A Guide To Identifying The Patterns That Trip You Up
Do you have a lot of frustration with yourself for not following through with your weight loss plan and feel hopeless that your situation will never change.
So if you feel like you keep sabotaging yourself for one reason or another, there are specific things can you do right now to get un-stuck and on track. It might be helpful to get a pen out right now, and write down some notes as you go through this guide. After you have written down some answers to the questions here, maybe pick one thing this week to work on.
The first thing you want to do is identify why you keep doing this. If you don’t have a clear idea, then it’s hard to come up with the right solution.
In order to understand your “self-sabotage pattern”, I’m going to ask you a very important (and maybe a little unusual) question. If you take a few moments to sit with this and really chew on the question, you will find that it’s very powerful and it can actually help you in many areas of your life .
What has to be true in your life in order for you to sabotage your weight loss efforts?
Read that a second time if you have to. It’s actually a basic logic equation. In order for a behavior like self-sabotage to be true in your life (and if you’ve read this far, then I’m assuming it is), then what belief MUST you be carrying that allows that self-sabotaging behavior to exist. If you sabotage yourself, then something else MUST be true in your life that allows that to happen.
I assure you this is not as complex as it sounds, and I really encourage you to take a moment to digest it. If you understand what that thing is, you will understand your self-sabotage, and you can then start taking the steps to reverse it.
Now let’s take it further. Below are the common patterns (the things that MUST be true in people’s lives) that allow the self-sabotage to exist.
1. You Focus on the Wrong Things
It’s very common for people to focus on all the negatives that come up rather than on the positives. For instance, you may beat yourself up for the fact that you splurged last night with your friends and had drinks and dessert, but you ignore the fact that you had 5 awesome days building up to that.
You may focus on the fact that the scale didn’t budge at all this week, and not focus on the fact that you lost 5 pounds over the last month. You get caught up in focusing on what isn’t working well right now, rather than celebrating yourself for the overall earnest effort you’re making.
Maybe it’s your nature to take a pessimistic view on life. Maybe you’re just frustrated and impatient because you’re not getting the results you want overnight.
Regardless, the problem here is that when you keep focusing on the negatives your frustration builds and builds until you just give up and quit. You get to the point where you tell yourself “oh, what’s the difference!?” and you throw in the towel.
The solution? First, you must take a long-term view of the weight loss process. Patience and persistence are key. Look at this as a cross-country road trip. It’s not a mad dash to the next rest stop so you can turn around again. Some days on the road trip are going to be beautiful and bright; some days will be overcast. That’s life.
The Mindset That Eliminates Any Notion Of Failure:
Really embody this long-term approach and have patience! Assume the mindset that it doesn’t matter a bit if it takes 6 months to get to your goal or 6 years. In the end, what’s the difference? A longer, slower trajectory that actually gets you to your happy, ideal weight is a thousand times better than starting and stopping over and over again for years to come.
Second, even if it sounds cheesy, be proud of yourself for the “small wins”: a good day, a choice to skip dessert, a half-pound lost in a week. This is critical because it’s really important to allow yourself to get into a genuine, positive state of mind. Being proud of even a small accomplishment does this. It can shift your mood from pessimism to optimism.
Many people are so used to ongoing frustration and disappointment in themselves that they don’t get into this positive frame of mind enough.
Getting into a positive, optimistic mental state is like opening the windows and letting warm, sun-filled air into your house after several days of damp, cold weather. It warms you up, “cleanses” your mood and puts you on a better track. Make the choice to focus on the positives and your mood will follow.
2. You’re Not Disciplined Enough
A lot of people really want to lose weight, but then they give in to temptation over and over again. Maybe you’re good for a week or two, and then you think it’s okay to “splurge a little because I’ve been so good and I deserve it” and you stop for Ben and Jerry’s on the way home. Then a couple days later it’s a few chocolate chip cookies, then a day later it’s pizza, and so on.
Or like I mentioned above, maybe the scale doesn’t move quite as fast you’d like and your hope and enthusiasm begin to fizzle. Or perhaps you’re good for a month, but then you have a stressful week at work and you get completely derailed.
Regardless, the discipline necessary to overcome old, unproductive habits and build new ones may not be present yet. Before you know it you’ve lost the focus and excitement that got you really pumped up for the first couple weeks and you’re back where you started.
