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Do you feel like your weight plateau might be caused by self-sabotage? Self-sabotage is common on a weight loss journey. When you want something so badly – in this case, weight loss – it seems absolutely crazy that you would stop yourself from getting it. Yet self-sabotage can stop you in your tracks, so it’s important to recognize what is going on when this happens.
Is Your Weight Plateau Due to Self-Sabotage?
Self-sabotage, sometimes called fear of success, is totally real. Self-sabotage happened to me.
I learned to overcome it during my weight loss journey and you can, too. I started therapy for compulsive overeating and binge eating in the Fall of 2004. When I first started therapy, I did no diet or exercise of any type. I wasn’t ready for it. I just focused on getting myself to therapy and surviving the sessions.
But after awhile, I knew I needed some type of food accountability system.
In the Spring of 2005, I made the decision to start the Weight Watchers Online program. I had done the Weight Watchers program with meetings before, but at that time the online program was relatively new. The idea of being able to use the program in the privacy of my own home appealed to me.
At this point in my therapy journey process, I had not yet attempted any type of weight loss.
This began a whole new step in my food addiction recovery, one that would encompass the next two years of my life. In retrospect, I see this as my time of learning to embrace two incredibly important concepts that have completely changed my life: Fear and Success.
Overcoming Weight Loss Plateau
I began to experience success. I started to lose weight. It didn’t seem real to me at first because I was still eating a relatively large amount of food, but because it was less than I had been eating, it worked.
Weight Watchers does work well for many individuals. I have even shared tips from Weight Watchers members before that have been a part of their success.
Each weigh-in on my home scale, I thought surely my weight would stay the same or I would even gain weight, but each week the scale would show a weight loss. It usually wasn’t huge — one or two pounds, but it was steady.
Throughout this whole process, I was still binge eating. I’m not proud of that fact, but it is the truth and is part of my story.
I faithfully followed the Weight Watchers program, recording what I was eating and calculating my points. Except when I wasn’t.
Typically I would track and record my points for the whole week extremely faithfully — obsessively — and veer off course for 1-2 days or partial days per week. My pattern would often be to weigh in on Tuesday mornings, have great weekdays, then get off track and binge over the weekend, only to start fresh on Monday morning. Then the cycle would repeat.
Still, even with the binge eating I was eating fewer calories and experiencing weight loss.
How I Managed Fear in my Weight Loss Journey
This success stirred up fears within me. Internal voices of self-doubt, denial, and skepticism began to whisper criticisms.
The voices inside my head said things like:
- Sure, I had lost weight before, but I always gained it back.
- Why would this time be any different?
- Look at the binge eating I was still doing — was I making true changes?
- People don’t really change, anyway, do they?
I was desperately afraid of failure. Unlike people I see today who share all over Instagram and Facebook, I told no one I was doing Weight Watchers. I didn’t want anyone to judge me if I messed up and gained the weight back. I was afraid to eat in front of people for fear of what they would think of my food choices.
After I had lost 50 pounds, it became obvious I was losing weight and people started to compliment me. I craved their compliments, yet I was terrified of the attention. In essence, I wasn’t handling my fear at all. I was letting it handle me.
What is Self-Sabotage?
Self-sabotage comes in many forms, but in my case, it was overeating because I was afraid of failure. It’s not conscious but it’s those behaviors that keep you stuck. Thankfully, these are patterns that can be fixed.
Fear of success is in some ways fear of failure in a prettier package. It’s the fear of falling from the top. What if I achieve this level of success (in my case, weight loss), only to come crashing down in front of my whole world watching?
Fear of success is the expectations we place upon ourselves for when we have ARRIVED.
Through therapy, I learned I pictured myself at my goal weight as being a thin, smiling, always-on-the-go, well-dressed, snazzy Sara who had her life together. Who wants to live up to that totally unrealistic standard? I don’t think I would even want to be friends with someone like her, let alone be her. No thanks, I’ll just stay here being (miserably, but at least comfortably) heavy.
So I would self-sabotage and overeat in order to stay here.
I spent so many years idolizing what life would be like when I finally got to my goal weight that I needed to go through the mental work of painstakingly deconstructing this myth. Once I realized I could still be my regular messed up, normal self — a thinner, happier, but still normal version — those fears began to fade and I stopped sabotaging my progress.
Hopefully, your weight plateau is not because of self-sabotage. If it is, however, maybe my journey to overcome will shed some light on this and help you through the tough days.
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