Have you ever experienced diet self-sabotage?
Let’s give this example a go…
It’s Monday morning and your pants are fitting a little bit too tightly. You decide that this week, you are going to be good, follow your eating plan, and not get off track.
And you do great. You make good decisions all week and by Friday night, the pants feel better, you feel better, and the weekend is off to a great start.
And then Saturday morning, your family gets donuts for breakfast. And you decide that one won’t hurt. Saturday evening, you meet friends for dinner and decide that one cocktail won’t hurt. And a second one won’t hurt either.
Sunday, you go shopping without eating first and find yourself grabbing something quick at the drive-thru on the way home. By Sunday night, all bets are off as you eat ice cream straight out of the carton.
Anybody know what I’m talking about here? I know I’m not the only one who has a tendency to sabotage my own diet from time to time. It happens.
Today, I am giving you some of my best tips on how to stop sabotaging your own diet.
I recently asked the women in my coaching program what one of their biggest struggles was and several of them answered the same thing on the same day. Here’s what they told me:
“I start off doing really well but as soon as I start to lose weight or see any kind of success, I self-sabotage.”
I could immediately identify with these dear women because I have done the same thing before.
It’s that whole “I’ve been so good all week, I deserve to treat myself this weekend. I deserve that pizza…those wings…that beer. I deserve a day off of such strict eating.”
Or maybe it’s s daily thing; you’ve been “good” all day so you decide that you deserve to have ice cream while watching television after the kids go to bed.
Good Food vs. Bad Food
This mentality of “treating ourselves” with food stems from an old mentality that food is either good or bad.
Veggies, protein, water…those are “good” foods, while ice cream, chocolate, Doritos, and beer are “bad” foods.
I want you to think about foods in a different light. I want you to start with the premise of how you want to feel. And once you’ve decided how you want to feel, then I want you to eat that way.
We sometimes decide that very restrictive eating is good but that’s not necessarily true. We need to focus on how we want to feel in our bodies and fuel ourselves with the foods that make us feel that way.
The issue with labeling foods good or bad is that our inborn nature is to go after what we’re told we can’t have. Beer and Doritos are bad? Guess what I’m suddenly craving? You guessed it. I shouldn’t eat chocolate and should eat more broccoli? Watch me grab a chocolate bar at the grocery store as I check out with my bags of broccoli.
Why We Feel Fear About Our Food Choices
One of the reasons we feel like we need to treat ourselves is because labeling foods as bad leads us to a scarcity mindset.
We commit to eating clean or changing our diet to feel better but all of a sudden, our brains tell us that we are in danger!
We are never going to be able to eat Doritos again!
We can never drink our favorite beer again!
And so, in order to protect ourselves from hardship, our brain takes over and works to get us to do the thing we said we were not going to do. Our brain tells us that these changes are forever, that there’s no going back, no chance to ever have that food again.
So, we are afraid of that. We are afraid of making such permanent choices. And so we rebel against it and we “treat” ourselves in order to calm the fear we feel.
A Marathon of Change
When we set goals for our diet, we tend to think of them as needing to happen as quickly as possible. Think about the stuff you see online…
- Lose 20 lbs in 6 weeks!
- Get your pre-baby body back in 3 months
- Eat these foods and lose all your belly fat!
Instead of looking at our eating habits as a long-term goal, we think of them as a sprint. Instead of slowly making changes to our diet, we think we have to change it all overnight.
And that’s enough to stress anybody out.
Instead of thinking that you only have 6 weeks to lose those 20 lbs, why not just give yourself time? Why does it have to be 6 weeks? Can’t it be 6 months?
In order to help you break free of this mindset, I want you to think of a funnel.
At the beginning of your decision to change your diet, you may have a lot of weight to lose. If you have 100 lbs to lose, think about the top of the funnel. It’s wide, it’s big, it can hold a lot of things.
So, when you begin, you can do a ton of things that will give you some pretty immediate results in your weight loss. Every small change gives you results. You aren’t having to work for it as hard as you will later when the funnel narrows…
So, yes, as we move down the funnel, it narrows. And as the funnel narrows, so do the actions that will still give you the results you want. You have to be more strategic in what you do in order to get those same results.
Think about your emotions during these stages. At the top of the funnel, everything you do brings a measure of success. You feel empowered, like you can do this thing.
But as the choices and the results narrow, you begin to feel scared. You feel like maybe you can’t do it. It’s too hard. It’s too much work.
The end goal is a tiny little space compared to where you began and you feel so restricted.
This is the hardest part of weight loss and the place where the most people quit. The precision required to get through that last part of the funnel just feels too damn hard.
The Self-Sabotage Cycle
After working with so many women who fight sabotaging their own diets, it has become clear to me that there is a cycle of self-sabotage these women go through.
And I believe that if we can just see the cycle, we have a good chance of getting off of that hamster wheel of destruction and finding our ultimate success.
