Re-Start Challenge: New Year Happiness Blueprint

Table of Contents

Day 1

There’s something poetic about new beginnings. Mondays always carry a little extra life-changing, goal-reaching magic.

But, I’ve noticed a trend regarding our well-meaning New Year resolutions: Our goals for the “new me” often walk hand-in-hand with a barrage of self-criticism.

We over-remember our faults of the past and are unforgiving of mistakes. We wrongly assume that our future will hold the same unhealthy patterns, habits, and beliefs as the past.

What if this year is the year of self-compassion instead of self-hate?

The year of love-motivated change rather than hate-motivated criticism?

The year of making peace with food in place of the frustrating cycle of dieting and binging?

This can be the year when relationships blossom (including your relationship to yourself), work is fulfilling, health comes easily, and happiness abounds.

But this can only start when you make peace with yourself: full, complete, unconditional acceptance for where you stand and who you are today.

Today's challenge is to RECOMMIT.  On this day of new beginnings and fresh starts, I encourage you to take a moment to recommit to yourself: your life, your love, and your happiness.

Take a moment to visualize where you want to be a year from now. Visualize a revitalized, glowing, thriving you.

Today’s challenge is to create an intention to recommit to yourself.  It can sound like, “I am committing to myself, to my health, to my happiness, and to a year of self-acceptance and love!” Share what it means to you to recommit to your health and why this goal is important to you.

What are you recommitting to today?  For example: “Today I recommit to a year full of self-acceptance! I recommit to developing a healthy relationship with myself. I’ll finally give up the diet habit. I’ll prioritize listening to my body, my hunger signals, and my emotions. I am going to prioritize the things that are most important to me: family, work, and my dog. I’ll spend time working towards things that bring me joy. I deserve to have health and happiness, and I’m sick of standing in my own way. To a New Year and a new relationship with myself!”

And then you are on your way to the Land of Fulfillment, where dreams come true, smiles are authentic, and weight loss comes naturally.

Tomorrow we’ll be talking about healthy goal setting and working through the limiting beliefs that stop us from attaining our goals!

Let us welcome the new year with things that have not yet been. Let us say goodbye to a history of struggle and hate. Let us rejoice that starting today, things can and WILL change.


Day 2


Yesterday you had an opportunity to recommit to loving and appreciating yourself. Now, it’s time to talk about how to sustain effortless change and how to remove the roadblocks that stop us from attaining our most deeply desired goals and dreams.

If only it was as easy as hopping on and ordering a one-way ticket to The Good Life – a land where the coffee flows freely from the mountaintop to the sea, crazy mother-in-laws are jailed for life, and all is well with the world.

Arriving at The Good Life isn’t as easy as moving through a TSA line and checking your bags, but the good news is you can get there today.

In fact, you can be there right now. Today’s challenge is to REEVALUATE.

Start by writing out everything that is stopping you from being happy. Don’t  just consider your external circumstances. Take notice of any limiting beliefs or assumptions that contribute to your unhappiness.

Do you believe that you need to lose weight to feel happy or confident?

Do you assume that you will feel more loved if only this “one thing” happened?

Well, let me tell you a secret. That’s not how it works.

What’s stopping you from love and happiness isn’t the weight, the bad job, or poor health.

What is stopping you is the belief that you can’t have love and happiness until the weight is gone, the marriage is fixed, or your boss stops acting like a fire- breathing dragon.

If you believe that you can’t be happy today, I guarantee you won’t be happy today.

For example, let’s imagine that it’s springtime and you’re planting a garden. You plant strawberry, blueberry, and carrot seeds.

Would you expect an apple tree to sprout from your strawberry seeds? Or zucchini to grow from the carrot plant?

Of course not. As the old proverb goes, we reap what we sow.

Our minds are like a garden. If we plant seeds of hopelessness, criticism, and frustration, we will grow despair, hate, and anger.

But, if we plant hope, acceptance, and compassion then peace, love, and change will flourish. In the soil of psychological safety, we find both the desire and the capability to improve and progress without struggle.

Imagine reaching your goals without beating yourself with the sharp stick of shame every step of the way!

