How to stop self-sabotaging your weight loss
When I was struggling to lose weight, I was frequently self-sabotaging my diet. I would get frustrated and disappointed in myself, even though I felt powerless to stop. If this is familiar to you, I encourage you to get curious about what is happening in your brain and to learn how you can stop this negative behaviour by checking out this blog post.
What is self-sabotage?
It is the sabotaging, whether consciously or subconsciously, of oneself, or one’s own interests, plans, goals etc.
What are the ways in which we self-sabotage when we are trying to lose weight?
There are many ways in which we self-sabotage our own weight loss, most of them resulting in us eating something that does not support our weight loss goals, wehther we get some short term comfort and enjoyment from that eating or not. More specifically we:
- Make food choices that don’t support our long term diet goals such as snacking on sweet treats, eating more food that we need at meal times and ‘giving in’ to dessert or a piece of cake
- Don’t plan to ensure we have healthy foods in our house or available to us throughout the day
- Engage in negative and critical self-talk
- Eat when we are bored or in need of some comfort
- Go food shopping when we are hungry
- Quit on a diet because we gained a few pounds
Why do we self-sabotage our weight loss?
So why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we choose short term pay off over long term benefits, sometimes when we don’t even really know why we want the short term pay off?
It’s normal for us humans to interfere with our own progress because of the way that our brains are wired for pleasure and comfort. We may not be aware that we are even seeking pleasure or comfort, often we may be avoiding the discomfort of the alternative action.
Then the effects are compounded because the more we self-sabotage, or do something against our long-term goal the more uncomfortable we get. Then we end up in a spin cycle of negativity. We start to think that we’re not capable, that we’re not worthy, that we can’t figure out how to do lose weight, that we were never going to get to that goal anyway.
The reason we think we can’t stop this is because we don’t understand what our brain is doing and we think that we are not in control.
Another reason is that we get stuck in the belief that we shouldn’t ever feel uncomfortable or deprived, and that we should he happy all of the time. Believing we should feel happy and comfortable all the time leads us to believe that something has gone wrong, and so we need comfort, when in fact it just means that we are human and evolving and growing.
Strategies to stop self-sabotaging when we are on a diet
The first step to stopping self-sabotage is to understand that, although it doesn’t feel like it, we do have a choice. Self-sabotaging behaviour is driven by our primitive brain which is why it feels as though is ‘just happens’ to us, but once we realise that we can put strategies in place, using the more evolved part of our brain, our pre-frontal cortex then we start to stop the self-sabotaging behaviour patterns.
So to suss out what strategies work for us we need to pay really close attention to everything that leads up to us taking the action of self-sabotage. We identify the patterns and then we put actions in place to deal with them. For example, one of my clients really struggled with making healthy choices when she went out to a restaurant with her family. They would eat out most weekends and she would always eat things that didn’t support her weight loss efforts, even if she told herself beforehand that she would make a healthy choice.
So I encouraged her to research all her local restaurants and create a short list of locations and menu options that she would both look forward to, and that would also support her weight loss efforts. Now…rather than going to a restaurant that primarily offers pizza and pasta she goes to restaurants that do really tasty and healthy food options. She knows what she’s going to have in advance and feels great about it because she knows she will enjoy her food and the time with her family, without sabotaging her long term weight loss goals.
Something else that we need to do is really take control of our emotional management. We need to understand what feeling we are trying to avoid by eating and then we learn to process and not resist or give in to avoiding those feelings and emotions. Helping clients to understand their feelings and how to process them is a key part of helping them to stop their self-sabotaging behaviour.
When we working to stop self-sabotaging behaviours we should also remind ourselves that its not even like the avoiding of the discomfort works in the long-term. We feel the discomfort anyway and then we prolong it and then we feel it again versus just feeling it and going through it and getting it done. So here’s what you need to ask yourself; what do you believe about youself right now that is causing you to self-sabotage?
It’s usually a thought pattern that makes sense based on the human brain wanting to seek comfort. But it’s something that can be pretty easily unraveled if you stay aware enough, if you’re willing to feel discomfort and if you’re willing to release control and manage your emotional life.
What would you achieve if you didn’t self-sabotage?
Well, you would probably feel a little uncomfortable more often. Maybe a little bored, a little deprived but ultimately you would be gaining the achievement of your goal, so a little discomfort in the moment will allow you to avoid the long term negative emotions associated with how you feel about not reaching your goal and not sticking to your weight loss plans.
If you would like to explore this further and find out what is going on for your when you self-sabotage your weight loss efforts please book a free Weight Loss Strategy coaching session with me here: https://sparklediscovery.as.me/free-coaching