk when I feel lost, sad or can’t appreciate “where I am and what I have”.
Self love is putting forth effort to care for myself daily. It is holding myself accountable to my actions for the reaction to my choices.
Self love invoLves compassion, forgiveness, release of regrets, discipline, focus, belief in myself. It means following MY dreams and living in a way that is HEALTHY for my individual needs. Self love is unconditional. I need self-love ever moment of every day.
WHAT DOES SELF-LOVE MEAN TO YOU?
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The new year is here and while it’s really just any other day on the calendar, each new years day fills me with renewed hope and energy. There is a certain magic in having a specific day set in time to celebrate new beginnings. After all I’m never completely know what joys, accomplishments, challenges and pain will greet me in the future days.
January also starts the 31 Day Self-Love Challenge, part of the Love Warrior Community. A “Love Warrior” may sound like “Sparkly New Age Woodiedoo”, but it’s not! A love warrior is simply someone who chooses to energize themself with love instead of fear, greed or anger. As someone who previously fueled her life with fantasies of revenge, of needing material wealth to be happy and from the fear of never having enough, my intent is to embrace love as my energizing force. I will gladly accept the label of a Love Warrior.
So what’s the reason behind a 31 day Self-Love Writing Challenge? “Writing is one way to discover the many aspects of you. Embrace all of yourself, those parts you love easily, and those parts you don’t.“-Michelle E. Minero, MFT and Emelina Minero, Love Warrior Community Co-Founders.
In the first writing prompt we are invited to write a personal manifesto (prayer) letter to ourselves. You can read an example here on the LoveWarriorCommunity.com. Write as short or long as you feel comfortable. You can always add or take away to your letter at a future date. Below is mine. You are welcome to take from it what you like. 🙂
I am on a journey, on a road paved with self-love and layered with love from many others in my life present and past. There is always new love being laid down to help my journey and I promise to share that love with others without expectations.
I allow myself to feel a range of uncomfortable emotions, to fail and to stop if I’m putting myself in a bad situation. I have already lost so much and this taught me it’s okay to lose everything as long as I keep moving forward with self-love.
I am imperfectly perfect which means I’m always learning and learning involves failing.
Each day is a new opportunity and I will do my best to work for my goals.
I will succeed at many of my goals, maybe even all of them.
I know it’s been a difficult few years. I’ve lost loved ones, seen death up close, faced financial problems and made reckless decisions, but I am going to be okay. I am okay right now. From this moment I know that I’m whole and complete. All that I learn and add to myself in the future is extra credit to give life more joy, more meaning.
Please remember I’m still healing from grief. Also I’m still healing from the years of crippling and mind-numbing depression. I’m so grateful to have left those pains behind. I’ve worked hard on my personal issues and learned so much. I’m slowly returning to become that wild little girl who believed in magic and her own power.
This is my time to succeed in my professional goals. I will write and or create art every day. I will ask for guidance from those willing to share their wisdom. If I cannot solve a problem I will reach out for help.
Nurturing relationships is one of my goals. This past year has taught me the value of having not just friends, but friends who I can trust, who won’t judge me and who have similar ideals as mine. By surrounding myself with these friends I become stronger.
Self-love means living for myself and making sure I take time for self-care. It also means living for others. I will live for the memories of those departed who loved me so strongly. I will live for those still here who continue to love me. I will live for those who I’ve never met, for those struggling and succeeding, for those who were once cruel to me, for all life because we all deserve love no matter what we have done or will do.
We all want to keep our children safe. The damage of 911 and other acts of terrorism affects adults and children. The damage to children who witnessed catastrophic events wasn’t only physical, but psychological. Programmes have now been implemented to encourage resilience in schools all over the world. These programs help children and adults recover from trauma and cope with day-to-day stresses. For a long time a persons level of resilience was thought to be inherited. Can we develop our resiliency?
I am no stranger to life’s ups and downs; I was able to overcome many struggles throughout my life. I have bounced back from not being able to speak because of my speech impediment, and from moving halfway across the world without my parents at the age of 15. I lived in Kenya, Africa, a place with ongoing threats, robberies and a place with a general lack of safety. At age 5, an incident left me with a speech impediment-stuttering. I was also able to overcome a long battle with food, once being 40 pounds overweight. Yet today I managed to overcome my speech impediment. I completed my education in Nutrition & Food Science, and Environmental Health and I built two businesses. I currently work in the health field; I am a professional speaker and an award-winning author. People always ask how I overcame such obstacles. It was as if they were looking for a secret formula to being resilient or finding success. I really had to look internally and ask myself, Do I have a formula that I could share with others to help them overcome challenges and move forward? As I looked at my daughter I realized that this knowledge was important and needed to be shared with others. This is how the idea for the book was born.
