HomeAffirmationsWhy do we self-sabotage our weight loss progress?!

Why do we self-sabotage our weight loss progress?!

Warning – This is a binge trigger! – If you find this article distressing please do not read it and instead seek professional help of a trained counsellor or a medical practitioner.


This is a subject that I’ve long been obsessed with finding the answer to.  On the face of it, self-sabotaging makes no sense whatsoever because it takes us further away from our goals leaving us feeling frustrated and unhappy because we have snatched success away from our own hands ourselves!

First let’s be clear about what self-sabotage actually is:

Self-sabotage is when we do something that we know will take us in the opposite direction of our goals.  It may even ruin any progress we have made so far taking us back to where we started or worse, further behind than before.

Here are some examples of self-sabotaging behaviours:

  • We procrastinate
  • Finding an excuse not to exercise
  • Justifying eating that second and third slice of cake (I’ve worked hard, I deserve it, it’s my birthday etc) and put off eating healthier for another day
  • We choose to watch a TV show instead of cleaning the house


  • We give up
  • We stop working on a project when it gets tougher and more demanding.
  • We stay in a job we don’t like and stop applying for a new one after we have been rejected a few times.
  • We stop looking for love proclaiming we love the single life.
  • An unforeseen expense that wipes out our savings stops us saving altogether

There are two ways in which we can self-sabotage:

  1. Consciously – This is when we are fully aware of our goals or wishes for the future but despite knowing this, we proceed with a behaviour or behaviours that will stop us from attaining them. A prime example of this is where our goal is to lose weight and instead of choosing to exercise, we decide instead to spend our time on social media.


  1. Unconsciously – This is where our mindset is in control and we are unaware that the behaviours we are choosing regularly are harmful to us. A great example of this type of self-sabotage is where someone who would like to lose weight seems to experience an urge to overeat any time they are complimented on their progress.  They do not realise that the compliment was a trigger and decide to binge without linking the two events.

As you can see, if you are on a weight loss journey both conscious and unconscious self-sabotage can be very damaging to your ability to reach your goal.

To try and understand this complex behaviour, let’s breakdown the events of the above unconscious responses:


If someone notices that we have lost some weight and points it out, we feel compelled to prove them wrong by going on an eating ‘bender’ which reverses our efforts or even makes us gain more weight than when we started.

If we autopsy the event, we will feel totally confused about why this triggered us to go in the opposite direction of our goal of losing weight!  The facts are:

  • We want to lose weight
  • Things are going well and we are eating better
  • Our self-belief is up and down. Some days are easy and we breeze through them, others are more challenging and require us to dig deep inside of ourselves to find the motivation to persevere.
  • We are beginning to reap the rewards as we start to see progress and weight loss

You can be forgiven for thinking that there is nothing unusual here and this makes you even more confused as to why you basically self-sabotaged your chances of weight loss success.

The above example can be due to both a conscious AND unconscious self-sabotage:


  • We know that overeating will destroy our progress
  • It makes us feel accountable and this feeling is too uncomfortable to bear
  • When people notice that we have lost weight, it can be embarrassing as it we feel it clearly tells others that we are on a weight loss journey


  • We have an overwhelming urge to overeat
  • We believe we do not deserve a compliment so display a behaviour that validates that we are not worthy
  • We do not have a strong enough belief in ourselves that we are capable of reaching our weight loss goal

These responses can be a result of:

Learned behaviours

  • This is how your parents reacted when you were a child
  • It was what you were taught to do by friends and family
  • This is how close relatives and friends reacted when you were a child

Coping strategies

  • You experienced a traumatic event that stole your self confidence
  • You were rejected numerous times in relationships that left you feeling unworthy
  • You lost someone close to you that left you feeling heartbroken, abandoned, angry, frustrated


Breaking the cycle

If you are trying to lose weight, it is vital that you commit to doing the work that is needed to break this vicious cycle.


Here are some steps that you can take to begin this extremely rewarding journey:

Step 1 – Awareness

Take stock of your life to find out if and how you are self-sabotaging your chances of weight loss success.  Use the grid below to help you (A few examples have been added to get you started):


What you want to do? What stops you? Why do you think it stops you? What can you do instead? What benefit would you enjoy?
Go for a walk The weather is cold It’s easier not to go Put on some inspirational music, warm clothes and go for that work My mental health would improve and I would have exercised
Eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day They taste horrible My mum hated fruit and vegetables Experiment by trying lots of different types of fruits and vegetables I would be improving my health and my body would thank me for it
Wear clothes that look great on me I’m too big to wear them right now My ex always said that I look fat in dresses Practice and nurture self-love so that I know that someone’s opinion of me is not a fact – It’s just their opinion! I would feel empowered as I expanded my comfort zone.  I would begin to feel more confident and believe in myself more.













Step 2 – Replacing self-sabotaging behaviours

Now that you are clearer about what you do and why you do it, arm yourself with behaviours that you plan to do the next time your automatic self-sabotaging response is triggered, here are some examples:


Self-sabotage response What I plan to do instead

I have the urge to eat everything in sight


Recognise why I feel like this


·         Take 3 deep breaths

·         Eat some healthy snacks

·         Prepare a meal, eat it slowly and let            myself enjoy it

·         Not feel guilty

·         Use affirmations



I don’t want to go for my walk today



Recognise why I feel like this


·         Take 3 deep breaths

·         Put on my walking clothes and                    shoes

·         Commit to walking for at least 5                  minutes

·         Not feel guilty

·         Use affirmations
























The more brutally honest you are with yourself, the more this exercise will help you.  Even just reaching the awareness level (Step 1) will help reduce the power that your self-sabotaging habits and behaviours have over you.   Remember awareness is a huge step towards defeating negative behaviour so the time you spend will be worth the effort you put in.  This is what I discovered about myself:


Reasons why I self-sabotaged my weight loss journey:


  • It was easier to remain where I was then make the effort to change
  • The need to be invisible
  • I was embarrassed of the fact I was overweight so didn’t want people to know I was trying
  • Not wishing to be held accountable
  • I felt vulnerable
  • Fearing being judged
  • I was copying learned behaviours
  • I was trying to cope (badly)

It was apparent to me that the reason I self-sabotaged ultimately took me back to the fact that I was mirroring learned behaviours and using food as a means of coping with issues in my life.  The links between the two were crystal clear and I felt a huge sense of relief as now that I knew my demons, I could work to defeat them!

I wish you luck on your own journey of self-discovery and healing.






The Anti-Diet - Sherry Taylor
The Anti-Diet - Sherry Taylorhttp://theantidiet115550288.wordpress.com
Sherry Taylor was born in Lahore, Pakistan. Her parents moved to England in 1974 and she now lives in Kent with her husband and two children. Her father, pen name Adam Zameenzad, was a published author of 7 novels and he instilled in her a love for writing. She is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction work. Passionate about the well-being of others and in particular about weight-loss/fitness, her non-fiction work concentrates on these subjects. Sherry battled with weight-loss issues for years before stumbling upon a solution that worked for her. In a bid to help others in this situation, she wrote The Anti-Diet Lifestyle in which she shares her secrets for weight-loss success without the need for conventional dieting. Sherry also runs a Facebook page aimed at individuals looking to lose weight: https://www.facebook.com/TheAntiDietLifestyle/

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Most Popular

Recent Comments

Ruth Davis on The Journey Begins