We have all done it. You start the day with a commitment to eat healthy all day, and by 5:00, you are munching on stale doughnuts on the drive home or sneaking snacks after everyone else is in bed. But somehow you convince yourself that these choices are okay.
That you “deserve” this treat or will “get back on track tomorrow.” These self-sabotaging behaviors are common and the number one reason that most people struggle to lose weight permanently.
Knowing you are sabotaging yourself is the first step to stopping this unhealthy behavior. Once you can recognize the habits and patterns of self-sabotage, then you can work toward reversing these, which will enable you to be more successful at changing your health and reducing your weight. Here are the most common ways you are sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
- “I earned this treat.” If your goal is to lose weight and be healthier, then everything you do should be focused on that effort. When you reward your positive changes and hard work at eating healthy foods and exercising more by indulging in unhealthy options, then you are sabotaging your progress. Eating well all day does nothing if you blow eat with a “treat” every night. You can’t be healthy five days a week and unhealthy two days a week and expect to see real change.
- Using exercise to “make up” for bad food choices. If you eat unhealthy food, then use exercise to “punish” yourself for this behavior, you are reinforcing several unhealthy ways of thinking about diet and exercise. Exercise is not something you should do to work off calories or burn off cheat meals. And just because you worked out does not mean you can eat more if you are trying to lose weight.
- Blowing “treats” way out of proportion. It used to be that people at sugary treats very rarely. Like once a month. Same with fast food. Same with eating out. Now, we have someone convinced ourselves that these are things you should have much more often. A treat is just that. Something special, meant to signify a real reward, not making it until bedtime without blowing your diet. They should be things you enjoy in very small quantities at very special times.
- Using fake food to make up for your lack of nutrition and calling it healthy. If you eat crappy food all day long, it does not matter how many supplements you take each day. You are not going to be healthy. The majority of the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health should come from the nutrient-dense food you eat, not from supplements. You can use supplements to fill in minor gaps in your nutritional needs, but focus first on the right food, and you will not need to rely on these so much.
- “I skipped breakfast, so I’ll eat more for lunch.” Unless you are a dedicated follower of intermittent fasting and understand how to break a fast effectively, more people who skip meals are much more likely to overeat later in the day, thus negating the “saved” calories from the missed meal. Eating small, well-balanced meals regularly is more likely to keep you on track and help you feel sated and quell food cravings than skipping meals.
- Not understanding your limits. For some people, you can take a bite or two of an indulgent treat, feel satisfied, and be able to put the fork down and be done. Others will have three bites of that treat, which will trigger a midnight raid on the “emergency” ice cream in the freezer. Knowing your triggers and honoring your limits is key to staying on track.
Whether it is one of these or one of hundreds of other ways that you rationalize your poor nutritional or exercise choices to yourself, it is crucial that you recognize these, own up to them, and find new, healthier ways to stop engaging in these types of actions, if you genuinely want to be successful at losing weight.