When writing The Resilience Reflex I thought that I would not find the time to write. The only day I had was Sunday, but I wanted to spend that time with my family. After speaking to my coach, he pointed out that I could sacrifice a few hours in the early morning. So I did. I wrote and researched every Sunday morning between 5 and 11 a.m. for 5 months.
Both of my books, Attract Your Ideal Weight: 8 Secrets of People Who Lose Weight and Keep It Off, and my new release The Resilience Reflex dives into the behavior changes and mindset of people who have been successful and provides real-life experiences of people who have overcome their obstacles. Both books talk about managing and everyday coping skills that can be used in life and business. Women today experience a lot of stress! They have a lot to manage, family, life and business. I help women balance their life and business and became very successful. When managing stress and developing resilience we need to remember that our so-called negative emotions have a positive intent. For example, if you’ve been asked to present at the next board meeting, you may start feeling anxious, stressed and even scared, but we hardly ever acknowledge the reason behind those emotions. The positive intent of these feelings is to keep you safe from embarrassment. Once you acknowledge the positive intent behind the emotion, you are one step closer to overcoming this fear and developing your emotional resilience.
The Resilience Reflex provides the 8 keys to resiliency that can be used in business and life; it also provides the 3 steps, which is my signature system, on building ones resilience reflex. Once these 3 steps are used over and over again in challenging times, individuals will be able to easily find solutions and bounce back. Amazon Bestseller “The Resilience Reflex” is available on Amazon and other retailers. When you order the book you receive as a bonus gift The Resilience Reflex Workbook – 3 Powerful Steps to Get Unstuck and Bounce Back, this is available at Zaheennanji.com.
“I’m not going to live here; I am going back to Kenya. I can’t survive here! I wiped my tears away. Other kids will make fun of me in school, and I will hate it. However, in the back of my mind, I knew there was no going back. I could feel every cell in my body screaming, I wish I didn’t stutter! With a stutter that controlled my life, how could I expect to survive the next few years in high school? We string words to create dialogue, to have meaningful conversations, to inspire others with a moving speech, and all of these have two things in common: communication and creating relationships. The average person may not think twice when she opens her mouth to have a conversation; the words just flow out. That’s not the case for a person who stutters.”
ENTER TO WIN A FREE COPY OF “THE RESILIENCE RELFEX”.
This November the Love Warrior Community has started a 30 day gratitude challenge. I LOVE this kind of challenge. In a world with so much pain, fear and anger, finding gratitude can give us the extra energy we need to be the change we want to see.
Gratitude is quite a radical idea these days. We constantly absorb messages that we need more, we need new, we need something that we don’t have if we want to be happy. How loco is that? I learned that happiness comes from within. It’s a seed that you water and cultivate until it is ever-present in your life.
For those of us who always want more why is it so hard to appreciate what we have?
I was never much into the idea of gratitude until I spent many years being so unhappy that my existence became a chore. So much so that I wished for oblivion, though I never attempted suicide. Experiencing the pain after a close friend kill himself when I was 14 convinced me that was a pain I could never inflict on my loved ones. I simply wished for a quick accidental death. By practicing gratitude and many other therapeutic exercises(read my D.I.Y. Therapy posts) I learned to create a healthier mind with thoughts that build me up instead of tearing me to pieces.
I’ve learned to be grateful for past pains, for current obstacles and for whatever future comes my way. Now there are more happy and grateful days and fewer unhappy and ungrateful days. Now I wish for as much time as possible so I can actively create the world I want to see.
Self-love is important because deep inside YOU truly know what is best for you, how you need to feel good, what you need and why you deserve to be the best person you can be. Life is challenging and along the way others will be wonderful guides for you you, but why rely solely on others when you can be your own guide. I really support this idea of self-love. It’s one way I was able to overcome my depression and start living without fear of not being good enough.
January 1st marks the Love Warrior Community’s 5th Annual 31-Day Self-Love Diet Writing Challenge. In 2014 there were 100 participants who wrote over 500 self-love writing posts.