It takes more than understanding what holds us back. Another proverb says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

What is your vision? What are your goals? Take a few more minutes to envision and then record specifically what you want to happen this year.

These goals can be centered around positive values like self-acceptance and compassion. They should work against self-criticism rather than provide dry kindling to the fire of self-hatred.

A few examples of these goals might include learning to be more grateful, listening to your body every day, or processing difficult emotions rather than masking them.

Stay tuned tomorrow for some advice on how to build a great support system around you and your newly formed vision.

With my most encouraging and supportive love.

Day 3

It’s easy to break a pencil in half: take the pencil by each end, exert a little effort, and snap! The pencil easily splits in two.

But it’s a lot harder to break a bundle of twenty pencils in half. You take the bundle in both of your hands, exert a lot of effort, yet the bundle remains intact. Something as small as a pencil becomes impossible to break when it’s supported by its pencil friends.

In this example, we find a powerful lesson: weak things become strong when given proper support.

If we look at nature, we find the same lesson. Most animals live in communities instead of on their own. Fish and birds move in groups to protect themselves when predators attack. Wolves hunt in groups to catch their prey. Monkeys dwell in groups to efficiently take care of the young. Beavers build better shelters and dams when it’s a group effort.

Humans are no exceptions. We can’t run fast, jump high, see in the dark, or survive long periods of time without food or water. If we were dropped in a desert or forest, we would have a hard time surviving. We live in communities because we need others to survive and thrive.

Emotionally, we rely on the people around us for love, strength, support, and the fulfillment of other needs.

Learning to rely on each other, rather than suffer in silence, is one of the great lessons of life. For example, it’s more fun to do this 8-day challenge in our Facebook community than do it at home alone!

Sometimes we doubt ourselves. It is in these times we rely on the people around us to strengthen us and give us the courage we need to continue.

So, today’s challenge is to RELY on someone, to lean on a friend or loved one by sharing the goals you created yesterday. Talk to them about your goals, the stumbling blocks you’ve uncovered, and what solutions you have planned for when your stumbling blocks threaten your progress.

Just remember a good friend is like a good bra: they are always there to support you and they will life you when you are down!

Until tomorrow,

Day 4

Most of us in the States are probably familiar with the midnight ride of Paul Revere. He desperately rode through the Massachusetts countryside to alert John Hancock and Samuel Adams how the British were coming to fight the American patriots. “One if by land, two if by sea.”

Imagine how desperately Revere rode. His entire life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness depended on his success.

It is with the desperate and passionate spirit of Paul Revere I want to present today’s challenge: revere your body for who she is (or he, for the guys among us).

What if we were to revere our own bodies as desperately as Revere rode that night? What if we were to believe that our own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness didn’t depend on a diet, but on a healthy relationship with ourselves?

What if we desperately pursued our health and happiness as passionately as the early American patriots fought?

How would our relationships with ourselves change?

We may not be on the front lines battling for territory, but we have engaged daily in the fight for freedom: freedom from self-loathing, self-criticism, and self-hate.

Now just like those early soldiers, we’re outgunned and outnumbered. The beauty industry is a $445 billion industry dependent on men and women feeling deeply inadequate. The weight loss industry claimed $60 billion a year. Americans spent $8 billion in plastic surgery last year.

Every ad, commercial, post, picture, song, and magazine article is bent on one outcome: making you feeling inadequate about your body and the way you look and subsequently purchasing their product. (Check out this short video to see what I’m talking about:

So much of what we see in ads is false and airbrushed, yet we are told that if we don’t look like those artificial images, we have failed and we are worthless.

It’s hard to fight the incessant battering ram of messages that we’re not good enough.

But, we have a secret weapon: reverence.

Reverence is the profound adoring and awed respect we have for something.

Imagine what it would be like to revere your body for what it is: an incredible machine that breathes, blinks, and beats all without us asking.

Imagine looking into the mirror and saying “I accept you.” Or, “I am so grateful for my feet that carry me from place to place, my legs that keep me chasing after my kids and grandkids, my hands that serve my loved ones, my lungs that take in each breath without me asking, and my mind that refuses to quit on me.”

