So you’re undertaking another diet.  “This time will be different” you tell yourself.   You’ll lose those pounds this time with a different approach, a new diet, a new pill to make you a more efficient fat burner.  But a few days or a few weeks in you find yourself self-sabotaging.  Eventually you give up and find yourself even more frustrated than when you began.  Sound familiar?

Self-Sabotage means that you take passive or steps that directly keep you from obtaining the goals you set for yourself. 

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of self-sabotaging going on with my clients.  I work with people who want to lose weight either face to face, by video and in group settings.  Let me share some of the ways I’ve seen people self-sabotage and see if you recognize your behavior in any of these examples. 

Putting my needs on the backburner. 

Everyone else’s needs come first.  I see this often with mothers.  They take on the responsibility for making sure everyone in the family is OK.  They only do things for themselves when everyone else is taken care of.  This leaves no time for them to work on getting in shape or working on stress relief.  They tell themselves that one day…there will be time to focus on themselves but it’s not now. 

Using Self-Defeating Talk. 

Telling yourself “I can’t…” before you even try or hear what it entails.  This also includes going through the motions just so you can say you tried.  But the whole time you have a mindset that “this won’t work.” 

Committing to take action, but making excuses why you didn’t.   

When I work individually with clients, we end every session setting some goals and coming up with a few points that the client agrees to accomplish before our next session.  An example may be to log their food intake every day.  The client agrees to this.  In fact, they actually brought it up as a goal they wanted to set.  When they return in a week, they haven’t logged but 2 days.  Then they list 14 reasons why they have a valid excuse for not doing what they said they would. 

Sometimes this is valid.  But it shouldn’t happen every week.  For example, every week they fall short of their goals and every week they give you reasons why – this is someone who is struggling.  They know they should be logging food.  They even WANT to log their food.  However, something is keeping them from logging the food.  And it’s not that they don’t have time.

Giving up, checking out. 

When it gets a little tough or when they have a setback, they bail.  They give up.  They cancel their appointment.  They don’t return my email.  They stop logging on to complete their online course. 

Lying to yourself in the moment to make your behavior acceptable.

I made this the focus of my online course Willpower and Weight Loss because for years I met with people and saw this was a pattern.  Have you ever had those voices in your head?

Let’s say you are looking at a menu and trying to decide what to order for dinner.

“Eat that girl! Look how good it looks! And it’s the special so it’s a good price!!”

But another voice inside of you says

“I shouldn’t eat that.  It’s probably got 800 calories in a serving and it’s full of sodium.”  

What choice do you make?? 

You self-sabotage when you tell yourself a lie to make eating that food acceptable.  It could be things like

“I’ll eat it but only a few bites.”  When you know you will end up eating all of it. 

“I deserve this.  I mean I lost 4 pounds this week. “  Knowing that using food as a reward is not good for you.

“Everyone else is eating it.  I don’t want to draw attention to myself by saying no.”  Knowing that everyone else could care less if you eat/don’t eat it. 

Get the picture?  When we give in to these self-sabotaging thoughts it leaves us feeling bad about our willpower.  It reinforces that we can’t control ourselves.  We beat ourselves up and wonder why we can’t get it together.   

Now that you see examples of self-sabotage I hope you recognize whether or not you do this to yourself.  If you do, let’s look at WHY you would take steps to keep yourself from losing weight and getting in shape like you claim you want. 

Reason number 1 – You set the bar too high. 

When people are motivated to lose weight they sometimes pick a program that requires too many drastic changes.  It’s unrealistic.  Doing this just sets you up for failure.  If it’s too hard, you may self-sabotage.   This is why I advocate for small, sustainable changes.  You can’t expect to cut out all processed food when you have been living on frozen pizza and fast food for twenty years. You can’t expect to go to the gym everyday after work when you haven’t sniffed the inside of a gym since your 20’s. 

Reason number 2 – A deep down core belief that I will never be able to lose weight. 

Many people feel like they can’t lose weight or they can’t lose the weight and keep it off.  However, they feel like they should try.  So they do.  They embark on yet another weight loss program.  And they fail.  Which only goes to prove that their feeling that they will never be successful at losing the weight is valid and justified.  It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you think you can’t…well, then you can’t.  So you will self-sabotage. 

Reason number 3 – You get something out of being overweight.  Something you had rather not give up. 

When I ask people what are the advantages of being overweight I often get a reply like

“NOTHING.  I’m miserable at this weight.  There is nothing positive.” 


Here’s some potential advantages.  

“I get to eat whatever I want.  Always. I never have to say no.”  

“I don’t have to exercise if I don’t want to. “

“I don’t have to plan out meals.  I can eat on the fly.”

I had one woman say to me “I always get to sit in first class on airplanes because I can’t fit into the regular seats.”  She perceived this as an advantage.  

Humans don’t continue to engage in behaviors that we get nothing out of.

Here’s a list of a few things my clients have identified as positives they get out of being overweight.  Do you identify with any of these?

Food is my coping mechanism.  If that is gone I’m not ready to handle life without it.

Being overweight is my excuse to get out of everything.  People don’t ask me to help them move.  I’m not expected to do yard work.  I never do anything in the heat.  My weight allows me to be lazy and I like it.

Being large is my identify.  I’m the big teddy bear.  If I lose weight, I lose my identity. 

Food is the only thing that makes me happy.  If that’s gone I’ll be miserable. 

I eat to rebel against someone who tells me I need to lose weight, change my habits, and exercise.  If I lose weight, they will win. 

Being overweight keeps my self-confidence down and keeps men away.  Dating terrifies me and I’m scared if I get this hot new body I’ll have to face men. 

Reason number 4 – FEAR of the ideal body.

Why in the world would anyone FEAR having their ideal body??? That sounds like crazy talk, huh?

When I see someone consistently self-sabotaging I ask them to do this exercise.  You can do it too.

Close your eyes and get comfortable.  Envision yourself at your ideal weight. You finally have the body you are striving for.  What are you doing? Who are you with? What are you wearing? What’s your attitude? Now ask yourself what is going to be different if you reach your goals?  Would you have a different job? Move to a new town? Break up with that loser boyfriend?  Start dating?  Would you have different friends?  Be more outgoing?  Learn how to ski? 

Now ask yourself what about this life looks scary?

Here’s some of the answers I’ve gotten.  Do you see yourself in any of these?

My husband likes me at this weight.  I’m scared he will complain and maybe not be attracted to me anymore.  It will cause conflict in my marriage. 

I’m scared that I will not be able to keep the weight off.  I’m scared I’ll be embarrassed when people see me gain it all back. 

I’m scared that men will be attracted to me and I’ll have to deal with them.

I’m scared people will expect more of me and I’m scared I will not be able to meet those expectations.  

 I’m scared my friends will not want to be friends with me anymore if I’m the only fit one in the group.

I’m scared to give up certain foods that bring me utter joy. I don’t want to live a life without them.

If your fear is greater than your desire to lose weight guess what…you will self-sabotage!

I hope by now you see that the inability to adopt a healthy eating and exercise lifestyle is not easily explained.  It’s unlikely that you just lack discipline or willpower.  Do some soul searching today and figure out why you self-sabotage. 

My next video is going to address where we go from here.  It’s called

How to Stop Self-Sabotaging Your Weight Loss

And it will go live on December 30, 2020 at 8 am on my YouTube channel.  Click here!

If you are ready to start addressing your eating behavior consider taking my FREE 5 Day Challenge! You can start any day by clicking here

Stay Safe and Be Well,


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