Sometimes we are our own worst enemy when it comes to dieting. Although no one likes to admit sabotaging their own weight loss efforts, many people do it unintentionally. The results can range from a lack of weight loss for a while to a total abandonment of your diet. If you are having trouble staying true to your weight loss plan, self-sabotage might well be the problem.
Taking Ownership of Self-Sabotaging Behaviors
The concept of self-sabotage in a person who is dieting is rather disconcerting. At least it was for me. I certainly didn’t want to admit I might be messing up my diet on purpose. It wasn’t until I had been dieting steadily for about 9 or 10 years that I realized, finally, I was my own worst enemy when it came to dieting.
And just to clarify, when I was exhibiting self-sabotaging behaviors, I wasn’t doing it with the express purpose of ruining my diet. Instead, it was unconscious behaviors and old habits that ended up ruining my diet. But at the end of the day, those behaviors I demonstrated did sabotage my diet. I was the one in charge of my food choices, and ultimately I was responsible.
It’s not always easy to identify the ways you might be sabotaging your weight loss. Here’s a list of behaviors and thinking patterns I commonly see in client coaching sessions and in myself.
- You blow up small mistakes into huge ones.
- You don’t believe you can do successfully lose weight.
- You call yourself negative names such as “fatty.”
- You constantly put yourself down.
- You fudge the truth about how much you eat throughout the day.
- You don’t give 100 percent when you exercise.
- You stop standing on the scale without another way to stay accountable.
- You buy foods you know you have a hard time refusing. (Think chocolate, ice cream, or chips.)
- You hide treats or secretly eat foods that aren’t on your diet when no one is looking.
Now before you get to feeling super guilty about possibly sabotaging your own weight loss efforts, let me assure you that these behaviors are very common—and easily remedied, if you’re willing to work on them.
Fixing the Problem
It doesn’t do any good to know you are doing it without knowing how to fix the problem of self-sabotage does it?
Even after I realized and admitted I was sabotaging my dieting efforts, I still did it every so often. It’s hard to change but it is possible—and not only possible but also necessary. Without fixing the problem of sabotaging your diet, you will be hard pressed to successfully lose more than a few pounds.
Here are some steps to take to fix the problem of self-sabotage.
1) Work on positive thinking.
I know it is depressing to feel as though you will never get to your healthy weight. But snarking on yourself, putting yourself down, and not believing you can do it makes the process 100 times harder.
Practice saying nice things about yourself while looking in the mirror. Write down positive affirmations on post-it notes and stick them where you can see them. Ask your spouse or significant other to gently remind you to be nice to yourself when you start down a negative path.
2) Bring secret behaviors out in the open.
Many self-sabotaging behaviors are secret ones. The buying of unhealthy food, eating in secret, and not being truthful with how much you eat are all done in secret.
Practice openness by making your food diary available to a trusted family member and truthfully recording what you eat. If you do not live alone, make an effort to eat in front of other people so you can break the cycle of eating more than you should when no one is looking.
3) Do your best every day.
A component of self-sabotage can be just half-heartedly trying to lose weight instead of fully committing. As you wake up each morning, commit to doing your best no matter what life throws at you.
Over time, with a lot of work, you will hopefully find the self-sabotaging behaviors slowing down and then stopping completely. You will slip up and make mistakes, but own them fully and move on.