Are You Self-Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Efforts?
Warning: Adult language
Please do not read any further if you are offended by adult language. There are F-Bombs ahead.
Okay we all know how it works. You go on a diet, you lose a couple pounds, then you hit a wall, and then you quit. Or maybe you lost 30 pounds and you were happy at that, but then six months later you’ve gained 15 of it back. Or maybe as many times as you’ve tried to even start, you can really never get going. I could go on forever with the or maybes and come up with a ton of different scenarios but they all end the same… weight loss journeys that never succeed. Why? I mean with all the efforts that we've all put in for years and years, why aren’t there more success stories?
Think about it. How many people in your life do you know who've tried to lose weight? I bet a lot. But just for shits and giggles, let’s say you only know a few. If everybody that walks the planet knows just one or two people who've tried and failed at losing weight, well, uh that’s a lot of friggin people!
So why do almost all of us fail?
Okay I hear you. Eating right and exercising is hard. Staying away from brownies is hard. Exercising instead of making love to a sleeve of Oreos while watching Netflix is hard. But come on! It’s not so hard that 90% of people who start a weight loss journey can’t finish it. Seriously, it’s not that fucking hard. More than just 10% of the people who try to lose weight should realistically be able to achieve it. But they don’t.
Well there are thousands of reasons and combinations of reasons as to why. Some people have physical reasons. Maybe health issues prevent them from being able to exercise. Then you have the plethora of emotional reasons. Perhaps some find it safe to hide behind the weight. Others may not want to attract social attention. Maybe it’s just as clear cut as someone doesn’t want to give up their party lifestyle. Everybody has their own reasons.
It's because of these reasons that so many of us resort to self-sabotage. It’s something we do subconsciously. Without even knowing it, we fuck up on purpose.
Before you chalk me up to being batshit crazy, hear me out.
Why do we all want to lose weight? Well some of us from the beginning just truly want to be healthier (this was not me), but most of us really just want to look great and feel great (this was me). I mean let’s be honest, we all wanna be hot pieces of ass. Well at least I wanted to be. I thought if I lost all my weight, I’d find happiness. Well it turns out what I found hidden under the 120 pounds I lost wasn’t happiness, but that’s a whole different topic for another day. Today we’re talking about why we can’t lose weight. Okay, so back to my question: Why do we want to lose weight? The answer, for the most part, is to look good. Yes, I know this isn’t the right answer for everybody but for argument’s sake, we’re going with the most common reason out there… vanity. And by vanity I mean an amazing ass.
Alright, so we’re on board the diet train so we can lose weight and look great. It sucks changing everything about how we live but we’re doing it. We even lose a few pounds, maybe even as much as 25-30. We start feeling better. We’re proud of ourselves. Maybe we even find ourselves standing a little taller these days, strutting our stuff a little. Shit is good.
And then we stop.
We stop doing everything that was making us lose the weight. We start backsliding on the food. We drop a workout here and there until they’re non-existent. When this first starts happening, we get a grace period of a few weeks. We’ve been doing so well that our bodies have learned a new routine. But now we start making shit decisions and start backpedaling. It takes our bodies a few weeks to really start registering the change in the wrong direction. So for 2-3 weeks we live in a make-believe world. A world where we can all of a sudden eat what we want and slack off and nothing bad happens because of it.
Here’s my theory. This make-believe world? It’s not make-believe at all. Our brains know exactly what the hell they’re doing. This is self-sabotaging at it’s finest. Putting yourself in this pretend state so that you can ignore what’s happening. When we get close to our goals, or even get a glimpse that it’s possible to reach them, sometimes we shut that shit down right quick.
Why Do We Self-Sabotage?
There are two main reasons. Most of us fall into one of these categories. Some of us fall into both.
Reason #1: We are afraid of success.