What if you were to revere your body, to have reverence your body, rather than hating your body?

The difference you would experience in your life would be as shocking as the scrappy Continental Army beating the trained European militia back in Paul Revere’s Day!

Again, I want to reiterate the power of reverence. Reverence is more than appreciation. It is the deep, adoring, respect we have for something. It is the most profound feeling of gratitude that we can feel. This deep feeling of awe, respect, and gratitude dramatically changes our relationships with ourselves, others, and food.

It takes time to rewire our brains and assumptions. If you’ve been telling yourself for years that you aren’t good enough, don’t expect change overnight. Accept that you’re working towards the goal of self-reverence. And appreciate the gains that you experience every day!

Start by telling yourself one thing that you appreciate about your body every single day. Soon you’ll find 2-3 things to be grateful about, and then 2-3 dozen things to be grateful about. The important thing is to start where you’re at and take baby steps every day towards creating not only a better future, but a more enjoyable now.

Today’s challenge is to take some time today to thank your body. I’m not going to tell you exactly how to do this, but some suggestions are to take a bath, put some lotion on, make a list of the things you are grateful for that your body does, or take a walk outside and enjoy each breath of fresh air.

I have every confidence in your commitment to and passion about reverencing your body.

Talk to you soon,

Day 5

When did eating become so complicated? Low-fat, low-carb, low- food, juice cleanses, keto, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, no sugar, gluten- free, organic, non-GMO, and the list goes on.

Just thinking about it, I get stressed!

When was the last time you tuned into your body?  Listening to hear how hungry or full it was, or asking it what it wanted?

When was the last time you received enjoyment and pleasure from a meal you ate?

Our mind loves to act as a hyperactive referee as we eat.

“Too many carbs on the field! Ten- yard penalty! Eating out of bounds!” You get evicted out of the game for eating a piece of cake and thrown out of the sport entirely for eating without counting calories (heaven forbid!).

Our internal referee is so restrictive we can hardly take a step without getting into trouble. We can’t enjoy the game of life because we’re so worried about breaking the rules.

And because we are always messing up, we give up. We accept defeat. We binge to shove the shame of failure away.

Would you believe me if I told you there was another way?

Think about where these rules came from. Who created the Endless Encyclopedia of Dieting Rules and Regulations?

I’ll tell you who:  the people and industry who depend on you dieting!

How did our ancestors survive thousands of years without calorie counters and scales? They listened to their bodies.

The secret to making peace with food and finding freedom is to throw out all the rules besides one: listen to your body, and honor what it tells you.

I shouldn’t be telling you this because you won’t need me anymore after you start to re-engage with your body! But I’m so invested in helping you succeed and find health and happiness that it’s worth it.

I know that being asked to throw away all food rules can feel like being asked to swim the length of the English Channel without a life preserver. You believe that without your food rules you’ll go crazy and eat everything in sight.

But that’s not true.

Scientists have found that when individuals were given absolute permission to eat any food they wanted, they ate less junk food and chose healthier options.

Your rules about what foods you can and cannot eat, when you can and cannot eat, and where you can and cannot eat, are not helping you. The restriction mentality makes those foods more desired, and the chances of you craving those foods skyrocket. Restriction usually leads to binging. For every diet, there is an equal and opposite binge.

It’s like if I tell you that you absolutely cannot think about penguins. Don’t do it! Whatever you do you cannot think about penguins. Especially how cute their penguin waddle is or how graceful they look as they swim. And absolutely do not think about a cute penguin family with a penguin mom, dad, and baby, hanging out on a floating iceberg together.

Did you manage to read that whole paragraph without thinking about a penguin?

I didn’t think so!

What’s going to happen if you tell yourself, “Don’t think about cookies. Don’t think about the cookies in the cupboard. I’m not thinking about the cookies; I don’t want the cookies! Man, I can’t do this. Those cookies would be so good. I love cookies. DON’T THINK ABOUT THE COOKIES!”

You’re going to think about the cookies. You’re only going to be able to think about the cookies. And… you’re probably going to eat the cookies. Not just one or two cookies. All the cookies. Telling yourself you can’t eat the cookies will likely lead to you eating all the cookies.

