How To Stop Sabotaging Your Weight Loss


Nagina Abdullah


May 10, 2022

how to stop sobotaging your weight loss

When it comes to weight loss, even those with the best intentions can engage in self-sabotage.

Years ago, after two babies and a stressful managerial job, I found myself smack in the middle of my thirties and weighing more than I ever had before – desperate to drop the extra pounds I’d accumulated over the years so that I had the energy to keep up with two busy toddlers plus a full-time job.

I spent years trying every diet on the market but nothing worked to help me lose weight and actually keep it off. What I didn’t realize at the time was that by severely restricting everything I was eating, I was actually sabotaging my long-term weight loss success.

Do any of these statements sound like something you’ve thought about yourself?

I’ve tried to lose weight in the past and just can’t keep it off – maybe this is the way my body is meant to be

I just need to try harder to eat healthy and exercise – I must not want it enough

I like eating – I don’t want to restrict my diet to foods I don’t enjoy for the rest of my life

I have so far to go, I don’t even know where to start

Thankfully, after a lot of research and experimentation, I found the perfect combination of weight-loss friendly foods and a system that helped me keep my weight off for good. Now, as a professional weight loss coach, I help women overcome the same self-sabotaging behaviors I struggled with for years.

Self-sabotage creates perpetual feelings of failure and frustration that can impact your self-esteem, your professional work, and your family life. If you’re tired of waking up every day feeling negative about yourself, read these 5 ways you might be sabotaging your success plus strategies on how to stop self-sabotaging your weight loss.

1. You’re letting your past failures stop you before you even start

Chances are you’ve tried to lose weight in the past, and while you may have been successful in the short term, the pounds you worked so hard to shed eventually returned. Years of fluctuating weight gains and losses have made you believe you’re just not one of those people who can lose weight and keep it off.

You’re not alone in your feelings of defeat. According to a Gallup poll, six in ten Americans have made at least one attempt to lose weight, with women reporting an average of 10 attempts throughout their lives.

Why aren’t most people able to sustain their weight loss? Because the way we have been taught to lose weight – dieting – isn’t sustainable for most people. Dieting is often centered around restriction, creating a temporary mirage of health that eventually vanishes when you stop restricting.

If your fear of past failure is preventing you from taking the first step, know this: you were always bound to fail because you weren’t given the correct information. Plus, it’s okay to accept failure as a normal part of any process. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity basketball team, yet he didn’t label himself as “one of those people who can’t play ball”.

You could be frolicking on the beach in that bikini right now, but you have to let go of your (understandable) fear of failure and realize – that you are one of those people who can lose weight and keep it off.

Have you ever heard the old adage “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results“? The same is true for dieting and losing weight. If you want a fitter and healthier body, you have to do something different to get it. Check out my 8-week slimdown plan to see how losing weight without diet and exercise actually works.

2. You haven’t given yourself permission to lose weight

Have you ever heard messaging like this from your partner or someone else?

“Losing weight is simple, all you have to do is eat three meals a day, have a healthy snack, and work out. You just have to try harder.”

As a professional weight loss coach, let me fact check that for you: you don’t need to try harder, you need to give yourself permission.

Simply put, giving yourself permission to lose weight means giving yourself the resources and tools that you personally need to reach your goal.

When you’re having trouble losing weight, you’re sabotaging your weight loss by thinking that you need to try harder. What you actually need to do is think differently. That means identifying the barriers to your success and addressing them.

For example, consistency is a common barrier to weight loss that many of the women I work with report. One way to address problems with consistency is by adding accountability into the equation. The Harvard Business Review found that when you have someone to check in with regularly, the probability of your success “skyrockets to 95%”.

One of the reasons why the women in my weight loss groups are so successful is because they’ve invested in accountability for themselves, both emotionally and financially, even if they’ve struggled with the feeling that they should be able to figure it out on their own.

My client Carmen, a working mom with ten kids, always ate healthily but wasn’t really getting the results she wanted. She decided to join my program and halfway through, she had already lost 18 pounds and her energy levels were through the roof!

Carmen credits the accountability coaching she receives in my program as a crucial component of her transformation – the specific support and advice she needed were missing from her prior lifestyle. 

When you truly give yourself permission to use whatever it takes to get your dream body, you can tap into expertise you wouldn’t otherwise have access to – like my tested and perfected Fat Burning Framework, which teaches you which foods are fat burning and how to put them together in a way that’s easy, delicious, and melts away pounds.