Being successful makes huge changes happen. Our lives become very different once we find success (of any kind). Being successful comes with a price. It means that you have to take on an entirely different set of responsibilities. Most people don’t even realize that they’re afraid of succeeding. In our brains this fear of success manifests itself in many forms and hides its true self from us. We go on thinking our failures are because of our excuses and reasons when really we’re harboring a deep-rooted fear of success.
Being successful means you’ll have to work hard to keep what you’ve achieved or acquired. It’s more hard work after the hard work. Humans abhor change. We avoid that shit like the plague. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good change. It’s still a change and it scares us. With change comes the big bad fear of the unknown. Sometimes far back in one of those hidden compartments of our crazy ass heads is that lazy little voice saying, “You already know how to live the old way. It’s easy. You’re used to it. This new way is going to be too hard.”
This pertains to any aspect of life, not just losing weight. You’ll see people sabotage themselves constantly. Sabotage their jobs, marriages, friendships, personal endeavors, the list goes on.
Meaning also comes into play. You see, if you don’t have a substantial reason for doing something, you can easily talk yourself out of it. Being successful isn’t as appealing when you don’t have something important enough to justify all the work you have to do. Looking good was never important enough to me to get me past those first few months of busting my ass. I would start out with so much motivation and excitement. Yeah buddy, I was gonna be hot and sexy! I couldn’t wait!
But then something would happen. I’d realize it was going to take forever and a day to lose all this weight. My excitement and vigor would grind themselves to a screeching halt and then it’d really hit me. I’m still going to be fat in six months. Hell, I knew I was going to still be fat after 12 months. That killed my motivation real quick, especially when I’d have my brain feeding me all kinds of lies and excuses. It gave me endless reasons to abort my Mission: Sexy Bitch.
If all you have is the hopes of a smaller ass to get you through this shit, I’m telling you right now, you will fail. You need something meaningful. I mean, REALLY meaningful.
Think about this. What if some magical genie came to you and said if you lost all of your weight, your children would live long healthy lives. Or maybe he said if you lost all of your weight, your dad’s cancer would disappear. I can guarantee that you’d not only lose your weight, but you’d do it record time. You'd probably have a smile on your face the whole time too, for when you finished somebody you loved very much was going to be healthy. You would have that substantial reason that you needed to succeed. You’d have all the justification in the world. You would be working towards something extremely meaningful. You'd slay that goal like a boss and you'd be bouncing quarters off your ass in no time. You’d be the next Jillian Michaels.
Let’s go back to that reason we wanted to lose weight in the first place for a minute. We wanted to look good, right? Here’s the dealio with that. That’s not a good enough reason. Now believe me, I was right there with you. I thought it was a good enough reason too. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. And I still don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. I mean shit, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look fabulous. But you need more than that. Go ahead and keep that as a reason. But add more to it.
Because when you don’t have a meaty enough reason for doing something, when you don’t have something that feeds more than just your id and ego, you end up with just that one reason to achieve it and a million others to quit. That wicked brain of yours is going to keep throwing out life rafts to you while you’re swimming in the choppy diet sea... and one of these times your ass is gonna grab one of them. It’s human nature. We seek the path of least resistance and in turn we choose the path that we already know. We make a decision in the back of our brains that we’re going to resort to old ways because it’s easier than moving forward. I know. It’s totally messed up. But it's true.
So what can be more meaningful than wanting to lose weight? I’m going to throw something pretty crazy out there right now.
How about you fight for your own health and happiness the way you would fight for your family’s?
How about you become your own damn genie and grant yourself health by working for it?
I know, we’re talking bats in the belfry crazy here. But seriously? Why can’t we all value ourselves the same way we value our loved ones?
For over ten years, I tried constantly to lose weight and I failed miserably each time. I’d end up fatter than I was when I started. In the end it was easier to just stay fat than to work hard.