The cycle looks something like this-
- We start telling ourselves things like, “Look at you, you’re pathetic. You suck. You still can’t get your shit together so here we are again. You were doing so good and now look at you, you’re right back where you started.”
- This type of negative self-talk leads to more poor food choices and a downward spiral that is hard to escape.
- We begin to succumb to the negative habits that are easier than maintaining the ground we’ve already won.
- You leave what you know and begin to make poor food choices all the time, falling further and further down the rabbit hole of self-sabotage and getting further and further away from your goals.
So, I’ve told you what self-sabotage is and why it happens. Now, how do we fix it?
Retrain Your Brain
If you know me or have been listening to this podcast for any time at all, you know where I’m going to start. It all starts with the brain.
Those ladies in my coaching group who told me that they self-sabotage all the time have actually taken the first step toward getting off that roller coaster simply by admitting the problem.
You have to start by being honest with yourself. It’s time to acknowledge that this is a cycle you are in and you are reaffirming your choices by the habits you are allowing to form.
In order to fix this part, you have to dig deep and figure out why you keep following this pattern every single weekend…every single day.
- Am I over-restricting myself all week?
- Am I giving myself permission to not practice self-care through my food choices?
- Am I using food or alcohol to numb the stress I feel from work or life circumstances?
Once you get to the root cause of why you keep running on this damaging cycle, you’re getting to the good stuff.
Sit With It
This is the yucky part that most of us don’t want to face. When you dig deep and you figure out why you do what you do, it’s time to sit with that knowledge.
As a culture, we avoid silence. We avoid sitting with our feelings. Why? Because it sucks!
We don’t want to feel bad so we stay busy and we make terrible choices and then we wonder why we are in this place again. You have to take the time to feel what you’re feeling.
Journaling or kind self-talk can be helpful here. Verbalize or write down what you’re noticing about your feelings. I’m a huge fan of journaling and I have created a set of journaling prompts that may help you to work through this time of self-discovery.
How Are You Restricting Food?
I know this goes without saying but if you’re balls-to-the-wall in restricting food Monday through Friday and destroying your progress on the weekend, you have to take a look at the food restriction and what part it plays in your self-sabotage.
My suggestion is that you not be restrictive in the morning.
Being super restrictive in the morning leads to greater afternoon hunger. And greater afternoon hunger, (and low blood sugar from those restrictions) leads to poor choices for the rest of the day.
So, feed yourself in the morning to set yourself up for success the rest of the day.
Create an Environment for Success
Again, I feel silly for saying this but if you have a pantry filled with bags of Doritos and the fridge is filled with beer, you shouldn’t expect yourself to make wise choices. You are human, after all.
If you want to stop sabotaging your diet, create an environment where you can be successful.
If you restrict all day and come home from work at 6 pm hangry as hell, don’t be surprised if you reach for whatever crap you have on hand.
And if you have no meal plan, you are truly in trouble.
You can check out my FREE 5 Day Meal Planning Challenge I just did here.
You absolutely have to prepare ahead of time and create an environment of success. Meal planning, removing the foods that tempt you to self-sabotage, and feeding yourself in the morning are all ways to set yourself up for massive success.
Are You Tired of Feeling Like Sh*t?
I mentioned this earlier but instead of labeling foods as good or bad, decide how you want to feel and eat the foods that make you feel that way.
It’s pretty simple, ladies…
If you want to feel like shit, eat shitty food. Eat those Doritos. Drive through Mickey D’s every day for lunch. Have your donuts every Saturday. Plow through a sleeve of Oreos while you binge Netflix at night.
I don’t need to tell you how bad these foods make you feel. They destroy your blood sugar levels, they make you feel like shit, and they make you crave even more of them.
Flip the Script
Eating that crap sends you right back into that negative spiral of self-sabotage. It’s time to flip the script for good.
- If you want to feel amazing, and strong, and confident…
- If you want to feel more confident…
- If you want to carry out your duties in all areas of your life…
Eat whole foods. Drink plenty of water. Approach your meals with balance.
When you make these decisions to eat well and to care for yourself, guess what happens?
You feel better! All the time!
It’s Time to Be Honest with Yourself
If you’re ready to overcome the cycle of self-sabotage, you’re going to have to get super freaking honest with yourself.
I know it’s hard and uncomfortable, I do. I work with ladies every single day who are struggling to get free of this cycle. And I think…no, I know…that having someone who can come alongside you and help you makes all the difference.
I know that sometimes, we need someone to call us on our BS. If you say you want to lose weight but you keep making poor choices that lead you absolutely nowhere, maybe you want comfort more than you want weight loss.
And maybe it’s time for you to admit that and ask for help.
You are the only person who can change your life. I can coach you. I can help you. I can call out your BS. But I can’t change you. You are the only one with the power to change yourself.
If you’re ready to get out of the cycle of self-sabotage, I’m here to help you.
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