Done with Dieting Episode #4: Self-Sabotage

When we’ve decided that we want to become healthier & develop healthier habits, it’s easy to slip back in to old ones – ones that don’t necessarily serve our needs, and often are in direct conflict with what we truly want. 

Self Sabotage is common – when we do things like when we decide to bake an entire cake knowing that no one is around to eat it. Or not being realistic in our schedule enough to know that we need to buffer in more time so that our workout time doesn’t suffer.

Now – some of these things are just learning how to get good at this new behavior. But sometimes we know that we’ve totally sabotaged ourselves.

Why do we do that? And more importantly, how do we stop? 

What you’ll Learn from this Episode

  • Learn 2 tools that will make awareness of what we’re doing & why so that we can learn to avoid it.
  • Why it doesn’t matter how well we planned – if we think it’s going to be uncomfortable, we won’t do it.
  • How knowing what to do doesn’t matter at all when trying to change our behavior – and what DOES.

Listen to the Full Episode:


Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Done with Dieting Podcast, episode number Four.

Hi, I’m Elizabeth Sherman, former corporate high tech executive turned light and weight loss coach. But it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that I was searching for that perfect diet, you know, the one that would finally be the magic pill to lose the weight that I so desire.

Fast forward has tons of failed diets, endless hours of exercise and painful lessons learned. And although I still have not reached the state of Nirvana body love bliss that I truly desire, my relationship with food exercise and my body is infinitely better than it was not only when I started this journey, but even as recently as three years ago.

This journey has allowed me to ditch my scale, stop logging my food and exercise, eat food that wasn’t prepared by me, and I can easily maintain my weight, something that I never thought was possible. I created the Done with Dieting Podcast to give you simple, easy to do and sustainable strategies, and ideas to help you do the exact same thing without all of the drama that I went through.

If you’re a woman who’s looking to create a better relationship with food, exercise and her body, get off the diet, roller coaster, and free up all of that headspace spent on calories, how you look what you should eat, and beating yourself up for not doing what you think you should be doing. You are in the right place.

Let’s get started.

Hi there, welcome to the show. I have a really good one for you today.

Okay, so I have a couple different scenarios for you. Now, I want you to imagine that you’re starting a new plan and everything is going well. You tell yourself that you’re going to wake up early and go for a walk. But instead you sleep through the alarm.

Number two, you commit to eating healthy, but when it comes down to it making the choice, you’d rather eat the brownie over the broccoli.

And so you do you say that sleep is important. But then you press the play next button on Netflix, when you should really be pressing the off button.

What is happening? Why do we do this to ourselves?

Today, we’re going to talk about self sabotage, what it is why we do it, and then what to do instead.

And so I think that it’s always so confusing to us when we say that we want to do one thing. And then we do something that’s directly against what we say that we really want. We do something else.

And I think that it’s one of the biggest complaints that I get from folks that I talked to is the idea that we just aren’t disciplined that somehow that’s just a character trait of ours, that we don’t know why we just can’t get consistent, and that maybe we should give up on getting to our goal weight, because we just aren’t meant to get there. And that the one thing that we are consistent in is sabotaging ourselves.

And I want you to know that there is nothing that could be further from the truth. And when I explain to you what’s happening today, hopefully, you’ll be able to understand and correct the problem for yourself.

And so I’m going to introduce two different tools today, that are going to make a huge difference in how you think about failures, and your inability to keep a commitment to yourself going forward.

First of all, I want to explain that we have two different parts of our brain. And now stick with me, because I know that we’re talking about dieting here, but we need to talk about the brain.

So we have two different parts of our brain, we have one part of our brain, which we’re going to call the higher brain. And the higher brain is really good at making goals. And deciding what it is that we want to do. The higher brain decides that we want to lose weight. And how we’re going to lose weight is we’re going to start exercising three times a week, and we’re going to cut out all junk food. And we are going to start eating vegetables with every meal and we’re going to drink just a boatload of water. Okay. So that’s our higher brain, our higher brain goes out and it maps the plan. It has goals for next week, next month, next year and all the way on to infinity,

Then we have what’s called our lower brain. Now our lower brain doesn’t care about our goals. Our lower brain does not care about fitting into our jeans that we want to fit into. Our lower brain does not care about the event that we have to go to next week, where we’re barely able to fit into our dress, all the lower brain does is it lives in the moment.

And the lower brain actually functions on something that’s called the motivational triad. Now, the motivational triad is three different things.

