That adrenaline fuelled start, followed by the dip and then the inevitable crash and burn.
Whether it’s been trashing your diet after weeks of staying the course, scuppering your chances of a successful relationship after months of smooth sailing or destroying a stint of sobriety because of the urge to have a spontaneous, hedonistic weekend couldn’t be tamed.
We’ve all been there.
In today’s article, I’m going to share with you some practical ways you can prevent yourself from self-sabotage that are realistic to adopt when it comes to your fitness.
This isn’t going to be a ‘don’t go out’, ‘cut out all food groups’, ‘refrain from anything fun’ type of lecture.
You know that’s not my bag.
But more so, some tangible ways you can prevent yourself from sabotaging yourself whilst still enjoying social events and managing busy work periods and unplanned events.
At the beginning, the adrenaline will get you through but this slowly drops off. This happens in everything we do and we can’t be motivated 100% of the time.
Indicators that our motivation is starting to drop is that we start to not ‘feel’ like doing what we need to be doing. The tasks that we viewed in a positive light, now seem to be a chore.
Take meal prep for example, you can tell your motivation starts to drop when Sunday night rolls around and you really can’t be asked to take the chicken out of the fridge, chop it up, cook it and put it into 5 boxes.
This is a normal emotion to feel and the first step is to recognise when the triggers occur.
Make a note of when you start to feel this happen.
Then move onto step 2.
I always compare your why to your anchor. It’s the thing that keeps you locked at the harbour when the wild weather wants to take you off course and out to see.
Your why, and your anchor, should be very personal to you.
For some people, the reason for getting in shape is so they can stay healthy for their kids.
For many, it’s to have six-pack abs at the beach and get more matches on Tinder.
For others, it’s to remove the guilt of getting undressed in front of their partner or cope with the fact that they get cheated on by their ex-wife.
Yes, these can be very, very personal and emotional reasons. The more emotional the better actually because this is going to give you some attachment to wanting to get fit.
Being attached to your why and reminding yourself of it constantly, will help get you through the times where your motivation starts to dip.
Last year, I read a great book by James Clear called Atomic Habits and its revolutionised the way I operate.
Essentially, the habits are our roadmap to our destination, which is our goal. When we don’t have the right roadmap, it’s very easy to get lost and move further away from our goal.
This is why it’s important to always focus on habits, not just goals.
Once we build the healthy habit of getting enough sleep, refraining from high alcohol consumption and staying fully hydrated, we move much closer to our goals.
This doesn’t mean we can’t have the odd drink, or have a military style sleep routine.
It just means that 80% of the time we are doing the right thing, so 20% of the time we can be off plan.
This makes things less out of reach and this will prevent you from wanting to sabotage yourself.
As busy people, we only have a certain amount of will-power during the day and want to ensure we use most of that for our big complex decisions at work and life.
Food and exercise should not fit under that category. We should be making simple, infrequent decisions when it comes to these factors.
That’s why building a system such as outsourcing your diet to a coach or hiring a personal trainer can be vital.
Not only do they do most of the work for you, they give you that golden nugget for success that everybody needs: accountability.
When you have to be accountable to someone and check-in with them on Sunday, the constant Friday night kebab episodes are less likely to occur.
You’re more likely to enjoy your night out with friends, moderate yourself and feel less worse for wear on Saturday morning.
This is the number one factor to help prevent self-sabotage.
Now, I’m not saying you have to turn down every night out, office doughnut or meal out with friends. I actually advocate that you say ‘yes’ to these things sometimes because it’s good for your mental health and remind yourself that you’re a human being.
That being said, it’s also important to know when to draw the line.
As people, we don’t want to upset those around us and sometimes feel like saying ‘no’ will make people feel offended or reflect badly on ourselves.
The opposite is actually the case.
When you learn to say ‘no’, people actually respect you more for it. They see you as somebody who can make their own decisions and isn’t always swayed by the herd.
This makes you unique, principled and interesting and this can only add to your character.
Saying ‘no’, also means you actually look forward to nights out in the future because you know you’re not going out at every beck and call.
The novelty of spending every weekend at a nightclub wears off very quickly.
The most important thing to remember with self-sabotage is that you’re not going to get it right 100% of the time. We all have to fail to learn and get better.
However, as you repeat steps 1-5, you’ll find that this starts to happen a lot less often and you’ll begin to make more progression.
It’s about being consistent and persistent with yourself, not impeccable.
This will always trump trying to be perfect.