Do not be a scale watcher. Are you? Unbelievably, one of the best ways to lose weight is with a positive mindset – developing self-compassion. When someone has a weight loss goal, they generally experience a variety of temporary setbacks. Having a setback does not constitute failure. A setback is only temporary.

Setbacks due to negativity
Have you heard of the limit violation effect? It is caused by negative self-thoughts about breaking a diet and is when people blame themselves for harmful actions such as drinking too much or eating unhealthy food. They end up repeating those behaviors to a greater extent to cope with the problem.

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Thus, eating is a coping mechanism for escaping negative thoughts and self-awareness and, eating poorly only exacerbates the situation by providing any short-lived relief. You must remember that success rarely comes from a place of negativity. As an example, dieters usually fail to find compassion when they think of past mistakes such as ‘It is my fault I cannot have a cookie now’ or, when they fail, e.g., ‘Of course I failed, which is why I gained weight in the first place.’ At this point, some individuals consider him or herself a loser. Do not buy into this attitude.

By direct contrast, research suggests that having a positive-body image is correlated with successful weight loss and long-term maintenance. This suggests a real key to weight loss is self-compassion. In other words, if you do not reach your goal(s) when you want to or how you want to, do not beat yourself up about them. Be persistent and stay the course.

It is not Just about a Diet or a Program!
Remember that self-compassion is a kinder approach toward yourself and understand that your experiences are part of what everyone goes through during challenging times. After all, self-compassion is offering nonjudgmental understanding to one’s inadequacies and failures, so that one’s experience is seen as part of the larger human experience. It is also characterized by kindness toward yourself and mindfulness.

The key benefit of self-compassion is that you learn to recognize harmful and self-destructive behavior and evaluate it in a non-threatening manner. This allows you to improve self-regulatory capabilities, not only short, but also long-term. When you link self-compassion to weight loss, it helps you respect your health, and give up behaviors that are counterproductive to your well-being.

There is much research that supports the notion that self-compassion training may be useful for long-term weight loss. In one experiment, men who were taught self-compassion meditation with mindfulness meditation fared better with long-term weight loss than those who were only taught mindfulness meditation, as well as those in the control group who only received educational information. It really shows the power of positivity.

The fact is, everyone eats unhealthily sometimes; you should not beat yourself up about it, but do not make it a daily habit either. Individuals who are rigid dieters generally have more negative feelings toward their eating behavior than more flexible eaters. Rigid dieters will also typically eat more candy than flexible dieters, demonstrating the limit volition effect unless they have been schooled in self-compassion.

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However, it’s not all about self-compassion since problems such as obesity, a complex problem and sometimes called a disease, has many components that must be addressed. But, learning self-compassion may be an essential tool to helping individuals cope with their weight besides just designing a workout program and or eating healthy.

Let’s look at an example. Suppose you want to lose 30 pounds. Why is the goal of losing 30 pounds important? Do you want to look better in clothes? What is your answer? No matter what answer you give, I would again ask, why? This exercise will force you to dig into the deepest level of your intrinsic motivations. And, it will help you arrive at the higher-level goal for the right reasons. For example, Susan wants to lose 30 pounds. Why? To look better in clothes. Why? To gain better confidence. Why? To be a happier, healthier person. . . .

Although self-compassion is highly useful for people who tend to follow highly restrictive diets and who often suffer from feelings of guilt. Despite this, it works in conjunction with a good program and trying to eat healthy. They key is to be flexible and do not be a scale watcher.

Following is a short checklist of psychological aspects of weight loss you can work on:

  • Dig deep into the ‘why’ behind your goal to lose weight. This will help you create the intrinsic desire to improve for the right reasons.
  • Be kind to yourself; the negative self-talk (“Darn it, I have no self-control!”) should be replaced by understanding your struggles; it will help keep focus to continual improvement rather than succumbing to helplessness.
  • Self-compassion is important when you’ve dropped off your goals, but only if you pick yourself back up and continue.
  • Do not be too rigid in your diet if you have one, be more flexible, which will allow greater food variety and better health long-term.

Finally, always remember that weight loss and health maintenance are long-term processes. While we likely will not be perfect at them, we can strive to be. Highly restrictive and guilt-ridden dieting are almost always associated with negative feelings and emotions that are likely to cause more harmful behavior. Stay positive and have a happy and healthy day.



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