Self-Sabotage: We Have Met The Enemy....And It Is Us

Have you ever gotten to a point in your weight loss journey when things are chugging along nicely, you’ve passed a few important goals and should be coming down the stretch for your ideal weight in the not too distant future? And then suddenly you revert back to the behavior that got you into this mess in the first place. Frustrated at your seeming inability to close the deal – yet again! – you throw in the towel and go back to living a life well beneath your capabilities. Why does this keep happening? Why aren’t you proceeding toward your goal anymore instead of backing away from it? Don’t you want to accomplish this more than practically any other thing in your life right now?

"...and please help me stop chasing my tail. Amen."
Photo: snuzzy

Anybody who’s ever fallen into self-sabotage mode will tell you, usually through tears and not for the first time, that getting fit is what they really, really want. And yet every time they get close to their goal, they fall apart. You have all the information and resources that you need but you just can’t seem to finish what you started. How can you really want (or need!) to do something so desperately and yet get in the way of your own progress just when things are going well?

Getting your head and your body on the same page is not as easy as it sounds. There are daunting statistics about how few people really succeed at losing weight so clearly, getting your whole body geared up for the same mission is vital and not something a lot of us have mastered.

If you’re like me and have Googled “self-sabotage” (that’s a lousy picture of me, too, by the way), you probably wound up with a real mish-mash of information. There are a lot of lead-ins to products people are trying to sell you: hypnosis, past life regressions, dealing with addictions, seminars that “will change your life”, and so on. Some of the articles skim the topic but for me, I needed to find something that dug deeper. I know I do this and I need to learn WHY if I’m ever going to navigate my way through this successfully. Telling me I fear failure or fear success is only scratching the surface. I have a hunch there are a few more layers to it than that.

I bought a great book entitled, Fattitudes, by Jeffrey Wilbert and Norean Wilbert, and if anyone else is struggling to overcome self-sabotaging behavior, then this might be the book that will shed some light as to why you do what you do. The emotional baggage many of us carry but haven’t truly faced and resolved seems to be at the heart of this self-sabotaging behavior. We’ve been given all kinds of reasons why we should lose weight but could there actually be a part of our subconscious that thinks the status quo is just fine, thank you very much? As crazy as it sounds, could there possibly be a payoff for staying fat?

Think about it: If we start succeeding, will those closest to us resent us for it and start to distance themselves from us? Could we live a fulfilling life without our closest friends and families – even though they don’t have our best interests at heart, as evidenced by their reaction to your success? Or are we afraid that if we succeed on such a grand scale, more will be required of us and maybe, just maybe, we feel we don’t really have what it takes to keep up that kind of pace? Or have we failed as this fitness thing so often that we’re afraid this latest effort will simply be another notch in the loser belt? We keep insisting that we want to change our lives but what other things we will be inviting into our lives when we do change? Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.

These reasons for your behavior are not going to be crystal clear and easily accessible – you’re going to have to dig for them. There are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself and answer honestly. And then you have to take those answers and look at them with fresh eyes to figure out why you have been blocking your own success. Everyone’s story and background are different but what seems to be a common denominator for emotional eaters is that for some reason you made others and their feelings and expectations of you trump your own and you have carried that into your adult life. You have adapted your station in life to where they think you belong. You may have grown up in chaotic, neglectful or abusive circumstances and adapted a certain way of coping in order to deal with your situation. Overeating may well have become one of those coping mechanisms instead of you developing healthier, more basic ways of dealing. This book offers some wonderfully illuminating examples of why people do what they do in terms of pursuing weight loss. Maybe you’ll read about someone with a very similar experience to yours: the emotional eating, the self-worth issues, the people-pleasing behaviors. And hopefully you’ll figure out how all those experiences got mixed up into undermining our best selves.

The second part of the book offers suggestions of how to right this wrongheadedness through a series of questionnaires and exercises. It tries to help dissect your issues and teach you how to accept the ideas of worthiness and deserving and self-care such that they will fit more comfortably in your vocabulary from now on. Yogi Berra was right (even if he was referring to baseball – it still applies here): This game is “ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”

Do any of you feel that you’re self-sabotaging your efforts to get fit? Why do you think that is and what are you doing to try to correct it?

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