Self Compassion and Weight Loss

Self-compassion is not just something that makes us healthier, it is also necessary for successful weight management and to maintain healthy habits long-term.

Today, there is plenty of research that shows self-compassion is linked to improved health, wellness, weight loss, and weight management. But before we dive into the details pertaining to self-compassion and weight management, it’s important we define self-compassion.

Self-compassion can be broken down into three main definitions. The first and most obvious definition is self-kindness: being kind, caring, and loving to oneself. The second is common humanity: recognizing that setbacks, personal feelings, and mistakes are all part of being human. The third, and arguably most difficult to master is mindfulness: being able to notice and be present in a nonjudgmental way. Self-compassion asks us to recognize our own pain and suffering as part of the human experience and to respond to that pain with mindfulness and kindness.

Exercising self-compassion has been proven to lower levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. In this way, self-compassion is not just something that makes us healthier, it is also necessary for successful weight management and to maintain healthy habits long-term.

At Vital Body, our weight loss coaches are the first to tell our clients that managing weight after weight loss can be a difficult, non-linear, process. For many people it’s often the case that weight loss isn’t the hardest part; it’s weight maintenance that is the real challenge, and there’s good reason for this. After weight loss, our bodies think that we’ve just been through a famine, and in response, the body will employ numerous systems to try to restore the lost weight, some examples of how are: reducing metabolism, increasing hunger and appetite, or perhaps even a combination of all three.

This can be particularly challenging because not only are we fighting our own bodies to try to maintain weight loss, but we are also often faced with an environment that actively undermines healthy choices. Have you ever seen a billboard advertising broccoli? If you have, it definitely isn’t as common as the advertisements you’ve seen offering some meal or treat that likely is highly-processed, packed with sugar or has many more calories than you need. 

It’s not just ads that can trigger us, culturally we use food as rewards, to express support and affection, and to socialize. Holidays can be difficult for many people during weight maintenance and because most, if not all, are centered around a shared meal. Shared work spaces, when we go back to those, can present struggles as well, it’s more likely you will find donuts at a meeting than a plate of fruits or vegetables.  As a result of all these pressures, it is a common occurrence to “fall off the wagon”. 

Self-compassion is a tool that can be used to help get you back on the wagon, and quickly! Falling off the wagon can be a slippery slope, when we shame and blame ourselves (or get shamed and blamed by others), we go back to the unhealthy habits. It’s when we feel supported, understood, and safe that we do new and difficult things. 

To help get you back on-track, here is one way to be more compassionate. Start by thinking of how many factors influence weight that are not your choice and not your fault. You didn’t choose to be born in this era in the Western world where unhealthy food is the norm and plentiful, you didn’t choose your genetics, you didn’t choose your parents, you didn’t choose to have a brain that is hardwired to crave sugar. All these things influence weight, and they are not your fault and not your choice. Use this reality check to gain some needed perspective that can help you be kinder to yourself (or others) about the fact that managing weight is actually very difficult. 

So, the next time you eat too much, or drink more than you wanted to, or skip the gym, do what you can to respond to yourself with kindness. 

  • Recognize that everyone has setbacks, and that whatever “mistake” you made you were likely acting the way millions of years of evolution have shaped you to act. 
  • Acknowledge that weight management is really hard.
  • Respond gently and kindly to your setback so that you can get back on the wagon. And, in the event that you don’t respond kindly in the face of a setback, this is one more place we ask you to be kind to yourself too.

For more techniques to help you manage triggers that arise and knock you off your goal of health and weight loss, be sure to give our article How To Avoid Triggers a read. 

Or, for those who need a bit more support than a blog post can offer, don’t forget you can lean on your Vital Body weight loss coach for judgment-free guidance and advice of all kinds! 

If you’re not a Vital Body client we still welcome you to leverage the support of a coach by booking a free virtual consultation, schedule yours today!

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