How Would Your Life Be Different If You Chose Self-Love as Your New Year's Resolution?
Q&A with out lesbian and co-founder of the Love Warrior Community, Emelina Minero.
Happy New Year's LOTL Family! What are your New Year's resolutions? For most people, it's to lose weight. We got to talk with Emelina Minero, the co-founder of the Love Warrior Community, about why this year you should choose self-love as your New Year's resolution instead. Emelina shared with us that if you want to be at your healthiest and your happiest, the most effective thing is not focus on weight loss, but rather self-love. If you think I'm talking crazy and am spewing radical nonsense, know this: ninety-five to ninety-eight percent of dieters gain all their weight back, plus more within one to three years. Focusing on weight loss doesn't work. Instead, it creates a negative thought cycle that continuously sets you up to fail and makes you believe that you're not good enough as you are. We got to chat with Emelina about a different diet, the Self-Love Diet, and how her self-love journey has lead her to self-acceptance around her sexual orientation. Emelina also filled us in on the 5th Annual 31-Day Self-Love Diet Writing Challenge that began on January 1st, 2015. (By the way, did you notice the author of this article? Yes, Emelina Minero is interviewing Emelina Minero.)
What is the Self-Love Diet and how is that different from other diets?
With traditional diets, the goal is usually weight loss, and the means to get there is focused on exercise and eating, and often restricting or limiting food. The Self-Love Diet doesn't involve any food rules or categories. In the Self-Love Diet, all food is legalized. Also, the focus of the Self-Love Diet is not food, although intuitive eating is addressed.
The word "diet" has multiple meanings. One of the definitions is "things regularly offered." The Self-Love Diet is a diet of regularly offering yourself love. This diet stems from the book Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works (http://theselflovediet.org/), which I edited, and my mom, Michelle Minero, a therapist who specializes in eating disorder recovery, wrote.
The Self-Love Diet is all about cultivating self-love through exploring your relationship with your spirit, body, mind, emotions, relationships, culture and world.
The biggest difference between the Self-Love Diet and traditional diets is that traditional diets have you search for acceptance, validation and wisdom from outside of yourself, and they have you focus on obtaining those things through focusing on your appearance, but a person's value and identity doesn't lie in their body or their appearance. The Self-Love Diet promotes finding guidance, validation and acceptance from within.
How has practicing self-love impacted you personally?
Self-love is everything to me. It makes everything about life beautiful, even the darkest moments. My 98-year-old grandma died this past September, a day before her birthday. That was a difficult time for me and my family. I come from a huge family, and about 60 of us were at her house every day for the last couple weeks of her life. That was beautiful, and that time together was precious. Self-love helps me to see the light in the dark and makes me appreciative, even during difficult times.
How did self-love help you to accept your sexual orientation?
When I live from a place of love, I let go of fear, and I let go of shame.
I knew I was attracted to women when I was 5-years-old, I started the coming out process at 18-years-old, and I let go of all of my fear and shame at 24-years-old. Fostering self-love takes time. It's a daily practice. I lived 14 years of my life in fear, and I believed that there was a part of myself that society did not accept and that it was safer for me not to share that part of me. Fourteen years is a lot of time repeating and strengthening that thought pattern.
At 18, I was tired of living in fear and feeling alone. I didn't want to have to hide a part of who I was anymore. It was exhausting. From 18 to 24, I spent seven years working on letting go of all of that fear that I built inside of myself. I did that by letting love in.
The first step I took was letting people in. The second step was putting myself into a supportive environment that I not only felt safe in, but also celebrated in. For me, that safe space was Randolph-Macon Woman's College.
I started practicing self-love in earnest in 2010 when I started working with my mom. We created an online community together, the Love Warrior Community, which uses creative expression to foster healing, self-acceptance, body acceptance and self-love.
A lot of factors helped me on my journey towards fully accepting my sexual orientation, like working for Curve Magazine (http://www.curvemag.com/) after college, getting involved with LGBT organizations and companies, like GLAAD, the LGBT Academy of Recording Arts, the OUTmusic Awards, Stonewall UK and writing for various queer publications. Getting myself involved in the queer community was really important for me.
Outside of that, what really helped me to accept and love all of myself was self-love writing.
Tell me more about self-love writing.
It's empowering, and it can also be frightening. It's like journaling, except with more self-awareness and intention. I use self-love writing when I want to explore and learn more about myself. I use self-love writing to help me love parts of myself that I sometimes struggle to love. I use self-love writing when I want to process my emotions or an experience. It's a great tool for self-reflection, exploration and growth. One aspect that's powerful about self-love writing is sharing it. That can also be the most frightening part, but it's also liberating. Self-love writing helped me let go of any fear I had around my sexual orientation.
What is the 31-Day Self-Love Diet Writing Challenge?
It's a free online event that my mom and I host each January. That time of the year when people are excited about New Year's resolutions and transforming their lives, we encourage them to focus that energy on loving themselves. Through the event, we also recommit ourselves to self-love.
Every day throughout January, my mom and I share a Self-Love Diet writing prompt to follow, and people write in their own journals, they share their writing on the Facebook event page, or they share their writing to be published on the Love Warrior Community.
It's wonderful. The energy that emanates from the 31-Day Self-Love Diet Writing Challenge Facebook event page is contagious! So many people, of varying genders, ages, sexual orientations, of all backgrounds – share their self-love journey and support one another, and it's beautiful.
The Self-Love Diet writing prompt for January first was to write a self-love letter, prayer or manifesto, and it's so wonderful to read what everyone is sharing. It cultivates this safe space that fosters emotionally honesty, and it feels supportive and freeing, and it connects everyone together.
By a single person participating, they are not only changing their life, but they're changing everyone's lives – because what they share has power and it has an impact, and that loving energy spreads.
Self-love is so powerful, and I think it's under most people's radars. The day before this event started, someone read an article I wrote for Curve Magazine (http://www.curvemag.com/Advice/Why-I-Stopped-Coming-Out-of-the-Closet-276/) about the event, and that encouraged them to reach out to me and ask me where do they start to get help to recover from their eating disorder. That is powerful. That is the impact that self-love has. That is the impact that emotional honesty has, and that sharing our stories has.
Self-love is at the root of all healing, and it's at the root of all positive transformations. This event fosters self-love.
How can people participate in this event?
Click "Going" on the Facebook event page (https://www.facebook.com/events/1532973040295644/). In the about section, you'll find all of the information about the 31-Day Self-Love Diet Writing Challenge, and you'll be able to experience and read and comment on what everyone else shares.
If you don't have Facebook, you can read more about the event on the Love Warrior Community (http://www.lovewarriorcommunity.com/31-day-self-love-diet-writing-challenge-2015/).