Self-Sabotage: The Art of Getting in Your Own Way

Contributed by Kimberly Turner
Health, Fitness & Yoga Professional

Often when we set certain weight loss or fitness goals we end up sabotaging ourselves. When we can recognize self-sabotage we can do a better job of overcoming it so that we don’t ruin our health and wellness goals.

To overcome this, we must first address what self-sabotage is. Then we need get to the roots of this self-sabotaging behavior so we can fix it and make our lives more successful. Self-sabotage is when we knowingly or unknowingly prevent ourselves from reaching our goals. Or we create conditions where it is impossible to follow through with our goals, so that failure is the only option. With these impossible expectations set we can feel justified if we quit or ‘fail’.

The root of self-sabotage is often shame and it’s commonly something we have picked up in childhood or earlier in life. We fear being successful, we lack self-worth or belief in ourselves, we fear failure, or we don’t feel like we are in control; all of this can make us feel shame. We may also tend to focus too much on the end goal and not those everyday actions that we do to make those goals happen. When your goal seems so far off or hard to accomplish it’s very easy to allow yourself to give up. Not every day is going to be easy or your best day with an awesome workout or great nutrition and that’s okay. Let’s take a look at two reasons we might self-sabotage and how we can try to overcome them. Sometimes our goals seem like they will take too long to achieve, or we set the bar with such unrealistic expectations that we just give up.

If you break long term goals down into multiple shorter-term goals you may find those changes become more attainable and you will be more successful. While we may not reach our goal right away, we still accomplish something good every time we decide to do a workout or cook a healthy meal or even take a few minutes to meditate and breathe. Keep track of those little ‘wins’, they are what lead to healthy sustainable changes in your life.

Understand that sustainable goals take time. Rome was not built in a day and you won’t make long term changes in one day either. Try not to stress reaching your end goal right now. “Well I can’t do it by that day so I may as well give up”. It is far more beneficial to focus on what can you do today. Understand that by making those good choices everyday it will eventually get you to your goal. Stressing yourself to reach that goal on a certain timeline is going to make it harder and you could find yourself failing.

Are your goals realistic? Sometimes it’s not so much how far off our goals are, it’s that we create unrealistic goals that are impossible to achieve. If we set the bar too high, we will have a hard time seeing our goals through to the end. Understand that not every diet or work out regimen is going to work out for you. For example, if you have bad knees and you start doing an exercise program with a lot of high impact exercises and deep squats you probably aren’t going to have a good time. You will start to feel pain in the joints and that pain can lead to you giving up. Adopt changes that are going to be realistic to you and your lifestyle. You’re probably not going to get out on a football field and play tackle, but you can start a strength training routine that accounts for any modifications you need.

When you actively take a step back and identify areas where you could be setting yourself up for failure, you will find it easier to make sustainable changes for a healthy life. If you need help getting yourself on the right track, a therapist, personal trainer or nutritionist can be a great place to start.