weight loss self sabotage

3 Ways Your Thoughts Sabotage You When You’re Trying to Lose Weight

If you’ve made a commitment to lose weight—for real, finally this time!—you may be surprised to learn that there is SO much more to losing weight beyond just the food you put in your mouth.


In fact, one area that is not often discussed, but that can make a HUGE, life-changing impact to how successful you are in losing your desired weight, is your mindset.

Your thoughts are an incredibly powerful tool that can either help you lose the weight OR keep it on due to fear, stress and other negative emotions.

In my holistic nutrition practice, many women come to me feeling defeated and frustrated, often with a lifetime of weight loss attempts (and failures) under their belts. Believe me, they are not beginners when it comes to trying to lose their excess weight.

They often feel like they’ve tried everything under the sun.

  • Nothing works.
  • I don’t have any self-control.
  • I can’t do it.

Every minute of every day, they’re spending all their time thinking about food and feeling weak, hopeless and out of control.

Sound familiar?

The problem is that when you’re in that state, and you’re only focused on the challenges and negative parts associated with your goal, it becomes impossible to lose a pound, or more.

So, why is that?

The Way our Brains Are Wired

Well, we are wired to focus on the negative! That’s for sure. Our brains are wired to keep us out of harm’s way. Since the dawn of human history, our very survival depended on our ability to avoid danger. Biologically, our brains are built to notice danger and then respond accordingly to it.

This may have been needed when humans were largely hunter-gatherers, but today, we don’t have to face most of the true survival dangers that we once had to. Unfortunately, our brains haven’t evolved or adapted as fast as the pace of modern life has and we are still hardwired to respond to stress in a negative and often overreactive way. We head down the well-worn path of least resistance, which, for most of us, is a negative one.

When you are consistently “stressing” about, and focusing on your weight loss failures, how will you ever succeed at your goal?

And did you know that it is super common for women to subconsciously sabotage their weight loss efforts the closer they get to reaching their goals? For many women, it’s because we’ve never actually pictured ourselves without the extra weight.

We can’t identify with ourselves as people without our struggle of trying to lose the weight. We can’t identify with the woman who loves her body, and who feels confident, gorgeous and yes, even sexy! We can’t identify with the woman who has boundless energy and who doesn’t have anything holding her back anymore. Our brains perceive this stress as a threat and we then often subconsciously sabotage our own efforts in order to stay comfortable and SAFE.

The first step to overcoming this is to picture yourself after having achieved your goal.

1. Let Your Imagination Work Wonders

So, first: imagine every aspect of what it feels like to be at your goal weight.

  • What are you wearing?
  • How do you feel? Do you feel more confident, more balanced or more in control?
  • What are your relationships with your kids and husband like?
  • How do you feel when you go shopping for a bathing suit?
  • What is your life like overall?

Write the answers to these questions down as if you are already living this life. Feel the results deep down inside. And yes, you better get excited about them!

Throughout your weight loss journey, write about these future results, and as often as possible. Whenever you feel down or experience a setback (and you almost certainly will), read over what you wrote and remind yourself exactly why you are doing what you are doing.

2. Address Your Fears & Limiting Beliefs About Weight Loss

Second, recognize the fears and limiting beliefs you have around weight loss.

A few examples of limiting beliefs might be:

  • “I have to watch every single thing I eat, or count every calorie, or I’ll never lose weight.”
  • “I have to work out A LOT to lose any weight.”
  • “My whole family is, and has always been, overweight so it’s in my genes.”
  • “I can never eat that food. It’s way too fattening.”

Write ALL these thoughts down. Then for each one, ask yourself… is this really true?

For example, if you find yourself constantly saying “It’s too hard to lose weight”, ask yourself, honestly: Is this true? You’ll probably realize that it’s not, because many people, everywhere and anywhere, do it all the time!

Get on the web and search for something like “weight loss transformations”. Then look at all the people who did it! There are people out there who have successfully lost 400-500 pounds and kept it off! The truth is, limiting beliefs and fears only keep you from making better choices, finding the resources or help you need to achieve your goal, or muster up last bit of courage to finally succeed.

So, write them all down and then find the evidence to prove yourself wrong.

3. Focus on the Positive!

Finally, focus on the positive.

Know that our brains can be rewired.

Even though some of us are prone to making negative comments and assumptions, it is entirely possible to develop the habit of being, and staying, positive. The vibrational energy that you are putting out to the universe will help you with your weight loss efforts.

A great example of this is when you started changing your eating habits and incorporating healthier foods. Many people will focus on all of the stuff they can’t eat and go into a state of suffering and/or starvation. Unfortunately, this forces them to rely on willpower alone, which always runs out (eventually!), and which will always lead them back to their old, unsupportive habits.

Instead, try a new approach by focusing on all of the positive aspects of the food. Say to yourself, “Look at all of these new foods and flavours I get to experiment with!”

You can also focus on how good it feels when you are eating well. Are your clothes fitting better? Are you sleeping better? Do you have more energy? Is your sex drive ramping up?

Take Action

Your task this week?

Choose one of these simple exercises and include it in your daily routine. You’ll be amazed at the results and how these can have a cascading effect on your weight, your work and your home life—really, your whole life!

Try it and please feel free to share your discoveries with me in the comments below. Until next time!

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Article Author

Karen Martel

Karen Martel

Karen Martel, Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach and weight loss expert. After a lifetime of struggling with her own health issues Karen is determined to bring her knowledge to other women. She has a bold new approach to women’s health and weight management. Karen's passion lies in helping women find their weight loss code through food, correcting digestive issues, optimizing hormones, uncovering emotional blocks and managing chronic stress. She is the founder of the On Track meal planning and group coaching program and host of the On Track video cast on YouTube. She is a health leader and researcher determined to revolutionize nutrition for modern women.
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