Self-Sabotage: Six Steps to Successfully Overcome It!

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Self-Sabotage: Six Steps to Successfully Overcome It!

By: Lynn and Drew Manning

I wrote an article last week about why our friends (or family) sometimes sabotage our efforts to become healthier and lose weight. The blog post included tips to help avoid or overcome the sabotage. However, many of you asked about how to combat the worst saboteur of them all-yourself.

So the question becomes…why would you want to sabotage yourself? Everyone’s fears are different, and there are a lot of questions that come up in my mind regarding the “why” of self-sabotage. Are you simply afraid of change? Do you feel like you don’t deserve this? Are you worried about losing a spouse, friend, or family member because of the changes you are making? Do you simply not know what to do once you reach your goal, that maintenance for a lifetime seems impossible?

Regardless of your “why”, these six steps will help you to successfully overcome the cycle of self-sabotage:  


If you don’t allow yourself to honestly evaluate where your fears are coming from (and what they really are) then how are you going to overcome them?! This doesn’t need to be an assignment you share with others, but it is time to get “real” with yourself. Are you afraid people won’t like the new you? Are you afraid you can’t do it, so after 2 weeks of no weight loss you’re more embarrassed to try and fail and instead quit altogether? Are you afraid because your spouse or friends seem to be distancing themselves from you the closer you are to your goal? When you write down your fears to address them, they suddenly become much less powerful. “Write your worries in the sand and watch how long they stay there.”


This is one that continually comes up when my husband and I talk about fitness. From fighting cravings to overcoming plateaus this is a key element that we refer to. Why? Because it works! People often focus too much on their fears and not enough time and focus on their goals. When you have doubt that you’ll succeed it often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Focusing on the goals (the positives and “whys” you are doing this) gives you the extra encouragement needed when that “self-sabotaging devil” is on your shoulder telling you to quit.


This tip has a two-fold reason. The first was discussed in my blog post about others sabotaging you. Other saboteurs are a reason why many people self-sabotage; you subconsciously worry about ruining a relationship with a family member, friend, or spouse so you instead sabotage yourself before the relationship is ruined. By including our loved ones in becoming healthier we not only help them, but also help ourselves. The second reason is for accountability.  Whether it’s a friend, co-worker, neighbor, on-line forum, or family member everyone needs accountability! It’s helpful if it’s someone that knows you well because they’ll notice you self-sabotaging early on, and help you nip it in the butt!


I’ve heard a lot of clients and followers talk about how when they start to lose weight they still “see” themselves fat. Regardless of their progress they can’t actually see it. I've heard them attribute this to being overweight so long or having permanent self-esteem issues. I’ve found it’s often because they have “fat reminders” lying around everywhere telling them they can’t do it.  It’s that large pair of jeans you keep “just in case I gain it all back”.  It’s the photos of you around the house when you were at your heaviest that you walk by daily and think, “I still look like that”… “I’ll always be the fat gal/guy”.  You need to get rid of it. Put away your old photos, and donate your larger sized clothing that you don’t fit in. That is not you anymore. Those clothes will not fit you again.  YOU ARE WORTH THIS. YOU CAN CHANGE. The more you start to believe it, the more likely you will achieve it!


How is it we don’t expect anyone else to be perfect, yet we make one slip-up and we can’t let it go?! Our kids go around running a mock, our spouses forget half the to-do list, and our co-workers forget half of what we asked in yesterday's meeting…. yet all is forgiven and life goes on. You don’t seem to quit them, yet so often you are quick to quit on yourself. That at heart is what self-sabotage is about… giving up on yourself.  Our fit2fat2fit motto is “It’s a lifestyle…NOT a diet!” The sooner you can live that, the better. I think the perfectionist in us sets this unrealistic expectation (whether the expectation is how much weight we should’ve lost or how long we should’ve worked out that day, etc.) and then we fall into an “all or nothing trap”. When you have a bad day or even week it's not time to quit; it’s time to refocus on your goals and pick yourself back up. Go through the above steps and stop sabotaging your efforts by stewing about the past; change the now!


The lack of people focusing on health and fitness being a “lifestyle” is why I think I hear the majority of people say it’s harder to maintain their weight then it was to lose it. And having a lifetime fitness plan doesn’t necessarily mean you have difficult, long-term goals (like training to run a marathon). But it does mean you set goals throughout your lifetime. When we reach our goals and don’t set new ones we have nothing to look forward to and the sense of contentment can often lead us to do…well nothing.  We then revert back to old bad habits (one pound at a time) and before long we wonder how we lost our focus. I don’t need or want unrealistic goals set by anyone, just something achievable that you can focus on that day, week, or month.  “A man without a purpose is a man without a vision, a man without a vision is a man that wont survive. “-Iven Garland

I hope these steps help you to get out of your own way.  And remember, “What the mind believes, the body achieves!”

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