Self Compassion vs. Self Control

One thing I’ve learned in my journey is that beating yourself up after straying from healthy eating just adds insult to injury when it comes to achieving weight loss goals.

After an afternoon or evening of indulgence of sweets or carbs that I didn’t need, here’s my old inner dialogue:

“You’re so weak!” // “How could you do that!” //”What’s the point?” //”You’re going to pay for that tomorrow!” //”I’m out of control!”

Sound familiar? Everyone has that inner voice that scolds them for less than wise choices. I used to let that voice get the best of me which not only left me feeling anxious and guilty — but ultimately it also sucked out any motivation to stick to a healthy eating plan.

Bottomline, is that the more you allow negativity to take over, the more it will hold you back.

The problem is that so many chronic dieters fear that self-compassion only breeds more self-indulgence.

We’ve been conditioned in this culture that being hard on yourself is the only way to keep yourself in line.

But think about it, let’s say a young child was struggling in school or learning a new skill.  Most parents would offer kind words and supportive guidance.

But as adults, when we find ourselves in a similar situation — struggling at work, overeating and gaining weight — we tend to fall into a cycle of negativity, which only leaves us feeling more stressed  – the perfect recipe for more self-sabotaging behaviors.

So, here’s the deal:

Change more readily happens from a place of self-acceptance. 

The research is clear – Studies show that being kind to yourself has positive concrete effects on behavior and physical well being.

Inspiration and momentum to take care of yourself comes from feeling worthy and deserving of being healthy not because you’re inadequate. 

So, if you’re secretly hating your body while doing all the “right” things when it comes to food and exercise, trust me you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Weight loss fueled by negative mind chatter and self-critcism is a failed strategy. 

The decision to make changes in your life that allow you to be healthier and happier must be borne out of genuine care and concern for yourself – not because you believe yourself to be deficient and unacceptable as you are. 

When we learn to relate to ourselves with kindness, even to those parts we want to be different, we feel good.

Our bodies can relax, we gain a sense of harmony and that toxic inner turmoil that wreaks havoc can begin to subside.

This frees our mind to perceive our life’s circumstance in new empowering ways.

Feeling good about yourself energizes you to take effective action for lasting positive change to happen.  

Here are some tips for practicing self-acceptance and remembering that getting “control” on food issues is a journey, not a race.

1) Flip Negative to Positive: i.e. instead of saying “I cheated ” try “I made a choice to eat ____, but that’s okay. It didn’t ruin my whole day and I’m going to get right back on track.”

2) Focus on the Positive Not Perfection: Celebrate every little victory. Did you skip dessert? Yay! Did you start your day with a delicious smoothie? Awesome! Did you drink more water? Celebrate! Every healthy choice you make deserves positive reinforcement.

3) Honor Your Feelings:  If you have an emotion that you don’t want to feel, be courageous enough to stay with the feeling, name it; e.g. I feel bored / sad / overwhelmed etc.… Instead of “eating” your feelings, pause and say to yourself, “this is a really tough time right now”, “how can I care and comfort myself in this moment?” 

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