By KATIE WATTS / Petaluma Towns Correspondent
Michelle Minero wears a charm bracelet. On it is a small sterling book, engraved with two dates: 2004 and 2013, commemorating the nine years it took her to write “The Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works.”
Now 58, she can add author to her list of accomplishments: wife, mother, grandmother and marriage and family therapist.
When she began, Minero says, “I was working full time, so I wrote a little here and there: weekends, before and after work. And I took writing classes, because I had to learn how to write at the same time.”
Minero smiles and laughs a great deal, and she does so at the idea of learning how to writing a book while writing one.
“If I want to do something, I jump into it,” she explains. “If you have the passion, you’ll do what it takes.”
This isn’t the first time she’s had the passion to do something. In 1988 she was the mother of four young children, the oldest of which was 8. At that time, her passion was counseling.
She went back to school to become an MFT, which required her to spend 3,000 hours as an intern counselor. That took six years. She got her license in 1994 and almost immediately began to focus on compulsive overeating.
The subject was of interest to her because she could relate. She also had struggled with weight and eating problems.
“I began doing talks and holding support groups,” she says. “Then a young woman with anorexia came to my talk and asked if I would work with her. I didn’t know how to do that, but she said she wanted to work with me.”
Again Minero took classes, and over time has become a well-known eating disorder specialist. She speaks frankly about her struggles with weight.
“My sense of self was about what my body looked like. Before, I used to wake up every morning and think, ‘What am I going to eat?’ I would step on the scale, and that would tell me if it would be a good or bad day.”
Helping someone overcome an eating disorder is a long-term process, she said. “It’s complicated, takes special training and a treatment team. Not just a therapist but a registered dietitian, a doctor, sometimes a psychiatrist.
“But,” she says reassuringly, “people do recover, they do get cured. And how rich your life can be when it’s not taken over by all that (negative body image) junk.
“I feel so blessed to have my job,” she says. “It’s quite amazing, the work I do. I used to call it my ministry. To me, it’s like a calling.”
Minero says she has become better at accepting herself after writing the book.
So, what’s the focus of the book?
“I think the world today is in trouble,” she says, “climate change, government, politics to name three. A lot of people are concerned. Will this world be here for their children and grandchildren? There’s despair, apathy, because people believe they can’t do something about it.
“But I think the answer to helping our world is changing our internal process. If we start with loving ourselves, this helps us with our relationships. Then, whatever culture we’re in, we can effect a positive change, leading to change in the world.”
What she does with the book is teach people to accept themselves.
“A lot of them have a belief system that tells them they’re not lovable. The self sometimes gets confused with the body,” Minero says.
She helps people think of their bodies as instruments, not ornaments; helps them find parts of their bodies, qualities within them they can love.
“Our bodies give and do all this for us,” she says. “How can you not appreciate and love what they do for you? I slowly bring them to acceptance and love as they are in this moment, not that you’ll love your body when you’ve lost so many pounds, but now.
“When you start thinking loving thoughts about your body, usually everyone can find one thing. We start there, and look forward to what you love, not what you hate.”
That’s where the healing begins. It may sound simplistic, but it’s difficult and takes practice. Mastering it, she says,
However, even though it’s hard, she emphasizes it does work and, if a person masters it, “is the most positive think they’ve ever done, and they can’t kept it to themselves. They have to share it.”
Minero signs copies of her book from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at Readers Books, 130 E. Napa St., Sonoma. Also signing that evening will be her daughter, Renee Ho, author of “The Friendship Effect.” In Petaluma, Minero signs from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at Copperfield’s Books, 140 Kentucky St.