Are you self-sabotaging your weight loss?

Self-sabotage is a common theme in weight loss, we may sabotage our efforts right at the start, or we may lose 2, 5…10kg or more before we undo all our hard work.

What is the psychology behind self-sabotage?

Self-sabotage is very tightly linked with the fear of success and the other things that come along when we succeed at various things. But why would anyone fear success?

  • Researchers have found that there are just some people who view their abilities as fixed.  For example, saying "I can't lose weight" is an affirmation that is fixed about your ability to lose weight.  A more flexible idea would be something like "I can lose weight, I just need the right tools for me"
  • Working towards success often means change, and those who view their abilities as fixed can often be fearful of change and once they start to succeed can become quite emotionally disoriented because of this.
  • So…it’s just easier not to succeed and leave the status quo or sabotage what we have perhaps already achieved
  • Success can also be intimidating and hard to handle and can involve more responsibility. In the case of weight loss, it can mean more attention is placed on us….and that can be pretty scary and make us feel vulnerable

Self-sabotage is a defense mechanism and this fear of success and change can also be mirrored in fear of failure and fear of loss and a whole range of other emotions that come with the question of “What will my life be like if I succeed at this?” Can you even imagine what the success would feel like? A lack of imagination or a false imagination of future success can also urge us to self-sabotage.

We also have a tendency to sabotage things we actually don’t really want – a passive-aggressive response to something that other people may normally say “No thanks, I just don’t want to do that right now”.

Some common self-sabotaging behaviours include:

  • Falling off the wagon and staying off. A lapse is perfectly normal, but when that lapse turns into 3 or more days you may be sabotaging ‘this weeks weigh in’ which in turn can lead us to the next sign.
  • Negative talk & behaviours. A bad weigh in is just the trigger a self saboteur needs to confirm how they ‘always fail’ at losing weight. But it’s not just a bad weigh in that can start this barrage of negative talk, things like “There’s no way I can EVER bring myself to drink that much water” is enough negative talk to make you not drink the water and decide that if that’s too hard, then the rest must be also.
  • Procrastination. This is basically avoidance of the thing that we should be doing to achieve our goal. So by avoiding the task, we are blocking the path to reaching our goal.

There are plenty more where that came from.