“I exercised this morning, so I’ve earned this pizza/cake/chocolate/crisps."
"I’m stressed out after a tough day, and I need a G&T, glass of wine, nibbles…….to help me relax."
"I can treat myself. It’s the weekend, and been ‘good’ all week."
Many people sabotage their weight loss goals. Let’s look at how to recognize self-sabotaging and see whether this applies to you, if so, this might help you understand why you might be doing it, and work out how to overcome it.
Are You a Self-Sabotager?
Do any of these sounds like you:
-You’re careful for a while, lose some weight, and improve your fitness… then gradually revert back to your old ways...
-You know exactly what to do, but can’t seem to do it. You feel like you could write a diet book with everything you know about weight loss. But you don't act on it...
The truth is, there’s a huge difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it. It’s easy to hop from one diet to the next without ever sticking with anything. Success (or lack thereof) comes down to our mindset, psychology, and habits.
No diet that is solely based on the food you eat will help you figure out why you gained weight in the first place. A diet won't fix emotional, mindless, stress-induced eating, and it won't fix habitual, compulsive binge-eating. Basically, a diet won't get to the root cause of why you overeat.
People often think a fear of failure is holding them back. I frequently hear, "I don't want this to be yet another failed diet attempt." But surprisingly, it's a fear of success that holds people back the most. The best diet won't matter—no matter how determined you might feel—if a part of you wants to destroy progress toward your goals.
Self-Sabotage Happens When You’re Scared of Success
Why would you be scared of success? As in scared of achieving your fitness or fat loss goals? Well, if you're successful, any number of fears could be realised. For instance, you won't have food as a way to temporarily escape or quiet your mind at work or home. Or you'll have to deal with uncomfortable feelings such as self-doubt, regret, disappointment, or fear (because you're not suppressing them with food).
Maybe you'll lose the "Once I lose the weight I will finally..." safety blanket that protects you from taking action on an intimidating (but ultimately rewarding) prospect.
These are real psychological roadblocks, but nothing that can’t be overcome. To break from a pattern of self-sabotage, you need to get to the root of why you’re sabotaging yourself. Try the exercise below, this could lead you to a breakthrough and a little more self awareness or understanding.
We fall off the ‘wagon’ because a part of us isn't sure that the goal we're working toward is going to make our lives better. This causes inner conflict, and when there's inner conflict, we do the easiest thing of all: nothing.
Doing this could help you determine what’s really holding you back:
1. List five reasons you believe your life will be worse off when you achieve your goal.
Here are some sample answers:
- Nothing ever works long-term…….. I don’t feel like it’s possible, so why bother trying
- I’ve tried everything….
-I don’t want to stop drinking alcohol……
-I'm scared….. what if I have to buy all new clothes……
-I'm worried I’ll never being able to eat my favourite foods again and I'll always feel deprived
-I don’t want to exercise for hours every day
These reasons all have one thing in common: our powerful subconscious minds believe that rationalising ourselves out of weight loss will protect us. But once we identify the real reasons that we’re holding ourselves back, we can begin to counter them.
2. Challenge your fears.
Question your reasons and poke holes in their logic so you can remove their power.
Is it really true that nothing works long-term? You’ve seen other people accomplish weight-loss goals, and you’re just as capable as they are. Perhaps what you've tried wasn't sustainable. You’re worth looking after, have another go! Our desire to lose weight and improve our health doesn't fade; we just tend to either realise our goals or rationalise them away when achieving them gets challenging. And if we're honest, "everyone" usually comes down to just a few people, anyway.
You can still enjoy alcohol! However, there has to be a balance between living for today and living for tomorrow. One solution is to be selective of what, where, and when you indulge. Try this: Ask yourself, Will I remember this glass of wine/G&T in two weeks? If so, go for it. If not, skip it.
I'm scared … what if I have to buy new clothes….?
What about are you scared of? Start saving now! Plan a day, plan or think about some of the things you might need to buy! Enjoy the process!
I'm worried that I’ll never being able to eat my favourite foods again and I'll always feel deprived. Any programme that demands you give up your favourite foods is ridiculous. Deprivation is not sustainable. You can enjoy your favourite foods while losing weight. Let’s learn how to be fit and happy, not fit and miserable. If you don’t enjoy your life as you’re losing weight, you’ll never be able to sustain your weight loss, so you will self sabotage and not stick with the healthy eating for the long term.
I don’t want to exercise for hours every day. You don't have to! Eighty percent of weight loss is diet or nutrition, which is a phrase I prefer. Diet for me conjures up all sorts of negativity and self deprivation and I do not do well with that! Nutrition is about what, why, and how we eat. This is why you see people working their butts off in the gym month after month, or in classes and even with a trainer, but looking no different. It’s what you do in conjunction with the exercise that makes all the difference.
Now that you’ve challenged your fears, you can counter them with how you believe your life will be better if you do lose weight.
3. List five reasons you believe your life will be better once you achieve your goal.
Here are some examples:
-I’ll be healthier and reduce my chances of getting preventable diseases
-I’ll have more energy for myself and my family
-I’ll feel happy to be in photos instead of hiding away from the camera
-I’ll be a good role model for my children so they don’t repeat my negative food behaviours
-I will finally stop worrying about my weight
Until we identify and deal with the reasons we fear success, we'll never be successful. A lack of knowledge about what’s good for us is rarely the real problem in this day and age. Instead, we tend to suffer from a lack of consistent action... and that usually comes down to what's going on between our ears.