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Conquer Your Weight

Episode #44: Are You Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Journey?

Show Notes

July 26, 2023

In this week's episode, we'll work to answer the question "Why am I sabotaging myself?" It's common that these types of thoughts come up, and working through them is going to be one of the most powerful tools to find long term weight loss success.

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Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: This is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh, and you are listening to the Conquer Your Weight Podcast, episode number 44. Announcer: Welcome to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, where you will learn to understand your mind and body so you can achieve long-term weight loss. Here's your host, obesity medicine physician and life coach, Dr. Sarah Stombaugh. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Hi everyone. Thanks for joining me today. Today we are going to talk about when you sabotage your weight loss journey. Before we do though, I want to take a minute and ask you for your help. If you have been enjoying my podcast, I would appreciate if you could take a few minutes and leave me a podcast rating, a podcast review. Leaving those ratings and reviews is one of the best things you can do to help get this podcast into the ears of more people who can benefit from applying these skills to their weight loss journey. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your support. Today, I wanna talk about a topic that comes up with my patients often partway through their weight loss journey, maybe they've had a bit of success and now they've plateaued. Maybe they're struggling to just get into a groove in the first place and for whatever reason, they are not hitting the weight loss goal they've set for themselves, and they ask, why am I sabotaging myself? And I wanna talk about that because maybe you've had this experience as well, you've made a plan, you've started to implement the plan, and then you slip up. Why are you sabotaging yourself? There can be so many reasons you're not sticking to the goals and the plans that you've made. And I'm not saying that every reason, you know, every time you plateau, every time that you are not losing weight at the goal that you'd like to. It doesn't mean that you're sabotaging yourself, that sometimes people really identify that they are. They have a plan that they really love. It's filled with foods that they enjoy, with exercises and movements that they love. They have a good sleep routine. They have all these things planned out. They're really excited about it and they're not sticking to it. When patients ask me this question, why am I sabotaging myself? I ask them to answer that question and we can learn to understand the deep beliefs about what you want and why you want it or maybe why you don't want it. In episode number four, we talk about your big why. Why do you want to lose weight? If you haven't gotten a chance to listen to that episode, go back and take a listen because it can help you to get really clear on what your reasons are for wanting to lose weight. So when a patient asks me why am I sabotaging myself, I often ask them to review that. Why do you want to lose weight? We revisit all of those reasons that they want to lose weight. And then we play around with that list a bit, writing down all the reasons, maybe adding more, taking some away that they realize weren't so important. And if you haven't taken the time to ask yourself that question before, it might even be worth pausing the podcast right now and thinking that through, or taking a moment to write it down. What are all the reasons that you want to lose weight? If you have taken the time to revisit your list, make sure that you're revisiting it often to remind yourself. So those things can be varied. It's going to be independent for each person. It is often things like, though I'll have better health, my blood pressure will be lower, my diabetes would go away. I can decrease my risk of cancer recurrence. My joints won't hurt so bad, I want to live longer for my children or maybe my grandchildren. There's often a lot of different variations of this. Like I want to walk my daughter down the aisle when she gets married. I wanna see my grandchildren be born. I want to be able to feel good and enjoy my retirement. I don't want to die early like my father, my mother, my sibling, my grandparent. I'm sick of living in a body this size. I just wanna shop at a regular clothing store and fit into traditional clothing sizes. Sometimes people also say things like, I'll be able to find a romantic relationship, or I'll feel better about myself. For the purpose of the podcast today, I don't wanna talk about those too much, but I will note that there are certain things that are likely to be true. If you lose weight, your blood pressure is likely to improve. I see it literally every day. If you lose weight, you will reduce your risk of cancer, reduce your risk of heart disease, and you are more likely to live longer. Of course, it's not a guarantee, but there's certainly a correlation when people say things like, I'll be able to find a romantic relationship, or I'll feel better about myself. I do help them to reevaluate that and to question if those things are actually true, because it's possible you could find a romantic relationship at your current size or you could feel good about yourself at your current size. And like I said, I don't wanna get into those too much, but those correlations don't necessarily require weight loss. So look back at this list. What is the reason? What are all of the reasons that you want to lose weight? And then I want you to think about the opposite, and I'll ask this question, what do you like about being your current weight? The answer initially is nothing. I wanna lose weight. Why would you even ask me that? And when people have that type of response, no big deal. I reframe the question and sometimes, honestly a few times over, is there anything better about being your current weight than if you were at a lower weight? Is there anything bad about being at a lower weight? What scares you about losing weight? When we think about these questions in different ways, reframe it. We can get often a lot of different answers. And the answers to these questions are pure gold because it's often shocking to hear what comes up. And if you wanna take a minute and even ask yourself those questions right now. Go ahead. What do you like about being your current weight? Let me give you some of the examples of responses that I have heard over the years. I've always been overweight. My childhood nickname even reflects my lifelong weight issues. People love hugging me because I'm like hugging a teddy bear. I'm soft and cuddly with, they even want to hug me. If I had rock hard abs, I'm afraid my spouse won't understand. My spouse also struggles with their weight, and I'm worried that losing weight would drive a wedge in our relationship. I don't want my daughter to develop a complex about her weight while she could an eating disorder. If I am constantly thinking and talking about my weight, all of my friends are overweight and I feel like I fit in right now. I can eat whatever I want whenever I want. I'm afraid I'll miss all of my favorite foods. I know I won't be able to eat the donuts in the break room every day. Buying all