But, giving yourself unconditional permission to eat the cookies will decrease the mind’s obsession with the cookies, and you’ll find it easy and natural to make happier decisions.

So, do yourself a favor and throw out the rulebook. Dive into the deep end. Have enough faith in yourself that you’ll survive without the scale.

Today’s challenge is to re-engage with your body.  Listen to your hunger fullness signals, your taste buds, your satisfaction levels, and other messages that your body sends you. While learning to re-engage with your body, eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, and enjoy food again is a process that does take some time, we can start that process TODAY.

When you’re starting to feel hungry, make yourself a meal that is especially pleasing to you and your taste buds. Indulge yourself by taking the time to taste these favorite foods, savoring each bite.

A life of freedom from food awaits you! A life of pleasure and enjoyment calls you.

See you in the community,

Day 6

Stress is a part of life. Sometimes your husband or wife crashes the car on the way to work, or your daughter’s choice of partners is less than ideal. Your boss can be a royal pain, or money can be tight. Health concerns for you or your family can threaten life as you know it. In these moments, it’s crucial that you have a special space that you can retreat to.

I thought of this idea when I heard an incredible educator speak over the summer. She shared about a teacher who had created a “Quiet Corner” in her classroom. The corner was designated for students to relax or think when something stressful happened to them. The student could spend 10 minutes in the quiet corner before returning to activity at school.

One morning, a usually animated student entered the classroom and headed right to the quiet corner. He took ten minutes, and then ten more minutes.

He was unusually quiet and still. After about twenty minutes, he got up, went to his seat, and quietly started working.

During the morning break time, his teacher approached him and asked him if he was okay. He said, “My Uncle Johnny died over the weekend. I needed some time in the quiet corner to say goodbye to him. I knew that was the best place to do it.”

The teacher was touched. The student’s class elected to have a picture of Uncle Johnny placed in the quiet corner for the week as the student mourned the passing of his favorite uncle.

Upon hearing this story, I started thinking about how important space is. A well-cleaned, freshly-vacuumed living room is heaven on earth. A messy room with the 40 outfits you tried on before going out last night seriously contributes to the anxiety and stress of everyday life.

It’s not important if your space looks straight out of the Houseology catalogue. In this teacher’s classroom, the Quiet Corner was a desk, a comfortable chair, a plant, and an hourglass. It’s just important that you have space.

Having a “Quiet Corner” of your own will greatly help you manage the normal stress and anxiety of life. It will be a place where you can breathe, relax, and find inner peace again.

Today’s challenge is to redecorate. Create a special space in your house, a quiet corner for you and your family. This doesn’t have to be an expensive venture. In fact, this can be easily done for free!

Designate a corner of your house most conducive to happy thoughts and calm spirits. This can be in a quiet room, near a window, or somewhere comfortable. The only requirement is that this place can comfortably become your refuge when times get tough.

You can add your favorite pillow or plant. Hang your favorite photo nearby. Surround yourself with your favorite colors and textures. Vacuum the carpet and dust the desk. When your space has been created, take a picture and share what’s special about it for you! Bonus points if you sneak five minutes of relaxation in your new, special corner.

I’m looking forward to seeing your space, as well as hearing how it benefits your life!

Day 7

We love to work. The American dream is built on the idea that if you work hard enough, anything can happen. We take far too few vacation days, bring our work home with us, and are always thinking of what the “next thing” is. Our to-do lists stretch farther than the eye can see. When one thing is checked off, four things are added. Consequently, our minds and bodies become exhausted, overworked, and burnt out.

And not just Americans feel this way.

We act as if rest will be the downfall of our success. If we don’t work achieve every accomplishment a resume could desire, we have wasted our time.

This attitude is present in the dieting and fitness industry, where the answer to every health-related question is, “You just need more willpower.  Work harder!”

But we can find balance in all things. While resting seems counterintuitive to our goals, the time we take resting restores our strength and gives us an increased capacity for work. Work must be balanced with rest; movement with meditation; the desire to improve with acceptance of the now.