Well the joke was on me. What I thought was easier made my life a living hell. I thought staying fat was a lot less work. I was blind to how much harder it actually made my life. My husband had to tie my shoes. I ran (okay, wobbled) when I saw people that I knew in stores. I lied to my kids on why we couldn’t go to the playground or walk around the neighborhood because I didn’t want anyone to see how obese I had gotten. I turned down countless party invites that my husband and little girls wanted to go to because I was embarrassed of myself. I would get out of breath going up a flight of stairs. I’d pretend I was sleeping because I didn’t want to get naked in front of my husband. I’d cry myself to sleep most nights because I was so unhappy with myself and felt such shame. I lived under a fog of depression and trained myself to deliver fake laughs and smiles whenever I was in public.
I thought this was easier?
Easier than what? Easier than eating right and exercising? Easier than change? I was out of my goddamned mind if I thought this was easier. This was a miserable and spiritless way to live. I was merely a shell of my former self. The vibrant and lighthearted Gabby I once knew was gone. If this was what I was getting in exchange for dodging some hard work, no thanks. It took me many years to see it this way but I finally came to realize the harder of the two wasn’t dieting and exercising. The harder of the two was losing who I was and settling for a lesser version of me. I had become a version of me who chose to wallow in self-pity rather than believe in herself for five fucking minutes.
Before I became obese, I would've never believed in a million years that I would become so broken. I had always been such a confident and headstrong person, even as a child. But life happens. Sometimes you catch a couple bad breaks and if you're not careful it can change you for the worse. It's in these trying times that sometimes your mind will convince you of the craziest shit because you need an excuse. You need a reason to fail.
This brings me to the second reason as to why we self-sabotage our efforts.
Reason #2: We don’t think we’re worth it.
Do you remember when we talked about how you’d turn into the world’s next supermodel after the genie dude promised your family health if you shrunk your ass? Of course you do. And do you remember why it was so easy for you to lose all of that weight? Yes, because you were doing it for someone you love very much. Someone who was worth it.
Why aren’t you worth it?
I’m going to tell you why I thought I wasn’t. I couldn't get past the fact that I had let myself become so morbidly obese. Standing at only 5’4”, I looked damn near as wide as I was tall with nearly 300 pounds bearing down on my small frame. I saw my obesity as a weakness. I called myself mean and nasty names and thought horrible things about myself. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I felt ugly and disgusting.
I wouldn't even let anyone take a picture of me. One of my biggest regrets in this life is that I don't have more than a few pictures of me with my babies. My husband, Jay, would practically beg me to get in pictures. He used to say to me all the time, "Honey, the kids don't care about your weight. They love you and when they get older, they're going to want to see pictures of you with them when they were little. They're going to want pictures of their mommy. You're going to regret not having them." But it didn't matter at the time, I refused to let him take them. And my God was he right. My heart aches with so much regret it brings me to tears. In the span of years, I only have a couple pictures of me holding my baby girls.
In fact, if someone did take a picture of me, I would grab whatever was near me and try to cover myself. I actually thought that it was hiding how big I was. If you're familiar with my blog, I'm sure you've seen some of the same 'Before' photos in different articles. It's because there are very few in existence.
Here’s an example of how I treated myself. I would get to the point where I had absolutely no clothes that fit me. I was in a perpetual state of gaining weight, only halted periodically by my short-lived diet attempts. I would cry and get panicked anytime we had to go somewhere because I literally had nothing to wear. Nothing! Jay would tell me to go buy new clothes. He would be so sweet and say I deserved new clothes, clothes that I felt comfortable in. I adamantly refused. I refused to ‘reward’ myself with new clothes after doing this to myself. I felt worthless and stupid. I punished myself for getting so fat. I was going to make myself pay the price for my actions by purposely forcing myself to wear uncomfortable clothes that would dig into my stomach. I deserved it. Yes, these were the sick and twisted things I would tell myself. I deserved to feel humiliated. I deserved my clothes to cut into my skin. I deserved my bra underwires to slice my underarms open.
I would cry and cry over a problem that I caused and that I had total control over and then I would punish myself emotionally for not taking control of my problem. It was an endless fucking cycle of despair:
- I’d feel gross, then I’d cry, then I’d eat to self-medicate, and then I’d gain weight.