3. You’re restricting yourself from your favorite foods

Do you love food? Are you afraid that if you commit to losing weight you won’t be allowed to eat the foods you love anymore? And if you aren’t allowed to enjoy eating the foods you love once you lose weight, is having the body of your dreams even worth it? Does the thought of never having a slice of pizza or your favorite cake again stop you from committing to a healthier lifestyle – one where you can go for that 10-mile hike and still have energy and wear any dress you want right off the rack?

Good news for you – restricting yourself from your favorite foods actually sabotages your weight loss, so you can throw that strategy right out the window. Having a list of “forbidden foods” will only make you want them more.

You may have heard of the #1 National Bestselling book French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure. The bottom line is that these women are still eating the food they love – just in smaller amounts.

My advice to my weight loss clients is the same – you should love what you are eating every day. But how is that possible on a diet, you might ask? Well, we’ve already discussed that diets don’t work, so what I’m suggesting is a mindset change.

The Masala Body 8 Week Slimdown Jumpstart program teaches you to love eating healthy food and also allows you to eat the foods you love. With time, you’ll start to crave healthy foods while still indulging in cookies, brownies, or other foods you just can’t give up – nor do you need to.

My client, Kelly, had been on self-sabotaging, restrictive diets in the past. While they did help her lose a few pounds, just like me, she always gained it back. After Kelly joined my program she lost 17 pounds by learning to cook foods that are just as delicious and filling as anything she craved in the past. Because her new recipes are so satisfying, she no longer has the desire to snack on junk food that leaves her feeling tired and sluggish. 

4. You’re overwhelmed by your goal

When you imagine yourself in that little black dress hanging in your closet, how many pounds will you need to lose to get there? 20, 30, 40 pounds or more?

Start small. Breaking down a goal into manageable segments can help reduce pressure and increase your chances of success.

“If we set lofty weight loss goals, like 10, 20 or 30-plus pounds, and we don’t make progress quickly enough, it’s too easy to get distracted and have our emotions convince us that the goal is not achievable,” says the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Lauren Whitt, Ph.D.

All or nothing thinking can prevent you from sticking to your goals in general, but if you are able to successfully reach small goals, the sense of accomplishment you feel will help continue to motivate you to achieve your next goal.

So focus on the first five pounds, celebrate every pound you’re losing along the way, then tackle the next five.

5. You think trying to lose weight means you can’t have fun

Here’s what I hear all the time from my clients:

I feel guilty for making healthy choices in social settings when my friends are eating whatever they want

I don’t want to be picky or put anyone out

I don’t want to stand out at my business dinner

I don’t want anyone to know I’m trying to lose weight

I want to be able to enjoy myself when I go out to eat

I don’t want to be known as the healthy person that doesn’t have fun

These are all valid and normal concerns, but here’s the honest truth: you can enjoy yourself and still live in the body of your dreams

Most of these concerns involve the way other people may or may not think about you, but when you love what you’re eating and have the confidence in that, you’ll be making choices for yourself instead of focusing on what other people think. And in fact, other people will start following your lead when they see how amazing you look and feel and how much you love what you’re eating.

Parties and other social events can be huge triggers because so much of our culture revolves around food, but many people don’t know that there are “hacks” that can keep them feeling in control when they decide to let loose.

If you struggle with social situations, here are two strategies I teach my clients to help keep them on track:

Eat before you go. Have a protein packed snack or mini meal before you go to an event. That way, you’re able to make intentional choices when you’re not ravenous. Many of my clients travel so before they join their colleagues for a business dinner they have the quick and healthy meal that we’ve already talked about or a protein shake before they even step out the door.

Try the appetizer hack. If you’re craving comfort food, order an unhealthy appetizer and a healthy meal. The smaller appetizer portion will allow you to satisfy your craving and indulge in your pleasure food, but the healthy meal will allow you to walk out of the restaurant feeling happy about your mindset and your body.

The number one thing that self-sabotaging keeps us from is living the life of our dreams. Whether you want to have the stamina to bike with your children or grandchildren, have the energy to wake up on Saturday and go for a hike in gorgeous weather, or be able to wear a closet filled with sexy clothes that make you feel confident, you have to get out of your own way.

If you are interested in losing weight permanently with MasalaBody’s online weight loss programs, check out my 8-Week Slim Down Jumpstart Personal Weight Loss Coaching or book a call!

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Nagina Sethi Abdullah, BA, MBA

Nagina Abdullah is a health coach for middle-aged women and professionals. She coaches women to boost their metabolism naturally, shed pounds and keep them off. Her work with weight loss clients led to the creation of Masala Body, an online weight loss platform that provides an easy and accessible system that helps women sustainably lose weight. She has helped over 1200 women successfully lose from 10-80 lbs and create a sustainable lifestyle change. Nagina earned her degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley.

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