The Self Sabotage Game We Play

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It’s finally spring and you’re charged up.  After another Covid winter, you decide that this is the year you’re going to lose the twenty pounds that have been slowly creeping up. Good for you for making the commitment.

So why does making healthy changes often feel like a failure before we can even get out of the gate?

Your thoughts may have you in disarray. How to get started, what to eat, how much, detox or cleanse, and let’s make sure this gets done as quickly as possible.

I imagine you know this game well.  If you are like so many women, you have experienced the self-sabotage hamster wheel for a very long time. With too many ideas and way too much confusion, it might feel easier to just give up.

Let’s look at a few ways we women might self-sabotage when it comes to healthy eating and losing weight, and what we can do to change it. Starting right now.

Stop Dabbling in Diets

Juice cleanses or detoxes can hurt.  For some women, drinking nothing but fruit and vegetable juices to give yourself a kickstart can make you feel worse off emotionally, if not physically.  If you eat food, like most of us do, not eating can be counterintuitive.  The result? Sneaking food, or going overboard after the diet is over, leaving you with the feeling that you lack any discipline to follow through. You might also lose a quick five pounds, only to gain it all back the next week.

The Quick Fix. Seek a middle ground. There is nothing wrong with eating lighter once spring hits.  For most of us in winter hibernation, eating heavier, more starchy foods was the norm.  Now you will naturally want to lighten up your food as the weather warms up.  Honor the natural rhythm of the seasons by eating more raw foods and get past the belief that we have to punish ourselves into submission to jump-start change.

Start With a Beginners Mind

Okay, stop right there.  You might “know” about eating a healthier diet, but do you really have the skills to take action? In my practice, I talk to women all the time about the basics of cooking and simply how to prepare a meal.  My philosophy is that weight loss (and keeping it off) will become increasingly difficult if you can’t master your own kitchen.

The Quick Fix. Embrace a beginner’s mind. Not knowing how to sauté kale, or how to simmer quinoa properly only means that you are starting from the beginning – with no judgment or pretense. We all make mistakes in the kitchen, myself included. Open yourself up to the experience and see it as a new adventure rather than a recipe for disaster.

Get Out of Food Overwhelm

It’s not your fault.  We are inundated with hundreds of books, programs, classes, websites, and magazines that promise miraculous weight loss.  High protein, vegan, keto, IF, paleo – it feels impossible to choose the right course of action. The result? Total confusion and a feeling of failure.

The quick fix. Keep this in mind: overwhelm is the enemy of getting things done.  When we are in drowning in information we tend to do anything else except what we really need to do – like watching the Food Network instead of cooking dinner tonight. There is no one way of eating that is right for everybody. Listen to your intuition, stick to the basics, and move forward.

It’s About You First

I have clients frequently tell me that they can try a few new recipes, but their kids and husband won’t like them, so why bother.  I then ask, “but will you like them”? Silent pause. For many women, putting themselves ahead of others is as foreign to them as learning that aliens have landed in their backyard.  We are conditioned to put everyone else’s needs before ours, resulting in the defeat of our own goals.

The Quick Fix.  Remember, this is not about them. It is about your health, your weight, and you, period.  Everyone will survive, and they might even be happier, with new foods to try.  Seeing you lose weight and have more energy just might encourage others to do the same.

 Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

It’s an all or nothing game with us, we are either all in and very successful, or we quit the minute we have a setback. Here’s a tale from winter that bears telling.  My energetic dog needs a daily walk, and so do I.  Win-win. But while the deep freeze wore on, I still had to walk the dog, daily.  Ten degrees, I was there.  Ice storms, you name it, I walked in it.  I became very friendly with black ice this season because I fell on it – twice.   The first time I fell I swore I would  not step foot outside until the weather warmed up.  But I had a mission to accomplish. Then came the day that I walked on black ice again, and fell. Again. I got up, brushed myself off and trudged on.  I fell and I got back up. I had to, it was that important to me.  My goal to walk my dog, and myself, everyday could not let a fall, no matter how painful, set me back.

Quick Fix. Falling and getting back up is part of life.  We start eating better, lose a few pounds and then “blow it” on a celebratory dinner with friends.  Big deal.  Get over it, move on, and get back up.  Your goal is to lose weight and feel more energetic and alive, right? Setting yourself back is no reason to not move forward.  Fall down, brush yourself off and start again.

Self sabotage is only an illusion, meant to confuse and challenge us, preventing us from connecting with our goals and values.  How do you feel about self sabotage?  Keep the conversation going in the comments below!

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