It avoids pain, it seeks pleasure, and it wants to do it as efficiently as possible. So that’s the motivational triad. avoid pain, seek pleasure, do it as efficiently as possible.

Now let’s break this down a little bit

Avoiding pain.

Some examples of that are exercising, exercising is painful, of course, we don’t want to do it. So when my clients come to me and they say, Elizabeth, I don’t know what happened, I was just sitting there. And I just didn’t want to exercise. Well, of course, we don’t want to exercise none of us do. I don’t even want to exercise. And I’ve been exercising for years and years and years.

Something else that’s painful that we can avoid is negative emotion, or boredom, oftentimes, we will avoid the pain of being sad or being anxious or being bored. And so we look to doing something that’s more pleasurable. So that’s avoiding pain.

So seeking pleasure,

The second part of the motivational triad, when we decide that we want to get takeout, instead of eating the food that’s very healthy in our refrigerator. Of course, we want to do that because restaurant food is tasty. And if you’ve been eating out for any period of time, there’s something called palate adjustment, which is getting off of high fat, high salt, restaurant food, and eating your own food. So of course, restaurant food is pleasurable.

Eating our food isn’t necessarily painful. But restaurant food is definitely more pleasurable than eating the like a salad that we have in the refrigerator. So that’s one example. Another example of seeking pleasure is watching TV or scrolling through social media, those are both entertaining, and then doing it as efficiently as possible.

Clearly, sitting on the couch is easier than going for a walk, scrolling on social is easier than going for a walk, eating something that’s ready to eat is easier than preparing it, especially if it’s accessible, especially if it’s in your cupboard. Reaching in and grabbing cookies is easier than making something. So the motivational triad makes perfect sense.

Of course, we want to watch TV instead of go exercise. Of course, we want to eat restaurant food instead of eating our own food.

So now, the lower brain also offers us thoughts that we believe that’s why we do those things. So thoughts might be exercise is going to be hard, or it’s going to be cold outside, one piece won’t hurt, or I wonder what’s happening on social, it won’t take that long for me to do this one thing. And so when we think those thoughts, we believe them, first of all, but then second, they evoke feelings that then influence what we do.

So I want to introduce to you what’s called the think feel act cycle. And the think feel act cycle is really the piece that ties our past dieting attempts together. And it gives the understanding of why that hasn’t worked for us before.

The think feel act cycle is actually the solution to every problem that we have, and for sure is the culprit behind why we aren’t consistent. So the think feel act cycle has five different parts.

The first part is our circumstance, or the events that we have in our world, circumstances or events are really neutral. And when I say neutral, be careful about your interpretation of that word. So when I say that something is neutral, what I mean is that it can be argued in a court of law, and it doesn’t actually have any direct meaning. So some examples of circumstance are a dog that I see on the street, my current weight, or the fact that I ate ice cream last night. Those are all circumstances, they are neither good, nor are they bad

Thoughts which are the second piece to the think feel act cycle is where we create meaning about our circumstances. When I said that a dog was a circumstance and that it’s neutral. What I mean by that is that different people have different thoughts about dogs, right? So there are some people that love dogs, and there are other people who are afraid of dogs and there are other people who are like, yeah, dogs, whatever. I’m a cat person instead. Weight, our weight is also a neutral subject. Okay?

It’s not until we have a thought about our weight that we give our weight meaning so when we step on the scale Our brain automatically has thoughts of this is amazing. Or, oh my god, this sucks. I’ve been working so hard. And this is not what I expected, right? But the weight in and of itself is neither positive nor negative.

And this is actually a really good example for my clients who have lost a significant amount of weight. So let’s say that at your highest weight might have been 250 pounds, if at 250 pounds, you had stepped on the scale, and seen 175 that might evoke a positive feeling for you, because you were like, Oh my God, that’s amazing. But then, if you’ve ever gotten below 175, let’s say to 170, and then you stepped on the scale and you saw 175, you might have a different feeling about that same weight, it’s the same exact number on the scale. 175. Right. But depending on what our perspective is, on that weight, we have different feelings about it, or different thoughts.

Another example is the I ate ice cream last night, okay, it’s a fact. And so I can either think about that, that it was delicious. Or so often we have drama about it, that I’m a terrible person, because I ate ice cream last night, right? I can’t possibly be successful, I can’t stick to a diet, these are all thoughts that we have, when eating ice cream is neither positive nor negative. It’s just a fact.

