Why Do I Sabotage My Own Weight Loss?

If you have been trying to lose weight, yet keep finding yourself doing things that sabotage your efforts, you may be wondering why.

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If you have been trying to lose weight, yet keep finding yourself doing things that sabotage your efforts, you may be wondering why.

Do you find yourself committing to weight loss programs that are effective, but then you give up before you hit your goals? Do you have a tendency to make great strides for a period of time with your eating or exercise habits, only to find yourself back where you started? These are classic cases of self-sabotage and will keep you from reaching the goals you’ve so carefully set for yourself in your weight loss journey.

People sabotage their own weight loss when they struggle with low self-confidence and self-worth, when they are afraid to change their lifestyle or learned habits and when they don’t have a clear idea of why they are trying to lose weight.

For many of us, knowing what we need to do to lose weight is not that difficult. We’ve read articles on weight loss, listened to our health care providers, and consulted with friends and family who have lost weight and successfully kept it off. We know what to do to lose weight…we just don’t know why it isn’t working, and what role we are playing in sabotaging our success. Understanding some reasons for our own self-sabotage will help us get to the real reasons why weight loss isn’t working for us.

I am an avid exerciser and try to live a healthy lifestyle. I know what I need to do to lose weight, but it just seems those last few pounds will never come off. I find the idea that maybe I’m sabotaging my own successful weight loss to be fascinating and I’ve done some deeper digging into understanding why.

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Why Do I Sabotage My Own Weight Loss?

Weight loss is hard no matter who you are. And our reasons for losing weight vary. Sometimes we want to lose weight to fit into certain clothes or feel better about ourselves and our overall image.

Other times we are focused on losing weight for medical reasons, having been told that losing weight will reverse or at least slow down a problem our body is having that is in part due to extra pounds we are carrying around.

But, regardless of our reason for losing weight, oftentimes we haven’t allowed ourselves to focus on the reason it’s not working. Sure, we know all about counting calories and carbs and how many steps we need to take each day to lose a pound (or more) each week. We know how to read nutrition labels and what the latest “superfood” is. But when’s the last time we stopped to ask ourselves why – despite all our efforts – we just can’t seem to lose weight? Is it something deeper than we realize?

Sometimes yes. Keep reading to figure out what some of the real causes may be for your inability to lose the weight and keep it off, once and for all.

1. Struggles With Low Self-Confidence and Self-Worth

Many studies have been done to try and figure out what role our self-esteem plays in preventing us from achieving our goals, regardless of what they may be.

Humans are interesting creatures. We can spend endless hours researching something and filling our heads with facts on how to do something, but to actually put all those facts to use is something else. The self-help industry is booming, in large part because we yearn to improve ourselves and will spend time and money trying to learn the best way to do it. From being better at our finances to being better at relationships, to losing weight, we are optimists and are always striving to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

But, as many experts have shown, we often get in our own way and sabotage our efforts because of our lack of confidence in ourselves.

Self-confidence is defined as having trust in oneself and believing in one’s own abilities to do something.  When we lack confidence in who we are, we look outward for affirmation and don’t believe we have the ability to do something on our own.

People who struggle with low self-confidence and aren’t able to lose weight will say things like, “I’ve always looked like this,” or “I’m not ever going to be able to change.” They may make strides toward making a difference in their eating habits or exercise routines, but deep down, they don’t really believe they are ever going to be able to do it.

Low self-worth also robs us of our ability to lose weight. When you don’t value yourself as much as others, or you don’t think you deserve to have a better situation, you may make some effort, but won’t really commit, because you’re not convinced you have a right to want change. Again, people with low self-worth will say things like, “I don’t deserve to look like her,” or “Even if I lose weight, I still won’t be that cute, so what’s the point?”

People with low self-confidence and low self-esteem set themselves up for failure from the beginning of a weight loss journey. And the worse part? They may not even realize what they’re doing. Outloud they may be saying things like, “this time it’s going to be different” or “I am really committed this time,” but that’s not the narrative going on inside their head.

If you’ve been struggling to lose weight and just can’t seem to do it, regardless of the changes you’ve made to your lifestyle, spend some time reflecting on your inner voice. Do you talk to yourself in a way that is unfair, cruel, or dismissive? If so, you may be sabotaging your own weight loss and not even realize it.

2. Fear of Change

This one sounds kind of backward, right? You are trying hard to reach your weight loss goal…why would you then be afraid of change? Change is the whole point!

Maybe. But the truth is, many of us think we want to change, but are, deep down, afraid of it. And that fear keeps us stuck in old habits and unable to move forward. We sabotage our attempts to lose weight because we are afraid of what real change looks like.

There are plenty of books and articles written on this theory and you could spend hours digging deeper into what it means to be afraid of doing something that you keep telling yourself you want to do. But it comes down to this: when you are in the process of losing weight, you may be willing to make some small changes here and there, or maybe even make big ones for a while, knowing the payoff is going to be worth it.

But eventually, old habits come creeping back in. Maybe you’ve denied yourself that donut every morning for four weeks, but haven’t really given up on the idea of going back to it at some point. Or you’ve committed to a class at the gym four nights a week after work, but know that once you can fit back in your favorite jeans, you will be sitting on the couch again instead of walking on the treadmill.

We are willing to try something for a time, but the idea of doing it long-term is scary. And that fear of true change may bring us right back to where we started from.

3. Not Knowing Why

And finally, this may be my favorite reason for why we sabotage our weight loss because I think it actually ties the other two together. If you can figure out this one, the others might align.

A big part of losing weight and successfully keeping it off is to know your why. Why are you doing it? If it’s simply to look great at your high school reunion, chances are you’re not going to be able to stick with it long-term. If it’s because you’ve had a health scare and a medical provider has told you that losing weight will help with your overall weight, you may have huge success in shedding some pounds. Until you are no longer scared about your health, and then the scale will creep back up.

We must know why we are doing something in order for it to stick. We need to look past the reunion or next year’s doctor’s visit and ask ourselves what we really want out of our weight loss journey and what we are willing to sacrifice for it.

Once we find our why for losing weight, sticking with it will be much easier. But until you know what your why is, you will likely continue to sabotage your ability to keep the pounds off because you will lack the motivation to do so. And, when it comes to weight loss, motivation is as important as any other part of the equation, because it comes from inside of you, and – once you have it – no one can take that away.

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