- I’d feel even more gross, then I’d cry harder, I'd eat to self-medicate, and gain even more weight.
This went on for 10 years.
I felt absolutely and utterly worthless and undeserving of anything good in any capacity.
I’d start a diet and lose some weight, maybe even 20-30 pounds, and then lo and behold I’d find a reason to fail. One time I got the flu and it threw me off track. Another time I was injured and couldn’t exercise. Or maybe work was extra stressful and I didn’t have time or energy to workout. Oh there was always a reason my diets wouldn’t last. I always found a way to blame it on something or someone, anything and anybody but me. The truth was I didn’t think I deserved to be happy. I spent 10 years not only holding myself back from living a full life, but my husband as well. There were so many beach vacations, swim parties, get-togethers, and countless other gatherings and events that I refused to go to because I was embarrassed. There was a very deep part of my brain (and I didn’t know it at the time) that felt I deserved to be punished for getting fat. Every failure, every negative thought, it all stemmed from this unconscious conviction that I didn’t deserve anything good.
Every time I had a little success and lost a little bit of weight. BAM! I’d find a way to ruin it. It wasn’t until I was well into my final weight loss journey that I started figuring this out. I began to realize that I self-sabotaged myself as a form of penance. Retribution for all the pain I had caused to myself, my husband, and my little girls.
For those of you who have never needed to lose a large amount of weight or suffered from a food addiction, I know this doesn’t make sense. I know it sounds off the rails. But the human mind is this incredible entity that can either be one’s savior and light or one’s cataclysmic downfall.
The mind is powerful and if you can’t take the reigns and use it for good, it will trick you into doing all sorts of evil unto yourself and everyone around you. You'll start doing things that are uncharacteristic. You know the kind of shit you see other people doing that makes you roll your eyes and deem them insane? Yup. That same shit.
I used to think I was the only one that went through this stuff. Even after I was a good portion through my journey, about a year in, I still felt alone in my weight struggles. It wasn’t until I started this blog, when I started hearing from women all over the world who all had stories very similar to mine, that I started to think maybe I wasn't alone after all. These women were self-sabotaging for all the same reasons that I did. It blew my mind. And it made me sad. It made me sad that so many women (and men!) feel so worthless because of their weight. That we all go to such great lengths to make sure we punish ourselves for it, until it strips us of everything we are.
Here’s what I now have to say about being fat, opposed to how I thought in the past...
WHO THE FUCK CARES?! So what if I got fat? It’s just fat. I used to think being fat was who I was. I used food as a drug. Every problem that came my way I made sure to bury it with every bite I took. It made me feel good at the time so that’s what I did to feel better. Was it the right thing to do? No. Was there 100 different healthier ways I could’ve dealt with my problems? Yes. But for God’s sake, I’m just a person. I make mistakes. Yes, okay, so I kept making the same mistake for a decade. I’m not trying to minimize the level of poor judgment. I mean, holy shit, Gab, seriously girl… you done fucked up. But guess what? It wasn’t the end of the world. Now don’t get me wrong, at the time I thought it was. But hindsight always bitch slaps you into seeing the truth. I made my problems exponentially bigger because of the mental war I put myself through.
I made myself feel like dog shit because I got fat. Good God, I would never in a trillion years treat anyone badly because they were overweight. Never! In fact I don't (not now or ever) see people for their weight. I have always, ever since I was a small child, seen people for their personality, energy, and spirit. Why couldn’t I see those things in myself?
Listen, losing weight is not complicated. Is it time consuming? Is it hard? Does it challenge you? Yes, yes, and yes. But it’s not complicated. The procedure is actually pretty easy. Eat healthy, sweat, and get your sleep. Pretty straight forward. It’s the implementation that is difficult. But still, let’s go back to that 10% success rate. This world is filled with amazing, intelligent, and hard working people. These same people have tried multiple times to lose weight and have failed. This simply cannot be due to the mere difficulty of losing weight. No matter how burdensome switching to a healthy lifestyle might be in the beginning, there’s no way in hell that 9 out of 10 people are failing because it’s too hard. No way. There’s more to the story.
