Self-Compassion as a Stepping Stone to Health Behavior Change

Self-compassion, as it turns out, demands that we go beyond our comfort zones. While compassion may seem like the complete opposite of courage, I soon learned that courage and self-compassion actually came hand-in-hand.  Research shows that self-awareness plays a huge part in developing health behavior change, but if the awareness of ourselves is generally unpleasant, then we may look to food or other concrete aspects (like cigarettes, alcohol, etc) of life instead of long-term health goals (Adams & Leary, 2007).  Through better understanding of the self, however, my research has shown that self-compassion can help us acknowledge visible flaws that we might be willing to act upon. 

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3 Weight Management Secrets

Since the 2008 figures from the National Statistics Coordination Board Survey, I have learned that 27 out of 100 Filipinos are obese. My research has taught me that obesity,which may be caused by heredity and / or environmental and behavioral factors, can create high risks for several morbidities such as coronary heart disease,diabetes, and cancer (Ogden, 2007). Those who may be experiencing obesity may also face liver and kidney failure and have trouble moving and breathing due to the regional distribution of adipose tissue which may collect in areas that restrict blood flow (Wing and Phelan, 2012).

In my years of experience, I have learned to pay attention to the smaller things that have affected weight management. I noticed that clients who are struggling to keep their weight down tend to neglect these three very important things. 

Here are 3 secrets that can help facilitate your process: 

1. Keep record of your WINS. There is an exercise in positive psychology on gratitude that has you write down the things you are grateful for each day. This is kind of like it, only you’re recording your daily WINS (no matter how big or small). There is research that tells us that feelings of pride born out of accomplishment produce the urge to achieve more. By keeping track of our daily wins, we cultivate the positive feelings of pride and pay tribute to our self-esteem. 

2. Acknowledge every craving and surf it. There is research that shows that when you can “surf the urge”, you are better able to enhance your own will power. Therefore, surfing the urge begins with acknowledging the craving and riding the wave of feelings that accompany it. Scientists have proven that when you can hold out a little longer, then it eventually just goes away. 

3. Get 8 hours of sleep. This is no mental exercise but it takes discipline to even get 8 hours of sleep. But why is sleep so important? 

When you get the right amount of sleep, your body is able to better reconstruct itself. Your growth hormones are activated when you sleep and your body rebuilds itself. When you lack sleep, your body releases more cortisol (a stress hormone) that signals your body to conserve energy; it does this by storing fat when it goes into survival mode. 

Next time you even consider staying up late, ask yourself if you will be able to get 8 hours of sleep. And if you know you won’t be, go home and make sure that you do. 

These tips are simple, but the discipline in cultivating positive emotions, getting enough rest, and learning how to surf the urge, build the appropriate resources you will need to achieve your goal. At the end of the day, health management is all about your decisions and what you do to make it right. ;)