How To Get More Disciplined:
The solution? You need to understand that the way to build discipline is by being disciplined. I know that may sound too obvious and simplistic, but I want you to understand that there is no magical formula anybody is going to say or give to you that is going to suddenly give you the discipline (there is one caveat, and it’s one you certainly want to avoid: a crisis, like your doctor telling you you’re pre-diabetic and you must change or you’ll be very sick). There is no substitute for taking action.
Similar to my advice above, take a long-term approach. Building discipline is like building a muscle. When you first use it after a period of inactivity, it’s going to feel a bit sore. But that soreness is good. It means you’re getting into motion again. The more you use it- consistently- the stronger it gets.
It’s the same with your good habits. They may feel awkward or unnatural at first, but if you remain consistent it will become second nature. So start by focusing on simple, positive habits that you know you can execute consistently: healthy dinners, no snacking after dinner, taking a 5-minute walk every day, or giving up Ben and Jerry’s Heath Bar Crunch (or whatever your ‘pitfall food’ is- you know what it is) for just 1 week.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking about how you’re going to lose the full 30, 40 or 50 pounds, and just commit to doing the simple things and doing them consistently.
3. You Don’t Believe You Deserve It
It’s also possible that you continue to sabotage your own success, because at some deeper level you still don’t believe that you really deserve the body and happiness you desire. In a strange way, carrying the extra weight may be much more inside your comfort zone than being thin. As unhappy as you may be, you already know what to expect in life- things are familiar and predictable.
If this sounds familiar, then what I want you to understand first and foremost is that these are beliefs you either learned from others or created for yourself- nothing more. You don’t have to carry them any further with you ‘in your suitcase’ than you already have. Sure, changing these beliefs requires some deep reflection and earnest effort, but any negative belief you may have about yourself, your body or your worthiness as a person can be changed.
How To Change This:
The solution? As you bump into these old beliefs start reflecting on where they came from. Who encouraged you to think and feel this way about yourself? Your family? Friends? An old boyfriend? Or maybe you just created it all by yourself. Regardless, the first step is recognizing these old limiting beliefs and being willing to ‘exchange them’ for new beliefs that help you get where you want to be rather than blocking the way.
The truth is, you deserve all the health, happiness, positive relationships and fit, sexy body you desire. You need to own that truth. You need to fully believe this yourself and get out of your own way.
4. You May Be Scared To Be Thin
The last thing I want to discuss builds on #3, but I wanted to discuss it separately. It’s possible that you sabotage yourself because deep down, consciously or unconsciously you’re scared to be thin.
Similar to what I said above, losing the weight might put you out of your comfort zone and you may be scared of it.
The reasons or this could be many:
• Maybe you’re afraid your husband or wife will be jealous and angry because you’ve lost the weight and they have not.
• Maybe you’re afraid your friends won’t like you as much because you’ve changed your habits. Maybe they’re struggling with their weight and would be jealous of you; or perhaps they’re thin and they prefer having you be heavy so that guys are more drawn to them.
• Maybe you come from a family of heavy people, you’ve always been overweight, and you just can’t yet imagine life being different.
The Warrior Mindset:
The solution? Be a Warrior. What I mean is that you need to claim what you want in life. It’s okay to be afraid of change. It’s normal and it’s human. But that’s where the Warrior metaphor comes in. A Warrior fights for what he or she wants and deserves.
You have to decide what you are going to allow to define your life: your fears or your dreams. You deserve the health and the happiness you want- but you have to claim it. It’s okay not to take on other people’s issues. Let them work through their own stuff while you focus on yours.
Your job is to claim your power by being at your best, pursuing your happiness and being as healthy as you can be. This week maybe pick out one thing to work on here. Can you improve what you focus on? Can you give your disciple muscle a good workout?
Maybe you want to dig into the deeper stuff. Uncovering limiting beliefs is not something that one can often just snap their finger and do. Often you have no idea, and that is where forms of structured therapy really work well. It is so gratifying when someone says to me “I cannot believe I have been doing that” or “thinking that.” Often, a simple adjustment is needed, but you have to do the work of getting to that point, that realization. It is that point when you start to have these “aha” moments.
Some of this stuff is really embedded and simply takes work to pry loose. If you are not getting to your goals, you have to keep working at it. But the more you work at it, the better your odds are. In closing, we hope you found some useful insights here to break whatever self-sabotage patterns you may have.