A study from Drexel University’s WELL Center suggests that self-compassion could be a crucial factor in successful weight loss.
The research, published in the journal Appetite, explores how treating oneself with kindness and understanding, as one would a loved one, can enhance resilience against overeating setbacks commonly experienced during weight loss efforts.
Weight loss is a challenging journey, often fraught with setbacks like overeating. These moments can be demoralizing, leading many to abandon their goals.
However, this new study indicates that a self-compassionate response to such lapses can lead to better mood and improved self-control over eating and exercise behaviors.
The study, led by Charlotte Hagerman, PhD, an assistant research professor at Drexel University, involved 140 participants enrolled in a weight loss program.
Participants used smartphone surveys multiple times a day to report dietary lapses and their emotional responses to these setbacks.
The researchers found that those who responded to their lapses with self-compassion reported better outcomes in terms of mood and self-control.
This finding challenges the common worry that self-compassion might lead to complacency. Instead, it shows that self-compassion can make people more successful in achieving difficult goals like weight loss.
It helps individuals cope with negative thoughts and feelings, enabling them to return to their goals more quickly after a setback.
The researchers emphasize the difficulty of weight loss in a world where high-calorie food is readily available, making lapses almost inevitable. Instead of self-criticism, adopting a self-compassionate approach can be more effective.
For example, replacing thoughts like “You have no willpower” with “You’re trying your best in a challenging environment” can foster resilience and a healthier attitude towards weight loss.
The study aims to inform more effective interventions that teach people to practice self-compassion, especially during setbacks.
Future research will focus on finding the best strategies for cultivating true self-compassion, which involves reducing self-blame while maintaining accountability to personal standards and goals.
This research highlights that self-compassion and personal accountability can coexist and work together in the weight loss process.
By learning to be kinder to oneself during challenging moments, individuals can improve their chances of long-term success in weight management and overall health.
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The research findings can be found in Appetite.
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