Self-Sabotage – What It Looks Like, Why Do We Do It, And How To Stop It.
By: Nora Gallagher, Health Coach and Nutrition Coach, Out Run Your Fork Personal Training and Nutrition, Westfield, NJ
Ok, so, you’ve started your diet or exercise program and you’re making some great progress. Maybe you’ve started running, working with a personal trainer or sought the help of a nutritionist. You’re feeling good, sleeping better and everyone has started to compliment you on the positive changes they see in you. But, then, something happens. Whether it’s a few days, weeks or just a few months after starting your journey.
Self- Sabotage: What It Looks Like
There are several different types of self sabotage that people can sometimes run into after making some initial progress. Becoming aware of these acts of sabotage can help prevent you from falling into your own trap.
Also, as we approach the holiday season, it is particularly important to address this issue since these tendencies have a way of really taking over this time of year. In this article we’ve identified four of the most common ways people subconsciously get in the way of their own path to success.
1. Negative Self Talk
The first form of self-sabotage is Negative Self Talk. Your inner voice and personal mindset carry more weight than you probably realize. When you bring up history and old thought patterns, it can be self fulfilling. For example, when you say “Ugh, here I go again…” or “I failed in the past at this, I won’t be able to do it now” you are giving yourself permission to fail again.
If you recognize yourself doing this, try switching your mindset to stay focused on the present and leaving the past in the past. Remind yourself that progress is not always going to be linear and that having good days AND bad days (or bad moments) IS NORMAL.
When you choose to focus on the positive choices you have made you are shifting your mindset. Having the ability to self correct and continue to move forward is the ultimate goal but reminding yourself how you have failed in the past will not allow you to do this.
It is VERY common to use food as a way to reward ourselves. Even when we begin to lose weight, despite it being counter intuitive, it is very common to use food as a reward. But, beware! This form of self-sabotage can really trip you up.
Rewarding yourself with food can be tricky to navigate, as everyone deserves a treat from time to time, but watch yourself when you say / think the phrase “I deserve…” because sometimes this can lead to self-sabotage.
If you just accomplished a goal and want to celebrate, think ahead about what that treat will look like. The first question you ask yourself should be, can this reward be something other than food? If the answer is absolutely not, try to choose a food/drink you have control over.
Alternative Reward Systems
If you know you have a weakness for cookies and you truly cannot eat just one, then choose something else so you do not end up eating an entire box of cookies. Once you’ve identified your “trigger foods” are, or foods that you typically binge on, then you can plan ahead. When you have a plan in place, you can enjoy your treat without feeling guilty because you over indulged. See some examples of alternative reward systems here.
Another example of food being used as a reward is when we use it during our transition or break times. Sometimes it is easy to fall into a pattern where you are grabbing a snack in between certain activities throughout the day. For example, if you worked on a project for two hours and need a break, it’s common to reward yourself with a snack, when in reality all you really needed was some fresh air and a stretch. It’s important to remain mindful of your choices and not simply pop a snack in your mouth simply out of routine.
3. Perfectionist Sabotage
Perfectionist sabotage is allowing one small mistake to ruin your whole day. For example, if you were to eat a piece of Halloween candy and then say to yourself “well, today is ruined now, might as well eat whatever I want and get back on track tomorrow”.
The most important thing to keep in mind here is that one piece of Halloween candy is not self-sabotage, but the following 10 are. What you need to be able to tell yourself is to stop, regroup and instead of focusing on the candy you just ate, focus on the meal or snack right after the candy and you will be ahead of the game.
4. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
As the name suggests this form of self-sabotage implies two completely different eating habits during either the day and night or the week and weekend.
Day / Night Eating:
Often people fall into the trap of trying to be “good” during the day but at night have an uncontrollable hunger. If you can relate, the important question to ask yourself is – Am I really being good during the day? Just because you may not be grazing or snacking during the day does not always imply you have “good” eating habits. In fact, it can mean the opposite. Most of the time when people are finding it hard to control themselves at night it means their body has not gotten enough nutrients during the day and their body is looking for MORE.
A great solution for this problem is to make sure you eat a well rounded breakfast that includes some protein. Afterwards, either in your head or on paper, map out the rest of your day with WHAT you will be eating and WHEN. This will put you more in control of ensuring you are getting the nutrients you need and by planning WHEN you eat you will prevent your blood sugar from dropping and your cravings to take over your decision making. Read this article on How To Stop Late Night Snacking For Good
There is a huge emotional component to eating as it provides COMFORT. As the day goes on and you get more tired, decisions become harder. Not many people complain of being bingey at breakfast time. So having a plan in place eliminates the need for your brain to have to make a decision when its tired and craving comfort. You have already made that decision for yourself earlier in the day.
It’s natural to eat differently on weekends / holidays. There is no reason you need to eat the exact same way all week. If you have a treat or some indulgence planned for the weekend that is fantastic. Self-sabotage can occur when guilt arrives or when you go too far. A good way to stay ahead of yourself is to pre-think your weekend and choose what you will allow yourself to indulge in and what you will not.
An example is if you know you will be at a party where there will be wine and cake and tons of treats, choose which one you will indulge in and provide parameters. When you leave the party focus on the control you had in sticking to your choice. When things don’t feel impulsive and out of control there is less guilt. But always remind yourself that a little indulgence on the weekends is not only normal, but encouraged!
The Big Stop
it is in our nature to be attracted to things that make us immediately feel good. It’s a lot harder to constantly think long term.For example: “How is this choice going to affect me once the initial rush wears off?”
What you can do to put yourself more in control of your choices is to try and recognize your patterns? Allow yourself to have a treat and allow yourself to NOT be perfect. If you make the majority of your choices based on what can ultimately lead you in a better direction you will be less frustrated and more at ease. Perhaps a silver lining of what may be a very unprecedented holiday season for some, is that this year may allow you to disrupt habits that have been created in the past. As long as you remain in control of your choices you will always be ahead of the game and avoid self-sabotage.
Need More Help?
If you’re a little unsure about what to do or simply want some extra help, then our Personal Trainers and Nutritionists at Out Run Your Fork Personal Training ad Nutrition in Westfield NJ can do just that. Let our personal trainers customize the exact program that’s right for you. Learn More about our programs, pricing and availability.
Yours in Health,
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