Losing weight isn’t always easy. Especially since prejudices persist against obese people and we can be hard on ourselves if we fail to lose weight. Would practicing self-compassion, that is, being more understanding of one’s behavior, make it possible to better achieve one’s goals? This is what a study seems to show.
When we want to lose weight, we set goals that are sometimes difficult to achieve. We can also be hard on ourselves, as prejudices regarding obesity are so tenacious. Could being self-compassionate and therefore ultimately more understanding towards yourself help you better achieve your goals? This is the question asked by researchers at Drexel University in the United States.
Can practicing self-compassion help people achieve their weight loss goals?
In this work, the scientists, led by Professor Charlotte Hagerman, lead author of the study, collected data from a group of 140 participants who were trying to lose weight through a lifestyle modification program in band. Participants completed surveys on their smartphones several times a day.
Objective: to determine if they had eaten more than expected. This could be, for example, a food that they did not intend to eat or at a time when they should not have eaten it. Based on this data, the researchers attempted to estimate the “amount” of self-compassion with which the participants responded. The volunteers’ mood was also surveyed by the experts.
Being kind to yourself is a better way to achieve your goals
Results: Researchers found that when participants showed more kindness to themselves, they also had better mood and better control over their eating behavior afterward.
This seems counterintuitive, as Professor Charlotte Hagerman points out. “Many people worry that self-compassion causes complacency and complacency, but this study is a great example of how self-compassion can help people better achieve their goals.” she explained. “The path to achieving difficult goals — especially weight loss — is paved with setbacks. Practicing self-compassion helps people deal with self-defeating thoughts and feelings in response to setbacks, so they are less debilitated. They can then resume the pursuit of their objectives more quickly.”.
The key to success: talking to yourself like a friend
In conclusion, scientists point out the difficulty in the weight loss process and believe that people blame themselves a lot for their failures. “Practicing self-compassion rather than self-criticism is a key strategy for fostering resilience during the difficult weight loss process.” they note.
Before calling back: “The next time you feel the urge to criticize yourself for your eating behavior, instead try speaking to yourself in the kind way you would speak to a friend or loved one“.