Day 14. Sabotage
Sabotage and Your Health and Wellness Goals
Working towards your goals is challenging enough without anyone working against you. But when the people around you don’t give you the support you need, or are loudly against you achieving your goals, it can feel nearly impossible.
The people around you aren’t the only ones who can sabotage your progress. Sometimes our greatest source of sabotage is ourselves. In this lesson you’ll learn why we experience sabotage, why it is so destructive, and what to do to keep it from getting in the way of what you want to achieve.
When Loved Ones Sabotage You
The people you surround yourself with have a role to play in your health and weight loss goals. A 2014 study followed a group of women and their experiences with weight loss over nine months. The women were asked to keep track of the messages they received from the people around them about their weight. The women who reported more positive messages were less likely to gain weight over those nine months, and in some cases lost weight. The women who received fewer positive messages were more likely to gain weight.1
Loved ones may sabotage your efforts for a number of reasons. Maybe they’re jealous of the changes you’re making. Maybe they’re worried if you make changes in your lifestyle, they’ll have to make changes too. Maybe they want to tell you what’s good for you and your life, and react poorly when you take control for yourself. Whatever the motivation, their sabotage can slow you down, or make you stall out altogether.
1. Logel L, C., Stinson, D. A., Gunn, G. R., Wood, J. V., Holmes, J. G. & Cameron, J. J. (2014). A little accep- tance is good for your health: Interpersonal messages and weight change over time. Personal Relationships, 21 (4), 583–598. doi:10.1111/pere.12050
Spotting a Saboteur
• The Food Peddler: The person who is always trying to get you to eat. They may say things like “Try this: one bite isn’t going to hurt your diet.” Or “C’mon, try a brownie, they’re to die for.”
• The Controller: The person who feels they know more about what’s best for your life than you do. With this person, it’s all about power and manipulation. This person may be reacting out of fear of loss or change.
• The Envious One: Sometimes these people are hard to spot because they seem happy for you and your weight loss. In reality, they are unhappy and jealous that you’ve finally taken control of your life. Because they have not been able to do the same, they make subtle swipes and detract from your achievements.
When Your Biggest Enemy is Yourself
Sometimes we are our own saboteurs. Sabotaging yourself means that you knowingly engage in behaviors that keep you from your goals. If you engage in these behaviors long enough, they will derail your weight loss efforts.
Have you ever sabotaged yourself by:
- Engaging in all or nothing thinking—depriving yourself of enjoyable foods until you can’t stand it, then giving in and overeating.
- Buying your favorite snack or drink even though it often leads you to overeat
- Skipping breakfast even though you know it will leave you hungrier (and more likely to overeat) later.
- Not tracking all the foods you eat—ignoring bites or handfuls of foods, even though they do have an impact on your weight.
- Justifying eating more than you need after a workout.
- Talking down to yourself. By reinforcing negative statements that aren’t true, you encourage a shame cycle that can result in overeating.
Make it Happen
Sabotage from others and from ourselves has a very real impact on our efforts to practice healthier habits. Making a point to identify and avoid it lessens its impact and keeps us moving forward.
Challenge Yourself: For the rest of your GetFit21 challenge, make a point to recognize sabotage from all its sources. If you identify a source of sabotage, take steps to address it.
Taking a close look at yourself and the people around you to identify sabotage isn’t always a comfortable experience. However, you will be amazed at how much easier it is to work towards your goals when sources of sabotage are removed.
Your Next Steps
You can’t avoid the people you love just because you are changing your life and they don’t understand. Instead, try these strategies to win saboteurs over to your side:
1. Stay close to your supportive family: The people who love and support you unconditionally will continue to be a source of strength and encouragement.
2. If your friends and family suggest you’re losing too much weight, reassure them that you’re eating healthy and losing weight slowly. If necessary, share the positive difference that your new lifestyle is making to your health.
3. If your spouse is worried about you changing your lifestyle, they may need some reassurance! They may have fears about you changing as a person. Reassure them that by improving yourself, you will be happier and more confident.
If you’re struggling with self sabotage:
1. Monitor any self-sabotage: Keep track of what you think or say to yourself when you engage in self-sabotaging behavior. Write down your thoughts, even if they seem silly or unrealistic.
2. Challenge the thoughts behind the sabotage: Ask yourself questions about why you’re behaving in a way that keeps you from living the life you want. What deeper thoughts are guiding your self sabotage? Are these thoughts based on facts? Are you becoming wrapped up by past failures and preventing yourself from moving forward?
3. Support yourself: Develop thoughts and behaviors that push you towards your goals. When you find yourself engaging in self-sabotaging thoughts, support yourself by thinking in a way that is positive and encouraging. Look for the places you’ve succeeded, remember the goals you’ve achieved already, and continue to build self-confidence.
Think Long Term
• Be patient: It may take time to turn a saboteur into a supporter. If someone you love is still resistant to your lifestyle change after your GetFit21 challenge is over, keep working on your goals. Don’t let their negativity pull you back into old habits. Be an example of what can happen if you commit to making a change.
• Create a new self image: Your image of yourself is continually molded and reinforced by your successes, failures, triumphs, humiliations, and everything you experience, see, hear, read, and think. If you see yourself as someone who tends to fail at lifestyle changes, you may behave in ways that reinforce that view of yourself. Rethink who you are and who you want to be. Create an image of who you want to be, then act the part. It may feel awkward at first, but if you continue to play the role it will become your new reality.