The 3 Week Diet

How to Stop Sabotaging Diet and Weight Loss Efforts

If you have dieted for any length of time, you have likely had to face the challenge of overcoming sabotage, whether it’s self-sabotage, or internal sabotage, or it is external sabotage coming from the people in your life.

In the video above weight loss expert Craig Primack, M.D.  discusses the two forms of sabotage, both internal and external. We may undermine or own efforts, or we may be around someone else who undermines us for a variety of motives.

He notes conflicts may arise if you change your eating habits and your spouse and/or family members or friends do not. You may confront situations in which someone is bringing unhealthy foods into the house or when eating out, will consume large meals of foods restricted on your diet. If you had been taking part in social gatherings centered around food, you may be pressured to continue, or told that “just one time” won’t hurt.

Dr. Primack labels such people “food drivers” and alerts dieters to the underlying dynamics. When our eating habits change, our relationships may change as well. As family or friends see our success it may force them to confront their own weight issues, which they may have been reluctant to do.

We must look at the options; succumbing to the pressure and eating will lead to feelings of guilt and loss of control, perhaps also self-loathing. As hard as it may be, resisting the pressure is the option that will empower us.  After all, we would do nothing but commend a recovering alcoholic who said no to someone who insisted that “just one drink” wouldn’t hurt!

While it’s well established the tough journey an addict must make to get to recovery and sobriety, food issues, such as binge eating, emotional eating and food addiction are not seen in this light.  That said, it may even take extreme measures such as avoiding the toxic people in our lives, or at not socializing with them.

Instead surround yourself with people who encourage and uplift  — whether it’s an online or offline support group, a genuine and caring friend or, if needed a weight loss counselor or therapist, this can make a difference and mitigate against the negative influences which, perhaps we can’t completely avoid — if, for instance,  the food driver is our spouse,  our parents, our children or our boss.


Then there is self-sabotage which has its own challenges,  Dr. Primack points out. It is often driven by stress, leading us to emotional eating in hopes of soothing and comforting ourselves. He recommends journaling as a way to identify the times and situations that prompt this behavior.

He also notes that we may sabotage ourselves when we have unrealistic expectations. The loss of a pound or two a week when we may have perhaps a hundred or more pounds to lose can bring about feelings of impatience and even despair. Of course, we want the weight gone, and now!  It is important to look at the ongoing daily journey of weight loss and realize that as long as we are sticking with a diet and exercise plan that has worked in the past, persevering will lead to continued success and give us the tools to succeed in weight management.

I’m reminded of the inspiring story  of Shannon Davis of Colorado whose 300 pound weight loss in three years has made headlines, as she not only did it on her own, but while attending school and working full time and caring for her mother.  Reading such stories give encouragement and motivation to continue with our own efforts.

Organization and planning are crucial as well.  Taking that extra time to prepare meals — with the use of batch cooking — so that there’s something to grab quickly on the way out the door to go work or later in the day when we may arrive home and feel stressed and not inclined to cook. Instead of hitting the drive-in window at a fast food restaurant we can instead quickly heat a pre-prepared meal.

I think that the mindset is crucial. We must forgive ourselves of missteps and keep going. Binging one day does not mean complete failure.  Rather, we can resume again the next day knowing that over the course of time we will not only take the weight off, we will have developed the skills to keep it off forever.

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