All over the world we are seeing women and girls suffering from eating disorders, dangerous dieting trends, and low self-worth brought on by the saturation of unrealistic and unattainable body images throughout the global media landscape. Even young girls in elementary school are not immune to having a negative view of their prepubescent bodies. This January the Love Warrior Community & SelfLoveWarrior.com are changing that by providing a safe space for women to love their bodies during their annual 31-Day Self-Love Writing Challenge.
The challenge was started by mother and daughter team, Michelle and Emelina Minero who created the Love Warrior Community in 2010. Michelle is a therapist with a goal of ending eating disorders as founder of the non-profit Eating Disorder Recovery Support, Inc., and author of “Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works.” Emelina is a writer, editor and community builder. Aside from her work with the Love Warrior Community, she founded The Human Experience in her quest to promote diversity in “everyone’s human experience,” and also writes for popular media outlets such as Curve Magazine.
The Love Warrior Community uses creative expression for healing and to increase self-love, self-acceptance and body acceptance. Women can consume, and produce their own, body positive writing, videos, art, music, and images. “What we’re creating is an aggregate of inspiring and body positive media to help people develop their own self-love practice,” says Emelina. “It’s an alternative to the negative and body critical media that exists in mainstream culture – in magazines, in movies, in TV shows, in commercials, in everyday conversation – it exists everywhere, and we’ve created a hub of body positive and uplifting media.”
Whatever issues you are dealing with, accepting yourself as you are will help you succeed. As a young woman I was exposed to constant media images and that coupled with comments from my peers instilled in me disgust for my body around the age of 12. My breasts were never large enough, my stomach never flat enough, my nose and feet were too big, and my hair was too frizzy. I could go on, but you get the picture, I hated my body because it wasn’t perfect. Having such a negative view of me was a large source of my depression, wreaking havoc in my relationships, causing me to doubt my talents, and feel miserable any time I wanted to go out in public.
I was fortunate to never become so obsessed with my body that I hurt myself. However several of my friends, relatives and co-workers suffered through unhealthy dieting, anorexia, bulimia, and even plastic surgery in their quest for acceptance. Some of them eventually learned to love themselves, but there are still those who are so insecure they have passed self-hate along to their daughters.
It wasn’t until age 30 that I stopped obsessing over my own body. I started by using less cosmetics and focusing more on what I saw as my best features. Change didn’t happen overnight. It was an arduous journey. The real tipping point was when I changed my thinking. Reading articles about people who had “imperfect” bodies and chose to accept and love that body without question was a real help. About 18 years of self-hate and I can finally say that I love my body. Though I still desire to look good, it’s not out of a need to look like a model. I am contentedly happy naturally and this gives me a feeling of freedom and confidence that shows up in other parts of my life.
Every once in a while, a negative thought jumps into my mind, such as comparing my small breasts to women with a larger cup size, but those thoughts don’t last because I immediately recognize those as unnecessary. Personal appearance should be about self-expression and your own comfort, not about what an advertisement or celebrity endorses.
My story is not unique. In the first year of the challenge it was only Michelle and Emelina sharing posts of self-love. This year had 27 entries on the first day alone. As the challenge grows and our culture evolves it has become easier for women to make a conscious choice of embracing their bodies as perfectly imperfect.
Emelina admits to having her own self-doubts in the past concerning her sexual orientation, she came out publicly when she was 19, and a mental health diagnosis. “I still wasn’t completely comfortable with my identity as a lesbian after I came out. I no longer feel like my sexual orientation is something that I should hide. This past year my self-love journey has largely revolved around realizing that I have bipolar 2 disorder,” says Emelina. Despite social stigmas of sexual orientation and mental health, she is not only able to accept herself, but she is able to support and offer resources to others on the path of self-acceptance.
Every submission of self-love will enter the participant in a drawing to win an autographed copy of Michelle Minero MFT’s book “Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works,” as well as her upcoming Self-Love Diet e-products. Women who are not comfortable sharing their proclamation publicly are encouraged to write a daily post in a private journal. Self-Love Warrior, where the 31-Day Self-Love Writing Challenge is hosted, is the Love Warrior Community’s group blog where anybody can submit or read self-love writing. The self-love writing is unique to each writer and explores whatever they are working on and where they are in their self-love journey.
Are you ready for a change in how you view yourself? The challenge starts with one question, “How would your life be different if you loved yourself and your body?”