The concept of self-sabotage in weight loss is a very real issue and one that I think is under discussed.
Do you ever wonder why we try so hard to lose weight and get healthy, only to sabotage our own efforts? It would seem counter- intuitive that after eating healthy for a period of time we would deliberately choose to pig out on a decadent dessert, eat ice cream from the container, or order and inhale calorie laden restaurant meal. Even as the food is going down you know you shouldn’t be eating it, but you can’t seem to stop. I did this more times that I can even remember, but here’s an example of one particularly bad decision I made that set me back in my weight loss efforts.
We were given a gift membership to Sam’s Club, where both the physical store and the size of the packages are huge. John and I loaded up the girls, and eagerly set off to try out our new card. We loaded the shopping cart with huge packages of paper towels, toilet paper and other dry goods. We also stocked up on bread, flour and treats. Treats like chocolate chips sold in a bag that weighed in at 3 pounds, 50 packages of chips, and candy that was meant to be bought by people selling it from a concession stand. When we got home, our pantry was full, and my mind was spinning with all the eating possibilities.
Oh, did I forget to mention at the beginning of that story that I was on a diet at the time? I forgot too, as I ripped open the several pound box of Hershey’s miniature candy, and began sorting through to find my favorite kind – Mr. Goodbar. I opened and ate one after another, just about as fast as humanly possible. Each time I thought to myself, “This will be the last one.” But they were so good, I just couldn’t stop. Needless to say, that day was the last day of that particular diet. I just couldn’t get myself back on track after that episode.
Has this ever happened to you? We don’t set out to sabotage ourselves, but we somehow end up making choices that sabotage our weight loss efforts. And if you are anything like I was, then once you are on a roll, it’s hard to stop.
I would get so mad at myself after I did these kinds of things. Why couldn’t I just say no? What was wrong with me that I had so little control? Once I finally got started on the right path to both health, and weight loss, I still struggled with self-sabotage. Even after I had lost 25 or 30 pounds, I would find myself heading to the kitchen to whip up a batch or two of sugar cookies. Although I had rid the kitchen of chocolate, I still had the ingredients on hand to make sugar cookies, and other non-chocolate treats. I’d start pulling out the butter and sugar, and then stop. I’d actually talk out loud to myself, “What am I doing?” and more importantly, “Why am I doing this?”
Often times I could trace the answers to an unsatisfied emotional need rather than a physical need. I was experiencing some type of stressful life situation, and reverting back to old habits was easy and comforting. More often than not, I could stop myself before eating a food I didn’t need, and really didn’t want. I stopped sabotaging myself by learning to recognize the pattern, and training myself to make a different choice.
I realized that when I started to sabotage my own efforts to get healthy, the only person I was hurting was myself. I also acknowledged that it wasn’t about the food, but about the behavior. Just like any other bad habit, I worked on breaking this habit by recognition, diversion, and diligence. I recognized when I was making a bad choice, diverted myself by finding another activity to do, and diligently practiced changing. I knew I wasn’t hurting my weight loss efforts on purpose, so I didn’t beat myself up about it. I just worked really hard at breaking the habit.
You may not ever do this to yourself, but if you do, be encouraged that you can stop. Self-sabotage in any form isn’t healthy, and when you are talking about food choices, the consequences go beyond just the number on the scale. Today, if you find yourself overindulging for “no good reason” try focusing on something else, and diverting your attention to a person or project that is life affirming.
What are your thoughts on self-sabotage? Diane