Now, what’s really interesting here is that thoughts create feelings in our body. And so each of those thoughts as I was going through them, they may have created some feeling in you as I was talking about it. And so positive thoughts will create positive feelings, negative thoughts create negative feelings. And so when I think the thought that oh my god, I love dogs, that creates a very warm feeling inside of me. versus if I think that thought dogs are vicious, then I get a little scared.

When I think about my weight. And I think oh, my gosh, this is amazing. Then I have positive feelings. But when I step on the scale, and I think the thought, oh my god, this is hard, or this sucks, then it makes me feel bad, right. And when I think about ice cream, and I think that was delicious, then it makes me feel positively. But if I think I’m a terrible person for eating ice cream, then I feel a lot of shame.

Now, here’s the thing, how we feel will directly drive our actions. Okay, and now this is actually really super important. And if there’s nothing else that you get out of this podcast, this is actually the really important piece, that positive feelings will create positive actions, and that negative feelings create negative actions.

So for example, again, going back to the dog example, if I have a positive feeling about that dog, I’m going to run up to the dog and want to pet it and, you know, maybe give it some kisses. But if I feel negatively about it, I’m going to want to run away from the dog with our weight.

If we think that we’re being successful with our plan, we’re going to want to stay on the plan, we’re going to feel motivated, we’re going to do the things that make us successful. But if I feel demotivated, and I feel like this isn’t working, then I’m going to want to go off the plan.

With the ice cream. If I have the thought of it was delicious. And that’s it, then I’m going to move on and not give it a second thought. versus if I think about I’m a terrible person for eating ice cream, I’m going to want to ruminate on that. And it’s going to take up a lot of my brain space, our actions actually create our results.

So our results, which is the fifth piece, our results are a direct reflection of the actions that we take on a daily basis.

And I remember actually, in my journey, having the Epiphany and I think about it now. And it’s an epiphany, even though it seems so silly that I remember thinking, Oh, you mean in order for me to stay at this weight. I need to keep doing this diet. If I go off the diet and go back to my normal eating patterns, that I’m going to go back to my other weights. And it seems so silly, but that was the point that it all clicked.

And so our results are a product of our past actions. Our actions today are going to produce our future results.

And so I think that that’s actually the biggest reasons why diets don’t work is because diets prescribed from the action line, they tell us what to do. They tell us what to eat, when to eat it. And that’s actually very comforting, because so many of us want to know what we need to do. But the only reason that we do or don’t do anything has everything to do with how we feel, or how we think we’re going to feel after we do it.

And I know that I’m going to talk more about the think feel act cycle in future episodes, I want you to be aware that this is not just a think positive thoughts, and everything will be okay type of thing. It’s not a rainbows and butterflies tool. But it’s really important to understand that thoughts that we have in our brain, about our situations, and our circumstance, have a huge impact of how we experience the world.

So again, if we step on the scale, and we have the thought this is working, we’re gonna keep doing the things that we need to do in order to be adherent to our plan, right?

If we step on the scale, and think the thought, this isn’t working, I should just go eat ice cream instead, or eat cookies, then we’re going to go off of our plan. Of course, things aren’t going to work out now that you know what’s causing you to self sabotage, or go off plan.

What’s next? What do you want to do?

Instead, the biggest thing that I recommend for my clients to do is talk to yourself, instead of listening to yourself. Talk to yourself, instead of listening to yourself, what does that mean?

It means that when you hear those thoughts that your lower brain is offering you that it’s really important to understand that those thoughts can definitely be lies. The question is, are those thoughts serving you or not? If they’re not, then you get to decide what a better thought is.

So first, talk to yourself, instead of listening to yourself.

Number two, become aware of the thoughts that your lower brain is offering you. Okay, so just really get in touch with that.

And then number three, is intentionally change your results by practicing different thoughts. And I’m going to have another podcast coming up about this specific point. But one thing that’s really important is that we adopt thoughts that are believable.

So when you step on the scale, and you think this isn’t working, really being able to turn that around and think to yourself, no, this is just a plateau, or there’s a really good reason why I haven’t lost weight this week. And so I’m going to keep on staying on plan.

The next two podcast episodes, I’m gonna go into more depth with all of this. But for now, that’s all I have for you. Okay, I’ll see you all next week. Take care. Bye.

Hey, thanks for listening. If the show resonates with you and you have a friend, mother, sister or anyone else who you think would benefit I’d love for you to share the podcast with them. You can leave me a rating and review and Apple podcasts which helps me create an amazing experience for you. And it helps other women who are done with dieting and want to get off the diet roller coaster to find it as well.

See you next week.


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