new clothes would be a huge hassle. Other people will think I'm full of myself. I don't want people to think I'm judging them when they're overweight and I've lost weight. I don't want my family to think that I think that I'm better than them. I don't want to turn down food when someone has made it, especially for me. I, I hate going to the gym right now. I look like the average American and I don't stand out. I like that. What if I go through all of that work just to regain all of the weight again? Is it even going to be worth it? Will I be starving and miserable all the time? Do any of these answers sound familiar? Whether you were able to brainstorm your own list first or not, I want you to reflect on some of these answers that I've shared with you from other people. It's really interesting to hear all of these reasons that come up. Maybe it's not that extensive of a list, but certainly there's usually many, usually at least five or 10 that are coming up for people. Why would you want to lose weight if it meant were going to drive a wedge in your relationship with your wife or that you'd give your daughter an eating disorder or that you wouldn't fit in with your friends anymore or that no one would want to hug you? All of that sounds really sad. If you're imagining a future like that, why would you want to lose weight? Of course you don't wanna lose weight. And if you look at your two lists side by side, it's really interesting to compare them. What are all the reasons you want to lose weight and what are all of the reasons you like being your current size? When you look at them side by side, it ends up looking a bit like a pro con list. Pro I could get off my blood pressure medication con, I don't have any friends pro, I might cure my diabetes con, I can never eat any of the foods I enjoy ever again. Pro I reduce my risk of cancer con I get divorced because my relationship with my spouse isn't ever the same. Sure you've gotten off your blood pressure medication, but you don't have friends, to be honest, you would probably rather just take a blood pressure pill for the rest of your life when you're listing these two things next to each other as if the pros and the cons and it becomes really clear why you're sabotaging yourself. I believe that there's a part of you, even a big part of you that wants to lose weight. And there's also a big part of you that doesn't want to lose weight. And so you're fighting against yourself and moving forward in your weight loss journey is going to require addressing each of those things on that cons list. Addressing each of those things. When you think, what do I like about being my current size are the reasons I don't wanna lose weight. We need to address those, and that is the only thing that's going to allow you to move through. So start by asking yourself, is this really true? Is it possible that it could be different? So let's go through a few examples where we start to question those things. So for example, if someone says to me, I don't want my daughter to have a complex about her weight, will she get an eating disorder? If I am constantly thinking about my weight, first of all, I wanna say it is likely completely out of your control whether or not your daughter develops an eating disorder. That being said, this is often really catastrophizing the situation and even the more mild version of it doesn't sound good as well. You don't want your daughter to have an unhealthy relationship with food. The interesting thing though is that often you already do have an unhealthy relationship with food. Maybe you are modeling behaviors of eating when you're stressed, overeating. Maybe you saw a unhealthy relationship with food modeled to you when you a child. Wouldn't it be amazing if you could model a healthy relationship with food? What if you could teach your daughter to eat when she's hungry, to stop when she's full, to not turn to food when she's feeling stressed or when she's feeling upset, to teach her how to cook and make healthy food choices so that she learns to, to go shopping and buy clothes that fit her body and clothes that flatter her body. What if embarking on this journey could be the way in which you are actually the most excellent example of how to treat your body when you are afraid of modeling these poor behaviors? You're probably thinking about diets that you've tried in the past. Bland meal replacements, really restrictive diets, thinking about older women in your own life, how they talked about themselves, treated their bodies. That doesn't have to be the case. Is it possible that this could be different and you could be an excellent example for your daughter? Or let's question this one. I know I won't be able to eat donuts in the break room every day. Okay, so what the reason that makes you sad is because right now that's a really big part of your life. Maybe that's your stress relief. Maybe that's your treat at the end of the day. That is providing something for you that is really important. And so you're imagining that not eating donuts that might feel like torture that all day long, you'll be thinking about donuts, depriving yourself of donuts. And so start to ask yourself, Hmm, is it possible that there's a future where I actually don't even want donuts, a future where they're not calling my name from the break room? You don't even have to believe that those things are true, but just start to consider like, Hmm, is this even a possibility? Is it possible that it wouldn't actually be so bad? Maybe it could actually be amazing that I could find that level of freedom around food. Spend some time and allow yourself to dream because wow, wouldn't it actually be amazing if you didn't even want to eat the donuts in the break room every day? Or let's think about this one. I hate going to the gym. Okay, so what? Don't go to the gym. What if you could lose weight without ever visiting the gym? What if you could learn how to do exercises at home? What if you did go to the gym? What if you found a gym surrounded by people who were like-minded with people who were loving and supportive? If there were exercises that you loved, maybe you could go to the gym and you could really love it. There's a lot of different possibilities that we can play around with here. And so look back at your own list. What do you like about being your current size and what makes you of losing weight or being a smaller size? Look at each of these things that comes up and get to work. Tackling each of those concerns, just start to question, is this true? What if? What if it didn't have to be pull? True? What if I could change my life? What if I wasn't craving those foods? What if I could be a good example? Is it possible this type of work is best done with the support of another person? Whether that is a psychologist, a coach, an obesity medicine physician, having the support of someone else to just reflect your own mind back to you can be really powerful if you live in Illinois or Virginia where I am licensed to practice medicine. I would love to see you as a patient in my telemedicine based weight loss practice. Please visit my website at That's S-A-R-A-H-S-T-O-M-B-A-U-G-H-M-D dot com. Fill out the form on the individual visits page to get in touch with me. I would love to have a visit with you. Learn if I'm a good fit for you, if you're a good fit for my practice. Thank you so much for joining me today. I'll see you all soon. Bye-bye.
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