Our minds have difficulty holding two opposing ideas at once. But in the synthesis of two opposing ideas – like work and rest – we find harmony, balance, and rejuvenation.

Harmony is created only when two complementary notes are playing!

The need for balance between work and rest is spoken of as early as the earliest Jewish and Christian text: God created all things in six days and on the seventh, He rested from His labors.

And if God takes naps every so often, so should we!

Or, in the words of Buddha: “Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all.”

The winds of circumstance are always blowing situations and people in and out of our lives. Sometimes this air is as sweet as a warm summer breeze. Sometimes it’s as icy as the sharp winter cold air in Fargo, North Dakota. But we can find rest in them all. The ability to relax no matter what the circumstances are a crucial ingredient in the recipe for happiness.

(Other ingredients include hugs, coffee, and Great Danes.)

So, after all the work you’ve done this week, it’s time to take a break! Settle down in the special space you created yesterday, or in a quiet location, and rest for at least ten minutes.

You can breathe, listen to music, or do something else that is relaxing. As you do so, remember the wonderful things you have done not only this week but throughout the last few years. Be grateful for these things that you have done.

Some say that gratitude is the father of all virtues. As you take time to be grateful for yourself and what you have done, all other virtues like work, acceptance, happiness, and love will follow.

Go relax!!!! Chill out. And if anyone gives you grief about it, tell them I sent you and it’s a part of your homework. ☺

I’m looking forward to hearing what things about yourself make you most grateful!

Until tomorrow,

Day 8

Wow. Eight days gone, just like that. Can you believe it?

Think about what you’ve accomplished this week. You’ve:

  • Recommitted
  • Re-evaluated
  • Relied
  • Revered
  • Re-engaged
  • Redecorated
  • Rested

Which challenge has resonated most with you? What had the most heart and meaning?

Yesterday we talked about resting and taking a few moments to recognize what you appreciate about yourself.

I want you to think back to what it has felt like this week as you have recommitted to yourself repeatedly. What has changed between the first week of January to now?

Do you feel a difference? Do you feel the power of self-love warming your heart?

People always talk about how hard it is to remember things. We forget where we left our keys, the name of that obnoxious neighbor all those years ago, or that our mom told us to do the dishes. Yes, it is hard to remember.

But isn’t it harder to forget?

When we forget what we have learned, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past over and over again.

We spend months, years, and decades in the same horrible cycles.

We fight against ourselves and our situations, banging our head against a door that refuses to open, never noticing the open window halfway down the hall.

Forgetting what we have learned this week will be much harder on ourselves that the effort it will require remembering.

Today’s challenge is to REFLECT on what you’ve learned this week and how this week has gone. What’s worked? What hasn’t? Do you feel more self- appreciation? How has your relationship with yourself, with others, and your

life changed as you’ve put more emphasis on loving and appreciating yourself? Tell the community the change you’re most excited about or challenge that most resonated, and what you will carry with you from the challenge in the coming weeks and months.

I can’t wait to hear about your results from this week, and I’m even more excited to continue this journey with you!

  • Day One: Recommit. Recommit to yourself and your health, and commit to this challenge.
  • Day Two: Reevaluate. Reevaluate your goals, your values, your beliefs, your lifestyle.
  • Day Three: Rely. Rely on a friend or loved one and share your goals with him or her.
  • Day Four: Revere. Revere your body for what he or she is.
  • Day Five: Rejuvenate. Rejuvenate your soul by doing something that you enjoy.
  • Day Six: Redecorate. Redecorate a sacred space in your home.
  • Day Seven: Rest & Remember. Take some time in that beautiful space you just created, and write about the incredible things you do and the amazing human that you are. Revel in your greatness!
  • Day Eight: Results. What results have you seen by committing to love and accept yourself?
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 The Author


Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin is a psychoanalyst, author and radio host specializing in binge eating disorder. She is the author of The Binge Cure: 7 Steps to Outsmart Emotional Eating and Food for Thought: Perspectives on Eating Disorders, and co-editor of Beyond the Primal Addiction. She hosts The Dr. Nina Show radio program on LA Talk Radio.

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