If you’re frustrated by self-sabotaging your weight loss goals, you’re not alone. I know countless people that are stuck in the gain-lose-gain-lose trap of yo-yo dieting.
For many, the diet starts on Monday. Then, after a full week of “eating well,” the binge happens sometime over the weekend. And all the weight lost throughout the week was back by Sunday evening.
This is what self-sabotage looks like.
And it’s not a willpower issue.
Self-Sabotage Is Not a Willpower Issue!
I personally believe that many compulsive eaters already have tons of willpower. We’re just focused on the wrong things.
Most of us expend all our willpower trying to resist certain foods — without realizing that dietary restriction is something you’re biologically wired against.
This is one of the top reasons why diets don’t work long-term.
So, where should we focus instead?
To stop self-sabotage, you need to stop looking at what you’re eating and start looking at why. This requires you to dig into your beliefs. Deeper than you’d think.
To help you figure out your why, I’ll share the best way I know to overcome self-sabotage — starting with a personal story.
My Clearest Moment of Weight Loss and Self-Sabotage
When I was 10, I got a scooter. I loved that thing and I rode it up and down the neighborhood for hours every day. This was a big change from being indoors all the time.
It’s no surprise, then, that within a few weeks, I lost 14 pounds. My size XL pants became too big, and I thought it was funny. I didn’t really think much of it because I wasn’t aware of the connection between exercise and weight loss. I was just having fun.
I only realized that I lost weight because my dad pulled me to the side one day and put a gallon of milk in my hands. He told me that gallon of milk was 7 pounds, and I just lost twice that much weight from my body because of all that scootering. Go Kari!
Shortly after that conversation, my older brother made a mean joke about me, and I threatened to hit him. (Not proud of it.) Usually, a simple threat was enough to get him to leave me alone. Only this time, I didn’t have size to back me up. He wasn’t scared and, suddenly, the tables were turned. I was defenseless.
Dad intervened and told me, “Kari, you can’t threaten him anymore. You don’t have the extra weight to protect you.” Boom. There entered the belief: Being thin is not safe. I must be overweight in order to protect myself from harm.
I gained back those 14 pounds and continued to be a chubster well into adulthood because of this subconscious belief (among others). And the worst part is that I had no idea that belief was hanging around my entire life, until I did the work.
The Hidden Beliefs that Drive Self-Sabotage
When your internal belief system and your external actions don’t match, self-sabotage happens.
When food is subconsciously protecting you from something, you won’t give it up. When being overweight is actually meeting your needs in some way (that you’re unaware of), you can’t help but binge.
For me, being overweight provided safety; and every time I tried to diet, my subconscious was screaming, “This isn’t safe!!!” And so, I would binge after every attempt to diet.
On the surface, I thought I was just weak. I thought I didn’t have the willpower necessary to succeed. But the truth is that I was simply protecting myself. (Again, this is why I believe that most compulsive eaters actually have tons of willpower already.)
This is why it’s so important to discover your subconscious beliefs.
Examples of Self-Sabotaging Beliefs
Here are some examples of what these beliefs could look like:
You might self-sabotage if you believe that being overweight is protecting you from…
- Rejection – because if someone rejects you, you can just blame it on your weight, not yourself
- Unwanted advances from the opposite sex – because you don’t know how to say no, so your body says it for you
- Outshining others – because you’re a people-pleaser, and if your body became a trigger for jealousy, you can’t please everyone
The list goes on an on. And the only way to uncover these beliefs is by taking a look into your subconscious belief system. And the best way I’ve found to do that is through self-inquiry.
The Best Way to Stop Self-Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals
“I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” -Joan Didion
If you’re caught up in the self-sabotaging cycle because you have unhelpful subconscious beliefs floating around, the best way to become aware of them is to write it down.
Self-inquiry is the best way, by far, to stop self-sabotaging because it uncovers the beliefs that you don’t even know you have.
Writing helps separate you from the seamless stream of thoughts in your mind. It’s hard to pinpoint a belief when you’re drowning in them.
When you’re forced to write down your thoughts one by one, the truth comes out. It often helps to have some sort of workbook with questions and writing prompts to get your juices flowing.
The Best Tool to Stop Self-Sabotaging Weight Loss
I actually made a self-inquiry style workbook called Why We Do the Things We Do. It’s catered specifically for uncovering the beliefs that drive self-sabotage.
Through pages and pages of self-inquiry, you uncover aaallllll the subconscious beliefs that are blocking your weight loss goals.
After I made the workbook, I completed it myself and still got something from it. Even though I knew what was coming, it still helped. This is the power of separating our thoughts onto paper.
If you’re really dedicated to figuring this thing out, you can “upgrade” from self-inquiry to straight-up inquiry — i.e. the wonderful world of therapy.
Nothing compares to the power of sitting down with a professional to really dig into the reasons why we do the things we do.
Awareness + Inquiry = How to Stop Self-Sabotaging Weight Loss
Discovering your subconscious beliefs is best way to stop self-sabotaging your weight loss goals. Self-inquiry will get you there. It generates awareness around why you self-sabotage, which is the most important piece of the puzzle.
This post is one of my most powerful pieces, and I used it as the intro to my free ebook called The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide to Stop Binge Eating. It has even more content than just this post, and you can download it below.