Overcoming Weight Loss Self-Sabotage: 4 Lies We Tell Ourselves

August 16, 2023

Weight Loss Self-Sabotage

I spent 20 years trying to lose weight, with no success. I got started in my teen years with the cabbage soup diet and sneaking down to my parent’s basement to do endless hours of squats. I believed with enough effort my thick thighs would magically transform into the long, lean legs I saw on supermodels. (Spoiler alert: they didn’t.)

In my 20’s I was introduced to a popular “points system.” Those familiar with it will know exactly what I’m talking about. That’s when I really started losing control around food. Suddenly my meals became a collection of numbers and when I went over my daily allotment, I was full of shame. Usually I was white-knuckling my way through the week only to lose control on the weekends, promising myself I would ‘start again on Monday.’

This cycle would repeat each week. For 20 years I thought about weight, food, and exercise all. the. time. Yet nobody would know that by looking at me. All I had to show for my 20 years of dieting were eating habits, and a body weight, that were spiraling out of control. I was a size 24 at my heaviest, which was heavier than I had been at nine months pregnant. 

And I was embarrassed. I was ‘that girl’ who was always on a diet but never losing weight.

I knew something had to change: but what?

The truth is, humans are great at lying to themselves, and I’m no exception. I did manage to lose, and keep off, that weight. I went from a size 24 to a size 10/12 (depending on the brand, right ladies?) and I’m no longer preoccupied with thinking about food or my weight. This has impacted every aspect of my life for the better. Most people won’t realize how much time and energy they’re spending on dieting until they aren’t doing it anymore. 

I didn’t lose weight because I finally found the willpower to master that points program. (Actually, it’s the opposite! I finally quit it for good!) I was able to lose weight when I stopped lying to myself. Since then I’ve coached thousands of women to overcome their own eating issues. I’ve realized we all have a lot in common. In fact, I believe there are four common lies that women tell themselves that lead to weight loss self-sabotage.

Lie #1: My Relationship With Food and My Body Will Improve Once I Lose Weight

Many women believe their body image and relationship with food will magically improve once they reach their desired weight. “First I’ll lose weight then I’ll work on all this other uncomfortable emotional stuff.” It doesn’t work. The truth is, your beliefs about your body and food will travel with you to a lower body weight, unless you’re actively working on them. You’ll find yourself in a smaller body with the same problems: poor body image, food fears, weight preoccupations, and terrified of regaining all the weight you’ve lost.

This shame and fear-based relationship with food and your body is what makes you most vulnerable to weight regain. I experienced this and I’ve seen it time and again in our clients: sustainable weight loss happens as a result of improving your relationship with food and your body, not the other way around.

Lie #2: I Need to Be “Enter Goal Weight Here” Pounds

Setting a specific number as your ultimate goal weight can be detrimental to your weight loss journey. Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Let me explain.

Growing up in a society with overwhelming pressure to be thin often leaves women with unrealistic weight loss expectations. Over the years many women have shared with me their goal weight is based on what they weighed on their wedding day, as a young college athlete, what they weighed in high school. They forget that they heavily restricted their food and over-exercised for months leading up to their wedding. They forget they don’t have time to train like a college athlete anymore. They forget that they’ve gone through puberty and had 3 children since high school, and what they weighed then just isn’t possible anymore.

The women who hyper-focus on a goal weight are more likely to rely on unsustainable behaviors. That means the weight loss won’t last. We have a saying in Balance365, “goal life over goal weight.” What if you let your desired behaviors lead the way and allow your weight to become the byproduct of that? This approach truly is key to figuring out what’s going to be sustainable for you.

I’ve lost 12 dress sizes but my body weight is still higher than what my 20-something self thought it ‘should’ be. Does that mean I failed? I would argue it means my 20-something weight loss goal was never realistic in the first place. Allowing my weight to become a byproduct of my life (rather than my life a byproduct of what I want to weigh) has changed everything for me. It could change everything for you, too.

Lie #3: I’m Doing Everything Right!

When I’m coaching women, it’s a giant red flag when someone says they are “doing everything right” and they have “no idea why they aren’t losing weight.” In my experience, those who are struggling to achieve a result (like weight loss) are in denial about what their actual behaviors are. 

I don’t think these individuals are lying. They’re doing everything right based on the behaviors they’re acknowledging.  But, they’re completely unaware, or ignoring the impact of, the unhealthy habits that are keeping them stuck.

The truth is, nobody is doing everything right. And you don’t need to. I’ve lost a significant amount of weight while being imperfect, and our successful members have too. That includes losing weight while eating cookies, dining out at restaurants, and enjoying glasses of wine. But I got honest about the frequency I was engaging in those less-healthy behaviors, instead of lying to myself about their impact.

To have a successful weight loss journey you’re going to need radical honesty about what you’re actually doing. That’s where you’ll find the changes you need to make.

Lie 4: Moderation! #Balance.

The concept of moderation varies depending on where you are. Some people are very restrictive dieters and moderation means allowing for more flexibility and saying yes to foods they typically avoid. 

On the other hand, some people have no boundaries with food and moderation may involve learning how to have some restraint around food. 

I’ve been the woman who claimed ‘moderation!’ while ordering Chinese takeout for four, that was just for me. I wasn’t being honest with myself about where my habits were and that moderation for me was going to look different than moderation for someone who was overly restrictive.

Do you need to give yourself more freedom? 

Or do you need to learn now to pass on some indulgences that have been getting out of control?

Only you can decide who you are and where you need to go to find balance in your life. That’s what we help women do inside of Balance365!

How to Stop the Weight Loss Self-Sabotage

Recognizing the lies we tell ourselves is the first step towards overcoming self-sabotage on our weight loss journeys. It’s important to be honest, self-aware, and objective about our behaviors and expectations. Remember that weight loss is not solely about reaching a number on a scale; it’s about creating a healthy relationship with food and our bodies. By debunking these common lies and embracing a more curious and truthful mindset, you can pave the way for sustainable and successful weight loss!