Self-compassion plays a role in Canadian women athletes’ body appreciation and intuitive eating: A mixed methods approach

Margo E. K. Adam *, Kent C. Kowalski *, Rachel L. Duckham **, Leah J. Ferguson * and Amber D. Mosewich ***

(*) University of Saskatchewan, College of Kinesiology, Saskatoon, Canada
(**) Deakin University, School of Exercise and Nutrition Science, Melbourne, Australia
(***) University of Alberta, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, Edmonton, Canada

Citation

E. K. Adam, M., C. Kowalski, K., L. Duckham, R., J. Ferguson, L., D. Mosewich, A. (2021). Self-compassion plays a role in Canadian women athletes’ body appreciation and intuitive eating: A mixed methods approach. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 52(4), 287-309. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2021.52.287

Abstract

Researchers propose self-compassion as a resource for athletes; yet, it remains unclear how self-compassion relates to athletes’ positive body and eating experiences in sport. The purpose of this research was to explore the role of self-compassion in Canadian women athletes’ body appreciation and intuitive eating, applying an explanatory sequential mixed methods design. Quantitative results (n=90) highlight that self-compassion was positively related to body appreciation (r=.68, p< .01) and intuitive eating (r=.53, p< .01) and negatively related to disordered eating (r=-.59, p< .01), compulsive exercise (r=-.37, p< .01), and state self-criticism (r=-.45, p< .01). Further, self-compassion contributed beyond self-esteem in study variables (DR2s .04 to .09, ps <.01). Three generated themes highlight women’s experiences (n=6): (a) the uniqueness of sport, (b) compassionate awareness, and (c) personalized expectations. The findings highlight that self-compassion plays a role in Canadian women athletes’ body and eating attitudes by promoting adaptive perspectives, and protecting and facilitating well-being.

Keywords: Body image, Female athletes, Positive psychology, Sport, Well-being


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