Does Self-Compassion Help With Weight Loss?

Does Self-Compassion Help With Weight Loss?


Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can be a holistic journey, especially in a world where tempting, calorie-laden foods are readily available. Despite our best intentions, the journey often involves moments of overindulgence, leading to frustration and a sense of defeat. A recent study from the Center for Weight, Eating, and Lifestyle Sciences (WELL Center) at Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences delves into the role of self-compassion in promoting resilience during these setbacks within the context of holistic wellness.

Published in the journal Appetite, the study reveals that individuals who responded to their lapses with self-compassion reported not only an improvement in mood but also a heightened sense of self-control over both their eating habits and exercise routines in the hours following these setbacks. This suggests that integrating self-compassion into one’s holistic wellness approach can positively impact weight loss efforts by mitigating the demoralizing effects of setbacks.

How Self-Compassion Works

Self-compassion is not about complacency but rather a tool for success in the holistic pursuit of weight loss. The path to achieving comprehensive wellness, including weight management, is often marked by challenges and setbacks. By practicing self-compassion, individuals can effectively navigate self-defeating thoughts and emotions triggered by these setbacks, fostering a quicker return to their holistic wellness goals.

The study involved 140 participants engaged in a group-based lifestyle modification program, aligning with the principles of holistic wellness. Participants provided real-time responses to surveys on their smartphones, reporting instances of dietary lapses and their corresponding levels of self-compassion. The researchers also gathered data on participants’ moods and their ability to exercise self-control over eating and exercise behaviors since their last survey response.

Weight management within the holistic wellness framework is difficult. Individuals often blame themselves for a perceived lack of willpower, but this isn’t why people lose or don’t lose weight. Recognizing the challenges posed by the modern food environment, she advocates for the integration of self-compassion over self-criticism within the holistic wellness journey. Instead of resorting to self-blame, individuals are encouraged to adopt a kinder internal dialogue, aligning with the holistic principles of self-care and mindfulness.

For instance, rather than chastising oneself with statements like “You have no willpower,” a more holistic and compassionate approach would be to say, “You’re doing your best in a world that makes weight management challenging.” This approach doesn’t absolve individuals of responsibility but rather offers them the grace to navigate the demanding process of holistic wellness.

The research team envisions that these findings could inform more effective holistic wellness interventions, teaching individuals how to seamlessly integrate self-compassion during setbacks such as overeating or weight gain. They aim to explore holistic strategies that balance self-compassion with accountability, empowering individuals to uphold their holistic wellness standards and goals while minimizing self-blame and criticism.

Are you too hard on yourself when you diet? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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