Want to know the secret for lasting weight loss? It doesn’t involve grapefruit or cabbage (unless you like them) and you don’t have to engage in strenuous, sweaty exercise (unless you enjoy it). But you do have to follow the program for longer than ten days—in fact, you have to commit to it for a lifetime. The secret is to journal for weight loss. By doing this you can learn to listen to your body, mind and spirit, and to give yourself the nurturing and pleasure that you need. Sound simplistic? Perhaps, but as you have probably discovered, any diet or exercise program that relies solely on willpower is bound to fail. There’s a simple reason for this: We are hardwired to seek pleasure and avoid pain; it’s a basic survival instinct. Ignoring this fundamental aspect of human nature is a sure setup for failure. But acknowledging and appreciating your need for pleasure also provides you with the keys for your success.
What brings you pleasure?
First, you need to gather information about what brings you pleasure. Set aside at least one hour to begin your journey of self-exploration. Make yourself comfortable and brew a cup of your favorite herbal tea—this sets the tone for making self-nurturing a priority in your life. Now, make a list of at least twenty-five things that bring you pleasure. What makes you feel happy to be alive? Perhaps you enjoy an early morning walk with a friend. Or you might prefer to spend time in the morning reading cozily in bed and drinking tea. What brings you pleasure is unique to you. Do you enjoy soaking in a hot aromatherapy bath? Receiving a massage? Reading a novel? Gardening? Perhaps you like painting, photography or quilting. How about ballroom, salsa or belly dancing? Include as many simple pleasures on your list as you can think of—things that you can do for under five dollars and in less than one hour. The possibilities are endless, and will reflect your individuality.
When you’ve finished, take another look at what you’ve written. Next to each entry, make a note of the last time that you recall engaging in that particular activity. How many pleasures have you granted yourself this week? How many during the past month? If you believe that taking time for yourself is self-indulgent, or if you find that you generally put your needs at the bottom of your to-do list, you’re not alone. But if you’re not nurturing yourself with something pleasurable on a daily basis, then you’re in danger of feeling deprived. In a state of chronic deprivation, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be able to maintain a healthy body weight. In fact, overeating is often a cue that you’re not taking care of your basic needs for self-nurturing and pleasure.
Making it happen
Now that you’ve identified some of the things that bring you pleasure, it’s important to put your knowledge into action. In your schedule book or calendar, make an appointment with yourself for one fifteen-minute (or longer) pleasurable activity every day this week. Keep this appointment with yourself, just as you would any other appointment. You may find it helpful to continue recording your appointments for self-nurturing, because slipping back into neglecting the need for pleasure is all too easy.
You’ll find that the more you attend to giving yourself pleasure in all aspects of your life, the easier it will be for you to attain the ideal weight for your body. Discovering what brings you pleasure and setting aside time every day to nurture yourself builds self-acceptance and an enjoyment of life that naturally translates into a healthy and fit body, mind and spirit.
Laurel Vukovic writes and teaches about herbs from her home in southern Oregon. She is the author of 1001 Natural Remedies (DK, 2003) and Herbal Healing Secrets for Women (Prentice Hall, 2000).
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