Self-Sabotage and Weight Loss

Did you know the second Friday in January is Quitters Day–the day by which most people have abandoned those New Year’s resolutions? Even if you’re still hanging in there, you may feel the urge to self-sabotage your weight loss efforts.

What do I mean by that? I’m referring to that little voice in your head that tells you that a little chocolate cake won’t hurt. The one screaming at you to stay in bed when your alarm goes off for your 5:30 a.m. fitness class.

In this post, I’ll share three reasons you might be tempted to self-sabotage when trying to lose weight. I’ll also give you some tips on stopping this nonsense so you can finally get off the diet roller coaster!

What’s the Deal With Self-Sabotage and Weight Loss?

Everyone is different, of course. But in my experience as a weight loss dietitian, there are three main reasons why you might self-sabotage your weight loss diet:

You Can’t Deal with Uncertainty

If you’re here because you’re tired of self-sabotaging your weight-loss efforts, I’m guessing this isn’t your first diet rodeo.

There’s no judgment here–most people have dieted for weight loss more than once. According to a 2020 study, adults lost and regained weight 7.8 times, on average, throughout their lifespan.

The saddest part of this study: Depressive symptoms significantly increased among those who’d tried (and failed) the most diets.

When you’ve lost and regained weight a few times, it’s understandable if the thought of “failure” scares the crap out of you. And sometimes, it feels safer to assume you’ll get burned again than it does to hope you’ll succeed.

This type of self-sabotage can also creep in when you’re worried about how life might change after weight loss. Will your relationships change? Will you need to buy all new clothes? Questions like these can provoke anxiety, even when thinking about a positive change.

And so, you do the more certain thing. You eat those cookies, skip the gym for weeks, or reward yourself for a day of “good” eating with a venti frappuccino.

In my experience, staying in the moment is the best way to keep this self-sabotage from hindering weight loss.

And the best way to do that is to focus less on the number on the scale. You could do everything right and STILL never see that number. Even if you achieve it, there are no guarantees you’ll feel happier or more confident.

Instead, focus on the daily habits supporting your weight loss goal, like eating more veggies and getting your steps in. Tracking your habits will help increase your confidence, making you less likely to self-sabotage your weight loss.

You Need To Love Yourself More

Have you ever had someone you don’t like ask you for a favor?

Whether it’s your boss, a neighbor, or that annoying mom in PTA, I’m guessing you’re not stoked about doing nice things for someone you hate.

Guess what?

The same goes for YOU, my friend.

It’s so much harder to eat healthy, go to bed on time, hit the gym, and show your body the love it needs to lose weight if you don’t think very highly of yourself.

Many new clients tell me, “I’ll feel much more confident and happier when I lose this weight.”

And that may or may not be true, but the inverse of that is even more true. You cannot lose weight if you don’t love yourself. You’ll self-sabotage over and over again.

I know it’s tough to stop drinking the haterade, but you can absolutely do it.

I’m a HUGE fan of therapy if you haven’t already gone. I see my therapist at least every other week and (if I may be so bold) think most people should do the same!

If therapy isn’t your jam, I’d suggest tracking your wins.

Sometimes, just taking a second to celebrate your little victories can go a long way toward building self-esteem. I use this sheet, but you can also do it in your head (as long as you promise to do it!).

Try tracking your next 100 wins and see how much better you feel.

You Don’t Realize You’re Doing It!

If you’ve ever thought, “It’s just one little candy,” this one’s for you.

One little treat now and again isn’t going to derail your diet. It may even HELP you lose weight if it helps you stay on track the rest of the time.

The problem is that these little treats can sneak up on you if you’re enjoying them too often.

According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: ” If you eat an unhealthy meal today, the scale doesn’t move much….a single decision is easy to dismiss…It’s the accumulation of many missteps–a 1 percent decline here and there–that eventually leads to a problem.”

In other words, if you want to stop sabotaging your weight loss, you need to become more aware of how often you’re having little missteps.

Sometimes, keeping a food log can help.

Many prospective clients have come to me with comments like, “I don’t understand why I can’t lose weight. I eat so clean!”

So, I ask them to write down everything they eat and drink for a few days, which is usually pretty eye-opening.

It’s not that they’re lying to me on purpose–it’s that they had no idea how often they were indulging their cravings for high-calorie, low-nutrient foods (oops!).

Knowing you’re snacking too much can sometimes help nip your self-sabotage in the bud. But often, to quote GI Joe, “knowing is half the battle.”

Your cravings don’t magically disappear once you know you’re eating too much. So, you need to create some space between stimulus and response.

The next time you crave something that doesn’t serve your weight loss goals, try to wait it out. Set a timer for 20 minutes and keep yourself busy.

Chances are, you’ll forget all about that craving. And even if you don’t, forgetting ten percent of your cravings is better than forgetting zero percent.

The more mindless missteps you can avoid, the better your weight loss results will be.

Don’t Self-Sabotage Your Weight Loss Diet

A little self-awareness can go a long way in preventing self-sabotage during your weight loss diet.

But if you still find yourself sneaking snacks late at night, ordering that third round of cocktails, or cruising the office candy dish a little too often…I’d love to help.

I’ve helped my clients lose thousands of pounds with simple mindset shifts and daily habits…and without feeling deprived!

Click here to schedule a free exploratory call to discuss whether coaching might be a good fit for you!

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