Us humans, we are a multifarious lot. We constantly struggle within ourselves. We don’t give ourselves the credit nor do we give ourselves the allowances that we afford others. We are unkind to ourselves, constantly second guess ourselves, and have a horrible habit of comparing ourselves to others. We let our minds rule the show and often we let our minds defeat us.
Our minds do not define who we are, our souls do. Our soul should be the one running the show. Our bodies are not a reflection of who we are, but rather what we’ve been through. I was morbidly obese for a long time. People treated me like less of a person because I was fat. Even worse, I treated myself like I was less of a person because I was fat. It took me not being fat anymore to truly and deeply understand that being fat didn’t define who I was. Being fat may have told the world how I chose to deal with things, but it didn’t tell the world who I was. There's a really big difference between those two things.
I let my physical attributes rob my spirit of it’s short-lived time here on earth. I let being fat steal my joy. I wish I could go back and talk to that lost girl I saw in the mirror. I’d tell her to get her head out of her ass and stop acting like being fat was the end of the world. I’d tell her to either buck up and do something about it and take control of her weight or decide to stay fat and live her damn life.
Do not make the same mistake I did. Don't live under the assumption that you don’t deserve a wonderful life. You deserve to enjoy the moments you have been granted. Don’t waste them feeling bad about your weight! If you really want to lose the weight, you can. I promise you that you can. If you continue to eat healthy and move your body, you will lose weight. I don’t care what program you’re following (as long as it’s healthy, no fad diets!). Every single one of them works if you don’t quit!!
Every time you turn around there is someone else claiming they have the exact formula to lose weight. There is no formula. Eat healthy (and enough) and move your fucking ass. That’s all you need to do! You might go to spin class and run. I may use DVD workouts and take long walks in the evening. You may front load your diet with vegetarian choices and I may eat lean meats and whole grains. There are countless ways to move and eat healthy and they are ALL correct.
The hardest part of losing weight is in your head. Work through the pain and negativity that lives in that dome of yours. Tell yourself that you deserve good things and that you are ready to succeed. Remind yourself that the difficulty of being unhappy and living inside a body that doesn’t allow you to do the things that you dream of is a difficulty far worse than putting forth weight loss efforts. Remind yourself that yes, success brings with it a different set of responsibilities and life changes. But reassure yourself that you are ready to grow and become a better version of your present self.
You were not put on this earth to be miserable nor were you put here to be stagnate and stuck in one place. You were put here to do amazing things and to radiate your light. You were put here to leave the world a better place than how you found it.
How are we ever supposed to put the past behind us if we don’t move forward? We can't. So forgive yourself for your past mistakes and poor decisions. If you forgive yourself, then there will no longer be any need to self-sabotage your own efforts. You won’t be trying to punish yourself for anything. In fact, you'll find that you're working hard to redeem yourself. You’ll find that when you start working towards your goals with a pure heart, you stop being afraid to succeed and instead you’ll want it. You’ll want it more than anything.
It’s time to bitch slap your brain. Hell, bitch slap every part of yourself if you have to! You need to figure out exactly what it is that you want and then you have to get off your ass. Make some goals and get some purpose. Whether it’s to lose weight or go back to school or start your own business. Whatever you dream of? Go do that.
Even after all of the shit you’ve been through, you’re still alive and kicking. Okay maybe you’re not kicking, maybe more like twitching your leg a little, maybe wiggling a couple toes. But as long as you still have breath in your lungs, then there’s a chance for you to make your life what you want it to be. I know you’ve had a lot of lows up to this point, but you’ve made it this far. And if you've made it this far feeling shitty about yourself, imagine how far you can go if you actually start believing in yourself. Sheeeeeeeeeet, bitches, that’s pretty damn far.
*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.
NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR HAVE ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.